Squaring the circle

The debate over the EU circular economy package has been amplified by the impending referendum. But is the best path a closed-loop society or does this distract from the real challenges facing the UK’s waste sector? Conor McGlone reports

Weak recycling market hinders progress towards circular economy. Low oil prices make oil-derived plastics more competitive than recycled plastics. Photograph: Bogdan Ionescu/123RFThe pressing need for a circular economy is undeniable. The UK currently recycles less than 50% of its waste and is in danger of missing EU targets.

Speaking at an All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) event in March, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, shadow spokesperson for DEFRA, described the UK’s refuse collection service as overly complex. She reminded those gathered of resource minister Rory Stewart’s description of the current fragmented system as “absurd”.

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