Data on the raw material value of cars and mobile phones presented on the front cover was drawn from material content reports for a Ford Fiesta, and an iPhone 4, combined with data on the material content and value of relevant PCBs drawn from multiple sources including Goosey and Kellner, 2002, A scoping study: end of life printed circuit boards; Nakajima et al., 2007, Substance flow analysis of indium for flat panel displays in Japan; and Chehade et al., 2012, Recovery of gold, silver, palladium, and copper from waste printed circuit boards
All data on tonnages of wood, plastic, textiles, and food landfill arisings are based on data from WRAP, November 2012, Landfill bans: feasibility research.
In order to calculate the avoided landfill costs of each material, these tonnage figures were multiplied by the average gate fee for landfill (£85/tonne) minus the average gate fee for alternative treatment for wood (£21/tonne), plastic (£9/tonne), and food (£41/tonne). These figures are drawn from WRAP, Gate Fees Report 2012. For textiles, savings are based on avoided landfill and a very conservative estimate of the residual value of textiles (£121/tonne) from WRAP, September 2012, Textiles flow and market development opportunities in the UK. Overall, this approach for avoided landfill costs is conservative in excluding economies of scale in reprocessing, and excluding trends for reduction in recycling, remanufacturing and reuse costs.
In order to calculate the value recoverable from these materials, we calculated the reported value to reprocessors of reuse, recycling, and energy recovery using conservative estimations of the quality of the recovered material.
For wood, it was assumed that 40 per cent of landfilled wood would be used as biomass with a sales value of £105/tonne, drawn from WRAP, 2011, Realising the value of recovered wood. The remainder was assumed to be used for the lowest grade of chipboard, selling for an average of £200/m3 as reported in UNECE/FAO, 2012, Forest products annual market review 2011-2012.
For plastic, it was assumed that 80% could be recovered at various grades averaging £275/tonne, based on data from WRAP and MRW, November 2012, Materials Pricing Report. The remainder was assumed to be low quality mixed plastics, selling for £35/tonne. This excludes the much higher value (£790/tonne for rPET for example) that could be captured if the UK had sufficient reprocessing infrastructure to recycle plastic domestically, and instead reflects the current market situation in which the UK exports much of its collected plastics.
For textiles, the proportions and value of secondary use found in WRAP, September 2012, Textiles flow and market development opportunities in the UK were used to estimate the total value recoverable. In doing so, the most valuable uses were reduced to reflect the possibility that high value articles are already recovered at optimal levels – UK reuse was excluded, and export reuse was reduced to 65% of total recovery.
Food was assumed to be diverted to anaerobic digestion, with the value of energy, compost and digestate (£105/tonne) minus the avoided gate fee forming the value recovered figure. This conservative estimate excludes much higher value recovery possible through avoided food waste, donation of unsold but good quality food via schemes like Fareshare, and diversion of food waste to animal feed.
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