Recycling rate and target setting: challenges for standardized measurement
The recycling rate is one of the most widely used indicators for monitoring progress in waste recycling and resource-saving activities. Basically, the recycling rate is calculated as the proportional value (%) of waste recycled from the total waste generated. An increase in this indicator usually means that the progress is being made in recycling activities. However, many countries define and calculate the recycling rate in many different ways. Recycling rates take many forms and levels of waste recovered, such as recovery rate, collection rate, diversion rate, and cyclic use rate. Such diverse definitions and lack of standardized measurements for the recycling rate often require careful treating of the recycling rate value to avoid incorrect or confusing comparison and interpretation. In the Asian context, disparities in defining the recycling rate are even more pronounced. This is mainly because of the prevalent presence of informal recycling sector in Asia, which often go unrecorded. This paper highlights the need for a standardized measurement of recycling rate in Asia for careful target setting of 3R policy and monitoring the progress of 3R in the region.