Waste: quality not quantity
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has released a report on waste management and has concluded that the focus should now shift to the quality of what is recycled not just quantity.
It says precious resources such as paper, glass and plastics are in danger of being underused and destined for landfill because councils' performance is being judged on quantity.
In the report, State of the Nation: Waste and Resource Management 2011, the Institution calls for industry and local authorities to move away from burying valuable resources in landfill.
This, it says, presents an opportunity to recover more value from waste, creating jobs and reducing the burden of the environment.
Recycled materials have a lower carbon footprint than raw materials, so increased recycling could help lower carbon emissions.
ICE waste and resource management expert Jonathan Davies said: "We still need more action to drive up the quality of the material being produced.
"Without this, the UK could generate increasingly poor quality recycled materials for which there are few buyers, and ironically their most likely final destination is landfill.
"In a world driven by carbon reduction and global competition for resources, it is time for the UK waste industry to evolve from a disposal sector into a supply sector that unlocks the real economic value of materials in a low carbon fashion." Alison Brown