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UK Government Fails to Back EU Recycling Targets

UK Government Fails to Back EU Recycling Targets

UK Government Fails to Back EU Recycling Targets

The UK government is opposing new recycling targets set by the EU even though it recently promised to develop new targets and set milestones, according to a confidential report. The Prime Minister Theresa May launched a 25-year environment plan earlier this month, which was heavily focused on reducing plastic pollution.

Lack of UK support for EU waste targets is revealed

The European parliament voted on a new target to recycle 65% of urban waste by 2035, but the UK refused to support it, even though the target was reduced from the 70% target that was originally proposed. The UK’s own environment officials estimate that meeting the 65% target by 2030 would save the government almost £10 billion in costs related to waste management and disposal, greenhouse gases, and social issues.

The government needs to act

The Labour party say that recycling targets have stalled under this government and that they are now way behind achieving their targets. The UK is set to miss its target of 50% recycling by 2020, as the current rate has stuck at 44%.

Environmental campaigners react angrily

Greenpeace have said that the government has demonstrated hypocrisy over environmental issues, as they have announced ambitious targets at home, while widely opposing them in Europe.

The government response

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed that the government will go over the proposals thoroughly before they vote on whether to support the revised EU targets.

He added that UK recycling rates are improving, less waste is being sent to landfill, and that the government are working with industry to improve recycling rates even further. The government argues that recycling targets have to be achievable, and they must reflect the impact that different materials have on the environment. For example, if recycling targets are based on the weight of the rubbish that is being recycled, it might result in waste such as heavy garden waste being given a higher priority than plastic which is much lighter.

Can the UK meet its recycling targets?

Defra insist that the UK can meet a 55% recycling target with the current infrastructure, but if targets were set even higher, behaviours and business operations would have to be significantly changed. However, the government appreciate that changes to the system have to be made, in light of China’s decision to stop accepting imported waste.

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