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UK recycling rates need a boost

The UK has had a steady growth in recycling since 2000, but in the last few years rates have been increasing at a slower rate, reaching only 44.9% in 2014, from 40.4% in 2010. The EU regulation requires that all European Union countries meet a 50% recycling rate to be reached by 2020, but at this slowing speed, it will not be met.

The image below shows the households recycling rates in the UK. Wales shows the highest performances as well as same areas in England. The truth is, most of the UK households are still struggling to recycle even 40% of their waste.

Surprisingly, rates are even more shocking in London, in which only one borough managed to recycle more than 50% of their household waste produced.

Why have rates not been increasing?

The UK has the potential to recycle a lot more than it does now. In fact, the UK government has already launched plans to reach a “zero waste economy”, where all can be reduced, reused and recycled.

According to a survey carried by Viridor, a waste management company in the UK, 64% of the UK feel that they are not provided with enough knowledge about what to recycle, and 73% are frustrated by the lack of information on what happens to recycled waste collected.

Wales has proven that is possible to increase recycling performance and the rest of the UK can learn a lot from them. Their recycling percentages have increased from 52% (2012) to 60.2% in 2015/16 and they are planning to reach 70% by 2025. This shows that is much room for improvement in the rest of the UK and the 50% recycling rate specified by the EU can be met by 2020, but it will require effort from local councils and the population.

To be able to meet a higher recycling rate than the rest of the UK, Wales has invested a lot in implementing incentive programs and grants schemes to local councils. It is also to be the nation in the EU with the highest recycling percentage and are working towards a “zero waste economy” to be reached by 2050. If you want to learn more about welsh recycling strategies click here.

Increasing the recycling rates by 5% by 2020 does not sound like much, but it is just the minimum, the UK has a long way to go before it can reach a “zero waste economy”.

For it to be possible every household needs to increase how much it is recycled. What about you, do you feel you can recycle more in your household? Do you also feel like you required more information on what is recyclable? Please contact us.

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