Recycling Markets

Our habits don’t wholly reflect the well-worked mantra ‘waste as a resource’. Charles Newman casts an evaluator’s eye over our rubbish heap

Every year, we produce an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) globally. The World Watch Institute estimates this will rise to 2.6 billion tonnes by 2025.

And that’s just MSW. In 2010, the European Community generated a total of 2.3 billion tonnes of waste, of which Britain ‘contributed’ 230 million (Source: Eurostat). So, how do we quantify what this is worth? Historically, as these figures reflect, we operate in a business that has focused on waste in terms of its weight, and the costs associated with dealing with it. Even today, figures that reflect the value of the waste management industry do so citing the turnover of companies paid for disposal. Inevitably, this misses the value of waste as a resource and the cost to society.