The strategy sets out how the government can build on Wales’ success as a recycling nation in its response to the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 and the climate emergency
The Welsh government has launched its circular economy strategy, in which resources and items are kept in use for as long as possible and waste is avoided.
The “Beyond Recycling” strategy aims to make Wales’ recycling rate – currently ranked the third in the world – the best on the planet.
In order to do this, it wants to become world-leading in reusing, repairing and manufacturing from what would otherwise be thrown away.
Additionally, it wants to reduce the amount of food wasted in Wales, and bring down the amount of unnecessary single-use items it uses and is littered.
The country’s minister for environment, energy and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “By helping us to manage our resources, the steps set out in ‘Beyond Recycling’ will help us to drive our green recovery to the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and the impact of the climate emergency – as well as playing a vital and necessary part in our route to becoming a net-zero carbon nation by 2050.
“But as well as helping us to face those challenges, the strategy also sets out how this is a fantastic opportunity for Wales.
“Our circular economy can be world-leading, and help businesses not just to improve resource use at home, but also to compete internationally.
“There is already fantastic work taking place all over Wales in which it is playing a key role in our green recovery from the pandemic.
“We have a burgeoning green business sector helping to boost our economic resilience, and social enterprises and charities supporting communities to keep items in use as long as possible, and support households facing tight budgets.
“The global economy is looking at the potential of the circular economy, but here in Wales we are in a prime position to lead.”
Move to a circular economy by the Welsh government has ‘never been more important’
Moving to a circular economy, which eliminates waste by cutting down throw-away consumption and turning materials that would have been previously sent to landfill into a valuable resource, has never been more important.
The strategy, therefore, sets out how the government can build on Wales’ success as a recycling nation in its response to the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 and the climate emergency.
This includes a commitment to jumpstart a step change in public sector procurement, worth £6.7bn ($9.3bn) per year in Wales, with low-carbon, resource-efficient businesses to be given priority in tenders that use money from the public purse.
Over the last year, the Welsh government has already rapidly increased funding for circular economy projects from £6.5m ($9m) to £43m ($60m).
This has supported 180 initiatives in every part of Wales, bringing together communities to fix their broken goods, redistribute wholesome food that would have otherwise ended up in the bin, or repurpose pots and plastics into furniture for homes.
Rosalie McMillan, founding director of Smile – an organisation that makes hand-crafted panels from waste materials, and received some funding from the Welsh government – said: “We’ve worked with a range of materials, but our real love is plastics.
“Ours are sourced from post-industrial, commercial and single-use consumer plastics – often from food and medical packaging.
“Plastics such as these are typically low value for the waste management industry and may end up in landfill or incineration plants.
“However, through design, we flip the value category on its head, creating high-value materials that people want to be around.”