New recycling framework aims to curb public’s frustration

A new survey has highlighted the public’s continued frustration with what can and cannot be recycled, as a new framework is published to improve services.

The survey, which has been commissioned by Viridor, shows that UK households are keen to recycle more, but half of respondents still don’t know which bin to put their recycling in.

More than three quarters (78%) of people are frustrated because different local authorities recycle different objects and 73% say they would like to see more transparency with what happens to their waste.

‘People across the UK want to recycle more stuff, and recognise the importance of doing so, but they need better systems and support to ensure the right stuff goes in the right bin, every time,’ said Viridor’s director of communications, Dan Cooke.

Yesterday also saw the publication by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) of a new industry framework designed to reduce the number of collection systems to just three.

The Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling for England pledges to tackle to the problems behind recycling packaging, reduce confusion about what items can and cannot be recycling and ensure councils collect core materials with one of three different collection systems.

Representatives from across the sector have developed the framework, with support from both Defra and DCLG.

‘It is only by joining together that we can now realise the benefits of the vision and I look forward to working with all those involved to do that,’ said the chair of the framework’s advisory group, Marcus Gover.

Another industry figure who was also involved with drawing up the framework, the chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) Andrew Bird, added: ‘Right from the start it became clear that the best way to achieve any sort of consistency across the UK was to focus on the materials that were collected and not the method used to collect them.

‘By focusing on the materials it has meant the work was truly cross industry and this sort of cross industry working is something LARAC has called for recently on several occasions if we are to take things forward in a productive manner.’

The Recycling Association also launched its new Quality First campaign yesterday to help improve the quality of its recycled materials.

In the UK, it is essential that we improve the quality of materials we collect for recycling and everyone in the supply chain must take responsibility for that,’ said association chief executive, Simon Ellin.

This includes local authorities, retailers, recycling companies, waste management companies, exporters and even shipping lines as all of these have a legal responsibility to ensure material sent for export meets quality criteria.’ 

Mr Ellin added the figures quoted in the Viridor survey were ‘interesting, but perhaps not surprising, reading’.

With more than three quarters of respondents frustrated by inconsistency and a similar number wanting more transparency when it comes to what happens to their recycling, it’s clear that changes are needed both in terms of practical delivery and communications,’ he said.

The full supply chain must come together under the leadership of central government to act on these findings. Together, we must make systems easier to understand and deliver; we must be clear and consistent; and we must be transparent.

In doing this we will not only improve householder confidence – we will also improve performance and material quality.’

Photo by Smabs Sputzer

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Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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