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Will There Be National Standards Set for Recycling

Will There Be National Standards Set for Recycling

Will There Be National Standards Set for Recycling?

The environment secretary, Michael Gove, is considering introducing national standards to end the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ on recycling.

He has introduced a 4-point plan that will make recycling less confusing for millions of people. Local authorities are currently free to decide what they recycle, and this has led to huge differences in what they recycle; some recycle every type of plastic and some recycle none at all.

Why is the plan being introduced?

The proposals will aim to:

  • Reduce the total number of plastics in use
  • Cut the use of single-use items like straws and coffee cups
  • Improve the overall recycling rate
  • Make it easier for people to know what can be recycled and what they should put in general waste

Making it easier for people to recycle

Making recycling easier for people and standardising council recycling services will help to improve the overall recycling rate. England is currently ranked at 18th in the recycling league table. Environmental campaigners say that the fact that council service offerings are so different has a huge part to play in falling recycling rates across the country.

Recent figures from WRAP say that 8 million households can’t recycle everyday plastics like food trays and plastic tubs because councils won’t collect them. Only 7% of councils accept carrier bags for recycling.

Image courtesy WRAP UK

The catalyst for the proposals

Mr Gove spoke in a meeting last week and said he wanted to take action on plastic waste after seeing the Blue Planet documentary on the BBC, which showed harrowing images of marine animals caught up in, or being poisoned by, plastic litter.

Other measures to tackle plastic

The Department for the Environment has also started consultations with beverage manufacturers regarding introducing a deposit return scheme to cut the number of plastic bottles that end up in rivers and oceans.

Charities welcome the proposals

The proposals are set to be implemented in the new year as part of a comprehensive 25-year environmental strategy, and they have been welcomed by Greenpeace and Wrap. Greenpeace say that it’s a positive thing that the government are tackling the problem in a few different areas, from reducing the use of disposable plastics at their source, to making it easier for recycling firms to reuse them.

What the councils say

The Local Government Association said that they feel that standardising recycling services would not be effective, as there is no one solution that would work for every local authority. They added that the key to solving recycling issues is reducing the amount of non-recyclable waste that is produced in the first place, and that working with manufacturers and retailers to do this should be a priority. They believe that the answer lies in producing packaging that is easily recyclable, which is easier for people to dispose of, and far better for the environment.

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