Eco-tech patent filings dropping off

As the world hunts for technological solutions to climate change, the waste industry has seen the number of environment patents it files fall, according to new analysis by innovation funding specialist Catax.

The UK waste industry filed 39 eco patents in 2000, falling to 22 in 2010, before recovering slightly to 37 in 2020.  

Globally, environmental patents in the waste industry rose from 418 in 2000 to 831 in 2010 to 1,128 in 2020, a 170% increase in 20 years and a 36% rise in ten years. Italy’s waste industry saw the biggest rise by proportion, growing 410% in 20 years, from 9 in 2000 to 44 in 2020.

Table: G7 environmental patents in the waste industry

 200020102020% change in 10 years% change in 20 years
UK39223765%-4%
USA8921124616%177%
Germany5075761%51%
Japan581241327%129%
Canada22274463%101%
France29556112%109%
Italy9314443%410%
World418831112836%170%
Source: Catax/OECD

Generally, patents relating to environmental technology have fallen in recent times, dropping 3% worldwide in the past five years. The United States, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy are all producing fewer eco patents than they were 10 years ago.

Table: Total environmental patents for G7 countries in 2010, 2015 and 2020

 201020152020% change in 5 years% change in 10 years
UK700815736-10%5%
USA5,4635,6794,555-20%-17%
Germany2,8412,6812,398-11%-16%
Japan5,0986,1023,958-35%-22%
Canada399423385-9%-4%
France1,0241,2601,084-14%6%
Italy4063643732%-8%
World22,12125,41324,611-3%11%
Source: Catax/OECD

“The UK’s waste industry is underperforming compared to its G7 rivals when it comes to researching solutions to environmental issues. The UK is producing fewer patents than it was 20 years ago, and is now creating fewer innovations in this area than the rest of the G7,” said Nigel Holmes, director of tax at Catax.

“Research into environmental technology will be vital in the battle against climate change, and the waste industry needs innovation to help it reduce emissions. The UK has a strong heritage of innovation, but research institutions and businesses need to make the most of government support available, which can provide the resources to make even more innovation possible.