Recycled products should have lower VAT to drastically reduce waste, say MPs.
MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee also believe the UK should have longer warranty periods for consumer goods and a ban on food waste being sent to landfill.
Their new report ‘Growing a Circular Economy – Ending the Throwaway Society’ points to figures showing a tiny 6% of the 7.2 million tonnes of food waste is separately collected for organic recycling in the UK every year.
Joan Walley MP, EAC Chair explains: “Less than half of all the stuff we throw away each year is recycled and turned back into something useful, despite prices for raw materials rising across the world. Global food prices have roughly doubled since the beginning of the century, metal prices have trebled and energy prices quadrupled.”
Businesses told the MPs different area-by-area recycling regimes in England are confusing, sub-scale and make it harder for companies to access valuable materials that could be reused.
The MPs report cites evidence from experts that materials such as copper are becoming harder to extract.
Green Alliance’s Dustin Benton told them: “There is copper in all of the wires in this room, in our smartphones, everywhere. We could not run a modern society without it… When we started measuring back 150 years ago there was about 7% copper in every ton of ore that we got. Today it is about 0.6%.”
Ms Walley warns a change is needed: “Unless we rethink the way we run our economy and do business in a different way, environmental problems like climate change will get worse and the cost of living and doing business in the UK could continue to rise.”