Clearer labelling urged to boost recycling rates

7th November 2019 | Recycling

Clearer labelling to show if packaging can be recycled is needed to help councils boost recycling rates, town hall chiefs have urged. There also needs to be increased charges for hard-to-recycle products and measures to force producers to pay the full cost of disposing of their waste, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

Labelling for all products needs to be improved, as it is often unclear and conflicting, with more than 20 different symbols that can appear on packaging – leaving consumers confused about what can and cannot be recycled. This can mean recyclable material ends up in landfill or incineration or that unrecyclable packaging ends up contaminating recycling streams. While the LGA said councils had used successful initiatives to increase recycling rates in the area, more action is needed to help them boost recycling rates and tackle the waste crisis.


The current national rate has been static at around 45% of household waste in England over the past few years – against a recycling target of at least 50% by 2020. Research by one council, Devon County Council, found that two fifths of household waste going in the “Black bin” rubbish could be recycled with the current collection services offered in the area.

Along with better labelling to make recycling less confusing for householders, there also need to be measures to charge manufacturers more to cover the costs of dealing with packaging that is hard to recycle, the LGA said. Clearer labelling and increased charges for hard to recycle products would help councils, manufacturers and the public be part of a vital recycling revolution. This will encourage manufacturers to switch to recyclable alternatives and generated income for councils to invest in waste collection and recycling, as well as initiatives such as recycling campaigns and curbing fly-tipping.

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