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Recycling quality must come before quantity

Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 10:30:21

European Commission representative, Karl Falkenberg, has argued that targeting high levels of recycling is less important to improving the environment and the economy than making sure that the products produced from the recycling process are of a high quality, according to MRW.

Recycling rates certainly generate a lot of coverage, with the UK and others setting significant targets for growth in the amount of recyclable materials that are collected for processing. But, of course, unless the items that come out at the other end of the production line are functional and appealing, the volume of materials being recycled will be of little concern.

Falkenberg has previously been an outspoken critic of setting unrealistic targets for recycling rates overall, instead preferring an approach which focuses on specific materials.

For example, he argues that there should be an EU-wide ban on the disposal of food waste at landfill sites. This makes sense since biodegradable waste is perhaps the easiest to repurpose for other uses, with minimal processing.

Falkenberg also warns that recycling may ultimately become downcycling, with valuable materials turned into less valuable items during recycling, as a result of the quality being compromised.

The EC is setting out a range of fresh proposals on how to tackle the problem of recycling, so that the EU’s economy can become more circular and efficient.

When it comes to mobile phones, resale and reuse are the best options available to people seeking sustainability. If a device is fully functional, then a recycling firm will generally refurbish it and sell it on to a new owner rather than breaking it down for scrap.

This approach is being encouraged elsewhere in the industry by Falkenberg and others, with quality products that come out of these processes being the end goal.




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