The UK recycling industry increased by 15% last year, to hit a market value of £23.3 billion. Waste firms increased their combined turnovers in 2011 - but profits dropped during this time.
The UK recycling sector has undergone drastic change over the past 14 years since Landfill Tax was first introduced. From a focus on how to cope with increasing volumes of waste to be collected and processed, the emphasis has transformed to one of recycling, smart treatment and recovery of materials for use in many industries.
The economic crisis had a significant impact on activity in the UK recycling market, as it dropped by nearly 14% in 2009, partly resulting from declined demand for recycled materials and lower support for recycling by the NGOs and the UK Government, which implemented austerity measures to curb public debt.
The UK recycles around 40% of household waste, 52% of industry and commercial waste, and around 62% of packaging waste.
Until recently, most of the waste generated in the UK was deposited in landfills or incinerated, but strict UK and EU regulations are now targeted at improving the means of waste disposal, developing new technologies for energy recovery, and a shift of focus from waste disposal to waste minimisation.
As a result, recycling has become a key component of the UK's waste management strategy and the UK waste management market ranks among the most attractive in Europe.
Around a quarter of static recycling sites are located in the south east, which also contains many of the higher volume plants. Nationally, 16 plants have been identified that produce over 200,000 tonnes a year.
The top five recycled aggregates companies have been identified as Tarmac, Lafarge, Day & Sons, Aggregate Industries and Frimstone. Although these are well established companies in this sector, they represent less than 15% of the market.
Although the UK recycling market is set to grow at a healthy pace once the economy is back on its feet, the short to medium term will remain challenging. Many waste infrastructure projects have been cancelled or delayed and bank funding for waste projects is still difficult to obtain.
For more information on the UK recycling market, see the latest research: UK Recycling Market
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