Household recycling rates stagnate with UK set to miss 2020 target
6th December 2017 | Recycling
Experts are warning that the UK will miss out on its 2020 target for household recycling as the latest figures show that current rates in England have stagnated at under 45%.
Some argue that recycling rates have stalled in part because of EU targets which are based on weight rather than the value of resources being captured. Annual household recycling rates in England rose by 0.6% last year, but this is almost entirely due to a decision from Defra to include metals recovered post incineration (IBA).
Stripping out IBA material and on a like-for-like basis, recycling rates at the end of December 2016 stood at 44.2%, which is 0.6% below the peak of 44.8% in 2014.
A “radical” policy change is required to get the UK to its 05% target by 202, industry warns. It is thought that a targeted approach will be needed in the most populous areas such as London, which has the lowest recycling rate at 33%.
“A clear national strategy to end stalling rates of recycling is still required,” said waste firm SUEZ’s chief executive David Palmer-Jones. “To increase household recycling rates, Government needs to integrate waste and recycling planning into a modern Industrial Strategy which values the things we throw away as raw materials for manufacturing and as an energy resource.”
Palmer-Jones said that recycling rates have stalled in part because of EU targets which are based on weight rather than the value of resources being captured. Brexit offers an opportunity to ensure producers are responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products and packaging, he said.
Suez wasn’t to see incentives given to responsible manufacturers, with punishments handed out to those who consume virgin raw materials instead of recyclables.
Palmer-Jones continued, “Producers can currently produce cheap, unsustainable products, that are simply thrown away, while the consumer and environment picks up the disposal cost. If manufacturers were required by law to use a certain amount of recycled material in their products, they would quickly take an interest in getting their material back.
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