That was the conclusion of a report published this week (October 5) by the Green Alliance. The long-awaited Reinventing the wheel: a circular economy for resource security study examines the advantages and disadvantages of using pricing to improve the circulation of three crucial major resources – metals, phosphorous and water.

The Green Alliance is calling for a more circular use of these resources in the economy, which it argues would avoid some of the damaging, environmental impacts of extracting them as well as avoid the negative impacts of generating waste.

Drawing on input from the Designing out Waste consortium, the report makes a number of key policy recommendations. This include improving collection rates and incentives for recovery, and introducing recycling rates that focus on specific materials and their quality, rather than simply on tonnages.

It also says the product design process must make recovery easier and encourage longer product life. Measures to avoid leakage of valuable materials through exports should also be taken.

The Green Alliance argues that a multi-pronged approach is needed to improve product design, drive up the capture of products at end of life, and ensure that good substitutes are available for materials that will become more difficult to access in the future.

It is calling on the Government to promote economic incentives that encourage the waste and recycling industry to adopt a ‘whole life’ approach to products and materials.

Nick Warburton

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie