In her blog, “What is the Circular Economy?”, BLUEPRINT Project Coordinator, Maria, highlighted the importance of designing out waste from the very beginning of the product lifecycle in order to reduce the waste we send to landfill. This means that in the near future, the products we see on our high street shelves should ideally contain as much recovered, reused or recycled material as possible.
Recycling is the process of collecting, sorting and treating waste materials so they can be used again for the same or alternative use. Whether we know a lot or very little about it, recycling is a part of many of our daily habits. Whilst it is not the silver bullet for the circular economy, it is one of the easiest ways to contribute to a circular system and reduce the waste we send to landfill.
And it has some powerful benefits.
Firstly, recycling not only helps to conserve our planet’s limited resources – saving energy, and reducing landfill at the same time – but a recent report also suggests that the introduction of more local recycling services and facilities in the UK could create over 60,000 new jobs (3).
Secondly, recycling can help to create new and innovative materials and products. If you were to take a Network Rail train from Salisbury to Warminster, you’d now be travelling over old plastic bottles and food packaging. This is because Network Rail have recently introduced new railway sleepers made from locally sourced plastic waste; the recycling processes of which produce around 40% less greenhouse gas emissions than the production of their hardwood equivalents (4).
And if you were to need a pair of sunglasses on your travels, look no further than the Cornish company, Waterhaul, who recycle some of the 640,000 tonnes of discarded fishing nets found in the ocean every year into sunglasses (5).
These are just two examples of recycling innovations that have helped to divert tonnes of waste away from landfill and oceans – and there are many more examples that the BLUEPRINT to the Circular Economy project is currently collating.
Visit www.projectblueprint.eu/ to find out more.
Ultimately, what these benefits tell us is that as individuals we can support the circular economy by ensuring we properly recycle more of our household waste and support businesses who make use of recycled materials (explore the BLUEPRINT Circular Economy directory for your next purchases).
Let’s admit, it feels good to know we’ve made a positive impact by simply placing our plastic bottles in the right bin – and with the proposed Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), recycling might just get easier.
Look out for the next BLUEPRINT blog to learn more about the DPS and EPR, and if you’re still unconvinced by recycling processes in Peterborough and want to find out more from the council themselves, be sure to stay in the loop by signing up for the BLUEPRINT Ambassadors scheme here.