Inconsistent packaging and plastic recycling is costing the UK £1.7bn a year, as councils enforcing different methods are confusing the process. Items are being treated differently in different areas, and by different collection and sorting services. The need for an all-for-one education about domestic packaging and plastic recycling is immediate.
An estimated 30% of all plastic and packaging is recycled in the UK, and two thirds of that gets exported worldwide, mostly to the Far East. Electronics waste is a different story entirely, with just 2% being reused, less than a tenth of its potential. There are calls from the public, councillors and campaigns groups for national standardization, with a collective decision on bin colours, sorting processes and post-sorting logistics. The changes will encourage consistency at all stages for packaging and plastic recycling. The problems are rooted at local and council level. Locals are not happy with the current scheme, claiming that council bosses are getting bonuses whilst their recycling collection gets worse. The amount of items they are taking decreases (some councils wont take carrier bags or cardboard) and there is a growing consensus that many people would much rather have a reduction in council tax costs and take their own waste to a sorting centre. Is this an idea that could be explored, or is it just another step in an already confusing process? Our counterparts in mainland Europe are years ahead of us. Packaging and plastic recycling is done by material type, and is treated in the same way at all centres, allowing for minimal confusion. The reasons for the UK not following suit are unclear, and perhaps it is just the result of too many voices and not enough ears.
The £1.7 billion figure that is supposedly being lost is the findings of work carried out by the Green Alliance Circular Economy Task Force. The financial conclusion is staggering, and they believe that costs are being unnecessarily passed on to taxpayers. They claim Council Tax bills could drop by as much as £61 per year if the correct changes were made. Education, recycling and reprocessing all need major government funding for a huge cross-sector shake-up. How do you think they should start? You can see the full report from the Green Alliance Circular Economy Task Force here: http://www.greenalliance.org.uk/wasted_opportunities:smarter_systems_for_resource_recovery.php Photo Credits: Tristan Cartmel