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Celebrating Excellence: UK’s Remarkable Recycling and Resource Management Sector

25th August 2023

In the wake of the recent new Presidential inauguration, a new digital report titled ‘Celebrating Excellence: Showcasing UK’s Recycling and Resource Recovery Pioneers’ has been unveiled. This report highlights the outstanding achievements of the UK’s recycling and resource recovery sector, underlining its substantial contribution to the nation’s economy.

The waste and resources sector plays an indispensable role, employing over 100,000 individuals and serving households and businesses across the nation. Collaborating with governmental and local authority partners, the industry continues to elevate recycling rates, with the UK currently standing at an impressive 44% overall. Notably, leading recycling areas include:

  • Wales – Pembrokeshire (74.3%)
  • England – Three Rivers District Council (63.5%)
  • Northern Ireland – Antrim & Newtownabbey (60.2%)
  • Scotland – East Renfrewshire (58.1%)

All of these exceed the UK’s target of achieving 55% by 2025. Even waste that defies current recycling methods is converted into energy, generating enough to power around 1.5 million homes daily.

Since 1990, the sector has made significant strides, substantially reducing landfill and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from waste by 46%. CIWM members remain committed to promoting waste reduction and deploying innovative technologies to expedite the transition towards a circular economy. This innovation includes harnessing AI and robotics to enhance productivity and safety at recycling facilities. Notably, robotic arms are already operational in facilities like FFC’s Reading plant, contributing to world-class recycling standards. The sector plans to invest an additional £15 billion in next-generation recycling and resource recovery facilities, such as Viridor’s plastics recycling facility in Avonmouth, furthering the closed-loop economy.

Moreover, the sector is integral to British culture.

Beyond these grand events and investments, the waste and resources industry generates tangible social value through activities such as re-use shops and charity collaborations. Recent research indicates that for every £1 spent on services to Suffolk County Council, FCC, the contractor, generates £0.60 in social value. At the grassroots level, the sector is actively transforming the communities it serves.

Dan Cooke, incoming CIWM President for 2023, commented, “As we mark the 125th year of CIWM, this report offers a glimpse into the truly exceptional services, facilities, contracts, and professionals within the UK’s sector. It showcases our resource efficiency efforts and the benefits we quietly bring to our communities and economy.”

About CIWM:

Established in 1898, CIWM is the leading professional body for the resource and waste management sector, representing over 5,500 individuals in the UK, Ireland, and abroad. CIWM promotes professional competence among waste managers, setting higher standards for those working in the sector through best practices, educational initiatives, and relevant information.

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