The change mirrors the shift in the UK economy from manufacturing to service industries where the waste industry has seen a significant fall in industrial waste arisings over the past decade. Rising landfill tax levels and improved operational efficiency within manufacturing companies have also played a key part.

The report Rubbish Economy was commissioned by RWM in partnership with CIWM, and research undertaken by environmental consultancy Urban Mines. Launching the report at the Birmingham NEC today, Urban Mines’ managing director, Peter Scholes said that it “was clear that commercial waste arisings are a focus for the future”.

He said: “For the first time, commercial waste will exceed that produced by industry. We expect to see fewer tonnes of traditional industrial waste such as sludges and chemicals, but potentially an increase in commercial waste like recyclables and similar materials.”

He added that within the C&I sector, recycling and composting seemed to be the preferred choice for diversion, with those services experiencing strong growth compared to energy-from-waste and thermal treatment options, which remained relatively static.

“The increase in commercial recycling continues to present a significant opportunity to capture those recyclables going through the residual stream as they account for roughly 40% of the total waste. There are plenty of opportunities for more source-segregation to separate out these materials,” he said.

Breaking down the commercial sector further, Scholes said there was still a considerable amount of residual waste going to landfill from retail and wholesale operations. He maintained that there was plenty of scope for more infrastructure to serve the SME market: “40% of total waste arisings in this sector are generated by companies that employ 20 people or less.”

Maxine Perella

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