Opportunity in Recession

Global economic downturn, rising unemployment, increases in the gulf between rich and poor, growing levels of crime and disorder.  Does this sound like a familiar litany of the doom and gloom that surrounds us?  And we haven’t even mentioned climate change yet.

Well, it may sound depressingly familiar and often impossible to see a clear way forward.  In the overall scheme of things, the concern that we in REalliance have about the use of resources may seem modest and to some self indulgent in the face of such major challenges.

We disagree.

If anything, it is those exact challenges that give REalliance and its partners all the motivation we need to make changes.  And change we must, as time is not on our side. 

Western economies have been profligate with resources and wanton in our disposal of ‘waste’ to ever-growing landfills for far too long.   Not only have we allowed valuable materials to be wasted, we waste opportunities and human ingenuity along the way.  The scourge of unemployment is returning to our shores with all the distress and poverty it leaves in its wake.

True, in recent years, the 3R’s agenda in the UK has chimed to the song of better household recycling, some investments in waste prevention, more producer responsibility for products (such as packaging, electronics, cars and batteries) and a host of new initiatives with producers, retailers and consumers.  All of this has taken the UK average household recycling rate to around 35 per cent - much better than it was a decade ago, but still at around the EU average.

We have the chance to be leaders in both resource and economic recovery.   The 3Rs agenda of waste reduction, re-use and recycling gives us the chance to reclaim far higher amounts of ‘waste’ materials, create thousands of ‘green jobs’ in the process, invest in social enterprises that ‘keep it local’ and recycle people back into employment as well as money and materials back into the local economy.  On top of all that, it will help in the battle to reduce carbon emissions, as most recycling provides tangible energy and carbon saving compared to burning and burying the same materials.

This time, the doom and gloom can provide us with the opportunity to make some real and positive changes – to our economy, our society and our climate.  It is an opportunity REalliance seeks to play its part in, and it is one we mustn’t waste.