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In the search for effective waste policy: alignment of UK waste strategy with the circular economy.

Fletcher, Carly A and Dunk, Rachel M (2018) In the search for effective waste policy: alignment of UK waste strategy with the circular economy. Detritus, 04. pp. 48-62. ISSN 2611-4135

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Abstract

Over-consumption within a linear economy has been recognised internationally as a barrier to sustainability and a major cause of environmental degradation and economic disparity. To address these issues, the transition towards a circular economy (CE) has been advocated. A broad resource efficiency concept, the CE seeks to reduce consumption, encourages the reuse and recycling of materials and products, and encompasses the three pillars of sustainable development; economic prosperity, environmental protection, and social equity. Efforts to implement the CE have seen the introduction of various hierarchies that prioritise the implementation of R-imperatives (such as the ‘3Rs’ of reduce, reuse, recycle). One such example is the waste hierarchy, originally introduced to encourage sustainable waste management and more recently reiterated by the EU Circular Economy Package as a means to stimulate the transition to the CE. Following the development of a CE Framework, this study presents a content analysis of the waste strategies of the four devolved nations of the United Kingdom. Key differences and similarities in the strategies of the four devolved nations are identified and discussed in light of CE aims, core concepts and principles (with particular focus on promotion of the waste hierarchy), enablers, and stakeholder engagement, where Scotland and Wales were found to have the most progressive strategies. This study also considers the potential impact of Brexit, where it is recommended an overarching UK-wide strategy that provides consistent and collaborative long-term objectives is required to replace the overarching objectives previously supplied by the EU policy.

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