Last month, the Telegraph ran a report suggesting that the British public were becoming increasingly fed up with recycling meaning the country is at risk of missing it’s EU targets, which could have huge financial consequences. We take a look at the article, and ask if “green fatigue” really is an issue for recycling Brits.
In an article published May 26th, the Daily Telegraph argue that council policies of “imposing numerous confusing bins on households,” have caused “green fatigue” within the country, leading to a significant drop in the amount of waste being recycled.
Over the last decade, British households have been increasing the amount they recycle by over 30%. However, according to new analysis by the UK’s largest waste disposal company SITA UK, the recycling rate has slowed right down almost to a slump, and the UK is some way off meeting the EU’s 50% recycling target.
So why the sudden drop off in recycling? We’re all aware that it’s good for the planet and that sending household waste to landfill sites has a damaging environmental impact.
One reason that has been posed by experts is the over-complication of recycling by councils, who insist on making households separate out their rubbish.
SITA UK chief executive, David Palmer-Jones, told the Telegraph recycling rates “especially in high density urban areas, are undoubtedly higher when councils and their contractors run a mixed collection service.” He believes households “want to have as uncomplicated a way as possible to recycle all their waste.”
There has been some opposition to mixed-bin recycling, particularly from the Campaign For Real Recycling, who cite research done by the Waste & Resources Action Plan. Of those surveyed WRAP found that 87% of households did notmind separating out different materials.
The CRR believe that mixed-bin recycling would benefit only the waste collection companies, who would be able to use the same trucks.
So if it’s not fatigue then what is it?
Another reason cited by the Telegraph is that changing trends in society mean we are using less paper and glass. These two commonly recycled items no longer make up large proportions of recycling collections. SITA argue that “a chronic decline in newspaper readership,” and “glass…being substituted increasingly by plastic” has led to a huge gap in the amount of waste being recycled.
Another reason given for the drop off in recycling is the heavy budget cuts imposed on local councils. Rotherham Council was one such council, which has been forced to close each of its four household waste recycling centres for one day a week, in a bid to meet budget restrictions. Councellor Richard Russell told local news outlets, “we have to make a budget saving of £26,000 and believe the partial closure of these sites is the best way to achieve that.”
As a nation we produced 22.6 million tonnes of waste last year alone. Only 9.8 million tonnes of this was recycled, whilst the rest was incinerated, sent to landfill sites or sent abroad for processing.
What is the answer? SITA propose a different approach to waste collection, suggesting that weekly food collections from all councils would replace the lack of glass and paper being recycled. This would bring the amount of extra tonnes of recycling to be collected to meet the EU target to 500,000 tonnes, against a current shortfall of 2 million tonnes.
You can contribute to the amount of waste being collected by recycling your waste electronic products. To arrange a collection of your WEEE call us now on 01928 242 223.