Following on from last month’s post, where we looked at some of the more interesting reasons to recycle, we got to thinking about just what would happen to recycling in the UK should Brexit become a reality. There’s been a lot reported on the impact of Brexit on the economy and net migration numbers, but just what is out there when we consider the impact that leaving the EU would have on recycling?
First of all, it is widely agreed that the EU is the driving force behind a large proportion of the UK’s recycling policies. The UK has a target of 50% for waste recycling by 2020, a target which has been driven by the EU, and which has been the primary reason for the investment of hundreds of millions of pounds and the creation of many thousands of jobs into this sector. The EU is contemplating a further target of 65% by 2030, which would ensure that this sector continues to grow through additional investment. However while Scotland and Wales have set more ambitious targets for their waste recycling, (with Wales already over the 50% mark), England is lagging behind at 45%. Leaving the EU could mean that these targets are abandoned.
However, an analysis of the area of recycling in which we are involved, the WEEE directive for companies that produce electrical or electronic waste, concludes that there would be little or no impact in the event that we left the EU. Companies would still have the same obligations when it came to recycling this waste, and the UK would likely continue to follow EU directives, as choosing to do otherwise, at least in the short term, would involve drafting, writing and passing new waste laws. One option upon leaving the EU would be to follow the example of Switzerland and Norway, two countries which have chosen simply to adopt EU directives when it comes to producer recycling.
When we consider the investment that has gone into the industry, and the jobs that it has created, the post Brexit outlook is even more positive. Surveys conducted in the industry indicate that in this event, job losses are not expected. Most of our trade is currently done with EU member states, and this would be unlikely to change, meaning it makes sense to continue adhering to current legislation and meeting those targets.
So whether the UK votes yes or no come the 25th June, at least we can rest assured that the recycling industry seems likely to continue at a steady pace.