Suez publishes report exploring England’s recycling challenges

A new report provides policy-makers with a 'blueprint' for raising household recycling rates now and into the future.

The report was unveiled at the RWM exhibition. Earlier this year, Suez asked SLR Consulting to explore what England needed to do, in both policy and operational terms, to achieve a step-change in the national recycling rate, which is languishing around 45 per cent and currently showing no signs of hitting the required 50 per cent mark by 2020.

As part of the study, the researchers explored common factors and themes among England’s best performing local authorities and sought to determine the impact on recycling of various societal, geographic or demographic factors.

The study also looked at some of the best performing countries across the wider European Union to see how England compared and what we can learn from our European neighbours.

The report determined that universal mandatory weekly food collections, fortnightly residual collections, pay-as-you-throw schemes, stronger communications and re-classifying some acceptable uses of incinerator bottom ash as recycling, would result in an overall uplift of 12 per cent to the national recycling rate – taking the country well over its imminent 50 per cent target.

Beyond that, however, the report questions the pursuit of ever-higher tonnage based targets, which could result in authorities chasing heavier materials (like green waste) and not the valuable or more complex ones, like flexible laminated packaging.

David Palmer-Jones said: “We believe that this report provides England’s local authorities and wider policy-makers with a blueprint for raising our household recycling rate to the next level. These actions and recommendations place the 50 per cent target within reach, but the big question is whether the country’s policy-makers and waste managers can implement the necessary changes in the short time we have available before the 2020 deadline.”


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