The Costs of Recycling


Why are local authorities favouring commingled systems? \’Recycling is the front line of capitalism,\’ argues Matthew Thomson of the Community Recycling Network charity. \’We spend 1.5 per cent of our GDP on treating waste and we\’re at the bottom half of the European league. If you\’re looking for a growth opportunity, then you\’re going to come into the international waste market.\’

Where in hell does that number come from? GDP is about £1.2 trillion, so 1.5% is £18 billion. Last time I looked (at the PM\’s report which launched the whole game) the statement was that we spent £1.6 billion (which would rise to £3.2 billion) treating domestic waste. That \’s 0.15% of GDP, not 1.5%.

Anyone know?

4 thoughts on “The Costs of Recycling”

  1. Why do we want to increase the amount of GDP we spend on treating waste? What is it with governments getting all competitive on fractions of GDP?

    “I wasted 10% of my pay cheque this month.”

    “Yeah, well, I pissed 20% of mine up the wall”

  2. Maybe he’s factoring in the cost of the time we all spend sorting out the recycling, so that the council can dump it all in the same landfill.

  3. He’s probably including construction, demolition, commercial and industrial wastes.

    In 2006 we spent around £2.4bn on municipal waste. My understanding is that the turnover of the controlled (municipal + commercial) wastes sector is around £9bn.

    Still, 1.5% does seem a bit of an exaggeration.

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