Recycling "cost-effective" say UK NGOs

Groups step up campaign against increased incineration on basis of consultancy study

Two environmental groups yesterday called on the UK government to adopt ambitious domestic waste recycling targets in a forthcoming waste strategy for England and Wales, claiming that new research showed it to be the most cost-effective overall option. Waste Watch and Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland said the research found recycling had "substantial economic as well as environmental benefits".

Prepared for the groups by consultancy Ecotec, the study evaluated both immediate costs of different waste management options and costs of environmental externalities, such as transport and materials extraction. It concludes that "actual costs of recycling per household are lower than current figures suggest, and that the environmental benefits appear greater than those for landfill or incineration," according to Waste Watch. Both groups acknowledge the difficulties of estimating precise environmental externality costs.

Based on overall costs, the study suggests that approximately doubling the two countries' current recycling rate to 21% and landfilling the balance would be the best option. Recycling the same proportion and incinerating the rest comes out slightly less well. Landfilling or incinerating all waste both show much positive overall costs.

Follow Up:
Waste Watch, tel: +44 20 72 53 62 66; Friends of the Earth England, Wales & {Northern Ireland}, tel: +44 20 74 90 15 55. See also a Waste Watch {press release}.

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