Last Wednesday saw proposals unveiled by the EU that will require UK councils to recycle up to 70% of their waste over the next decade, a demand that will require a huge increase in the amount of waste diverted from landfill.
The Guardian believes that the new targets could be difficult for the UK to reach, following a period of stagnation for recycling rates across the country. Despite an increase over the last 10 years from 12% to 43%, the UK’s recycling rate is well behind other countries in Europe. Germany, in particular, recycles over 60% of their waste.
Campaigners have called for the government to show leadership on the issue, with Steve Lee of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management demanding a more “stable framework” to encourage investment in recycling.
Currently, the coalitions attitude to recycling has been labelled as “notably hostile”. The Guardian notes that suggestions of fortnightly bin collections and charges on un-recycled rubbish had been largely dismissed by some ministers, including the Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles, who declared “I firmly believe that it is the right of every English man and woman that (their rubbish) can be put in the bin without the worry that a fortnight later it is rotting and making life unpleasant.”
Increasing recycling targets to match EU guidelines would have a positive impact on the economy, many Green campaigners have suggested.
Janez Potcčnik, the European commissioner for the Enrionment, told the Guardian, “if we want to compete (with emerging economic markets) we have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills as waste.”
Many of the products that we recycle get turned into low-value products – used in construction or the building of roads. But if higher-value products were created when recycled, then there could be the potential to build a major industry within the UK.
The need to boost recycling targets could result in more jobs with the recycling industry, and would benefit the environment that would suffer from continually adding to landfill sites.
Potcčnik warned that the benefits of a “circular economy” would not happen overnight, but required “the right policies”. The EU policies “are about taking action today to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and exploiting the business and job opportunities it offers.”
Recycling in the UK has stalled for a number of reasons. A few weeks ago we wrote a blog detailing the rise of “green fatigue” across the country. We asked whether people across the UK were becoming disillusioned with recycling.
Of the 22.6 million tonnes of waste being thrown away each year, only 9.8 million tonnes is recycled.
We believe that it’s time that we all stepped up our recycling habits to ensure that we reach EU targets by 2030. By collecting your waste electrical equipment we are helping to achieve the zero waste economy.
To read the full article at the Guardian online, you can click on the link here.
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