THE UK is still languishing behind the EU in recycling and the battle over weekly versus fortnightly collections is confusing for homes and business, according to Cheltenham-based Printwaste Recycling & Shredding.
Here, Don Robins, managing director of the recycling and waste management specialist, shares his thoughts on what more needs to be done to bridge the gap.
IN the UK the target is to recycle 50 per cent of all waste from households by 2020.
A DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) report highlights that in 2011-12, 43 per cent of household waste was recycled in England.
It also confirms the Government is leading by example, having achieved their 2014-15 targets for green commitments by achieving reductions in levels of carbon, water and waste.
This is commendable, but by comparison with some members of the EU, we are way behind.
The potential for almost zero waste and the drive to recycle more has been proved possible by the likes of Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Belgium.
The DEFRA report lists less than five per cent municipal waste going to landfill.
Looking at our European neighbours, the UK has the potential to improve recycling rates by a long way.
These facts suggest that Communites and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is missing an opportunity.
Engaging the public positively regarding waste and recycling requires a straight orward message, which is not confused by a general rule on how often collections should be made.
Collection schedules are a logistics issue and in this age need to be adaptable.
Increasing recycling rates can be seen by many councils to reduce cost, but achieving these goals requires education and publicity to engage the will of the public.
The £250 million fund would have been better spent on education rather than confusing the message to the councils by imploring them to go back to weekly collections.
There will naturally be densely populated areas of districts where weekly collections are required.
But if we want to achieve 50 per cent recycling where individual family homes have the space for their own bins, then we need to provide 50 per cent of the bin space for recycling materials and, when provided, alternative weekly collections are being seen to work.
In many areas the combination of these factors is contributing to the issue of overflowing waste bins.
The UK Government needs to follow its own example and, having digested the DEFRA report, take another look at the way they are advocating a return to weekly collections.
â Printwaste Recycling & Shredding is based on Tewkesbury Road, Cheltenham.
It was established to collect waste paper from local printers in 1983 by Don and his brother Geof Robins.