Reuse and repair of household items, from washing machines to phones, and recycling of disposable consumer items such as plastic bottles, could create hundreds of thousands of green jobs across the UK, discovered a think tank.
The UK creates thousands of tonnes of unnecessary waste every year, some of which is still exported, due to an inability to assess the resources and invest in the infrastructure needed to reuse manufactured goods.
The Green Alliance think tank found that prioritizing the repair and reuse of manufactured goods could create more than 450,000 jobs over the next 15 years, many in areas where traditional manufacturing has declined.
Currently, many expensive products are thrown away, exported or broken for recycling, which does not reflect the value and carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the energy and materials that go into its manufacture. For example, a refurbished iPhone might be sold for around half of its original price, but once recycled it’s only worth 0.24%.
Highly skilled jobs could be created in the repair of complex goods such as electronics and machinery, while about a third of the jobs forecast in the report would take the form of lower skilled jobs, which would be created if efforts to recycling of materials such as plastics were intensified. at the top. For years plastic waste has been exported abroad, where it is often simply thrown away or burned.
However, the Green Marine report released on Wednesday showed that much more effort was needed on the part of the government to stimulate a “circular economy” where waste was minimized and the value of resources retained, by promoting reuse and repairing items, with recycling as a last resort. At the current rate, the growth of the circular economy is so slow that only 40,000 new jobs would be created by 2035.
The think tank is pushing for policies it says would boost jobs, including a target to halve UK resource use by 2050; Zero rate VAT on repairs and refurbishments; and training programs to equip workers with the necessary skills.
Zoe Avison, Green Alliance, said: “A great program to avoid unnecessary waste and recover the value of materials would not only help consumers, but create jobs in communities across the country. This is a great opportunity for the Chancellor to show his commitment to develop innovation and for the government to show the meaning of upgrading. “
MPs also urged the government to consider ways to boost the reuse and repair of goods, including a right to repair, according to which consumer goods, from cars to televisions, must be designed to be easier to repair. , rather than scrapping. Right to repair rules were developed in France and came into effect on electronics products in the EU earlier this year, requiring products to last at least a decade. US President Joe Biden is also taking action on the issue and the Australian government is considering similar action.
The UK now requires white goods such as dishwashers and washing machines to carry limited repair rights, including the provision of spare parts within two years of the introduction of a product and for seven to 10 years after its shutdown, but computers and smartphones have so far been excluded. Campaigners say the rules should go much further.