The future of Recycling
By 2025 EU member states will be asked to reach a municipal waste recycling target of 55%, and just 10 years later that figure will be increased to 65%. To put this change in context, the UK's figure currently sits below 50% and has increased by just 2% in almost a decade.
Finding a solution to the decaying recycling rates is not going to be easy, nor will it improve overnight but most would agree action is needed now. At ReGen, we believe technology can jumpstart the reform but a cultural shift is also needed.
The notion that our disposable economy is a problem is not new. Oolder-generations, in particular, have noted how this culture has shocked our environment. Producing goods that will inevitably end up in landfill is not sustainable, so what is the alternative?
'Circular rethink' is the latest term used to describe how production should be altered. All materials produced should be viewed as commodities and not future waste. Organisations like WRAP in the UK are reaching out to manufacturers to change this perception of raw materials. It's not enough to take this approach moving forward, it's also about finding innovative ways to reuse materials that we already have. The 'plastic problem' that is currently making headlines has already encouraged people to rethink plastic waste which is critical because only 9% plastic produced is recycled at present.
Waste to Energy (WTE)
Again, similar to a more circular approach to materials, WTE is not a new notion. In its rawest form WTE can be traced back to the 19th century, however technology has improved the techniques no-end. Back then incinerating waste meant harmful gasses would escape into the air, but now the process is much greener. In recent years WTE has been used to create fuels through advanced fermentation procedures, and the industry is expected to be worth almost $40Billion by 2020.
At ReGen we use the most advanced technology to transform waste into fuel that can be used to power both homes and businesses across Europe. Learn more about WTE and how we cut out landfill in favour of a greener fuel.
Divide and... recycle
Not long ago scrapyards separated waste by hand and identifying materials was a laborious process. This meant that overheads for recycling were huge and it discouraged many potential investors to enter the industry. Not anymore, as today materials can be identified using advanced technology and be automatically separated. This process can only improve as more and more nations strive to reach targets.
At ReGen we currently separate 1.5 million tonnes of waste, 24-hours per day using the ultra-modern machinery. In the future, we can expect to see these mechanical methods rolled out to address waste at sea, in existing landfill sites and other areas plagued by waste.
The retail industry must take up the baton and credit to many who have already begun making changes. Plastic bags will be removed totally in favour of long-term options and packaging is already being transformed. Until the retail industry prevents people from carting home tonnes of disposable materials, there is little hope for major change.
IKEA have set themselves a target of 90% recycling by 2020, the greater retail industry needs to keep an eye on their progress. The furniture giant has already achieved as high as 80.1% in some sectors.
The greatest change in buying habits will have to be at a consumer level - globally 50% of food ends up in the bin! Food production and rebalancing need to occur sooner rather than later. Until this seismic shift, food waste could be better disposed of. In the short term, levies on certain materials will halt waste (think plastic bags) but the longer term strategy must be education.
In 2017 Cornell University proved that food waste could be transformed into biofuel. It's hard to imagine but soon an important question will be, has your car had its Weetabix this morning?
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