Keep Britain Tidy Calls For Single, Nationwide Recycling System

Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy is today calling the current approach of more than 150 local waste management systems barmy and is demanding Government leadership that will break our bad habits and boost recycling rates.

With households across the UK recycling less than half their waste and no substantial improvement in the past five years, Keep Britain Tidy wants to see an overhaul of the existing recycling service that would mean every household in the country recycling the same items to allow for consistent, simple messaging.

The charity believes the huge variety of different recycling schemes in operation across the country contribute to public confusion and frustration and wants to see a new, nationally consistent service being introduced in its place.

“The public has a huge role to play in helping drive this change but we need to get rid of the existing complexity and develop a simple, nationally consistent collection system combined with tangible rewards to encourage better recycling.”

The new service would be funded by contributions from those manufacturers placing products and packaging on the market, removing the need for taxpayers to pick up the bill.

Alongside this new service, the charity is also calling for local authorities to look seriously at incentivising the public to recycle more. In particular, the charity would like to see systems such as ‘Pay as You Throw’, where households who cut down on waste and recycle more are rewarded with lower bills, explored as a way of reducing waste and driving up recycling rates.

These calls for change are being made as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s new action plan ‘Breaking Bad Habits: Moving Towards a Zero Waste Society’, which is being launched at the Labour Party Conference today.

Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy said, “By 1st August 2018, we had already used up a full year’s worth of the earth’s resources, two days earlier than 2017. It’s clear that we need to take radical and immediate action if we are going to really change the way in which we consume, use and then reuse our precious resources.

“The public has a huge role to play in helping drive this change but we need to get rid of the existing complexity and develop a simple, nationally consistent collection system combined with tangible rewards to encourage better recycling.”

A full copy of  ‘Breaking Bad Habits: Moving Towards a Zero Waste Society’ is available to download here  


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  1. All very good ideas, but without the drive to sort collections from households for recycling, we will achieve very little.
    The call on Local Authorities and Government must include development of sortation at MRFs and at least the removal of glass from co-mingled collections.
    Only then will recycling of sorted material develop, increasing volume and thus bring down the cost of recyclate to a level lower than virgin material.

  2. Do any of the people who continually call for a ‘unified approach’ for recycling ever consider the capital cost of replacing all the existing containers/bags/receptacles that are used to store recyclate for collection?
    Or that the 1990 Act gives Councils sole rights of how our waste and recyclate is collected?
    Maybe the loudmouths should speak to a few practising waste managers before spouting off?
    It’s not ‘bad habits’ that contribute to our mediocre recycling rates: it’s a lack of funding and a continued refusal to acknowledge that there’s a limit to how much we can recycle and also ignore the opportunities that efw offers in reducing the amount of waste we landfill.

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