According to a recent survey, 3 in 10 people don’t recycle as much as they could at home, with 38% citing confusing information on packaging or from councils as the reason.
The results showed a spike among the younger generation, with 57% of 16-34 year olds admitting to not recycling as much as they should because of confusion over what materials can be recycled.
This finding leads to questions about the means by which local authorities and waste service providers are communicating with their younger residents. The poll shows that the likelihood to recycle increases with age, with 82% of 55-74 year olds and 88% over 75s saying they recycle all they can.
People living in Wales, which has been praised for its cohesive and ambitious recycling strategy, were among the most likely to say that they are already recycling all they can (75%) compared to those living in parts of England, such as the West Midlands (69%) and London (68%). People living in Northern Ireland (63%) were least likely to say they recycle all they can.
The findings come from a survey conducted by Serco’s Environmental Services business and long-term research partner Future Thinking, which surveyed over 12,000 members of the general public and has been published to mark National Recycle Week (12-18 September).
Other reasons people gave for not recycling more, included: the need for collections to be more frequent (8%); the need for some kind of financial reward (5%); that they did not have recycling bags or bins (5%); they didn’t believe it was being recycled (4%) and, that they simply could not be bothered (3%).
In response to the findings, professionals are urging the waste industry to work together with local authorities, retailers and consumer goods manufacturers to standardise recycling communications and develop a simpler recycling labelling system for food and product packaging which is easier for consumers of all ages to understand.
Serco’s Business Development Director said: “Clearer and consistent information would help people understand what items to put in the right bins and recycle more, leaving local authorities to set their waste collection policies to suit local needs, and building greater confidence among the public that items that can be recycled are being recycled”.
Claire Tyrrell-Williams, associate director at Future Thinking added: “Changing people’s behaviour and attitudes when it comes to recycling should be a priority going forward. Providing people with the right tools and information, while making the most of the latest insights into human behaviour, is a crucial part of delivering a sustainable and environmentally-conscious future.”
Litter police will be on patrol in Ashford from 5th September in a bid to crackdown on members of the public who discard waste or allow their dogs to foul in the area.
Ashford borough Council expects a “significant number” of £75 on-the-spot penalty fines to be issued over the 12 month trial period, but insists that officers from private company Kingdom, will not have a set target to meet.
Three officers will be on patrol across Ashford town centre and Tenterden, but will be able to move to different locations if required. For example, if places are in need of additional enforcement due to specific problems or major events.
A council spokesman said any profits made will be being pushed back into supporting other environmental projects within the council, including additional dog warden patrols and equipment for litter education and enforcement campaigns.
The litter wardens will wear uniforms similar to the council’s parking enforcement officers and will also be equipped with body cameras,
Ashford is following in the footsteps of seven other Kent authorities, including Canterbury and Maidstone.
Cllr Clair Bell said: “Ashford Borough Council works hard to keep the borough looking clean and tidy for its residents and visitors.
“Despite launching a long term anti-littering campaign in the form of Sir Litternot to discourage this type of behaviour in the borough, it is disappointing to see people are continuing to drop litter and other waste in their own town.
“Kingdom is very experienced and we expect them to take a firm but fair approach when they are dealing with people caught littering in Ashford and Tenterden.”
Phil Burgess, Town Clerk at Tenterden Town Council, said: “Littering and dog fouling has long been a problem in Tenterden and I applaud this initiative for a healthier environment.”
Recycle Week is part of the national Recycle Now initiative managed and funded by WRAP, an organisation that promotes resource sustainability, which is used by over 90 per cent of English local authorities.
Now in its 13th year Recycle Week is a celebration of recycling, with this year’s theme being ‘The Unusual Suspects’. The aim of the week is to encourage people to think about all those items that often get forgotten about when recycling at home.
Recycle Week 2016 will encourage people to recycle more by:
- Highlighting the unusual items that often get forgotten about when recycling around the home
- Showing the benefits that come from recycling
- Motivating them to do more
- Demonstrating how to be an effective recycler
Do you know who the Unusual Suspects are?
The Unusual Suspects include recycled plastic drinks bottles, drink cans, jam jars, cardboard boxes and newspapers, but items such as aerosol cans, foil trays, beauty crème jars and toilet roll tubes and they are often missed.
Paper and cardboard items such as toothpaste boxes and tissue boxes are lurking. If everyone in the UK recycled one toothpaste box, it would save enough energy to run a fridge in over 2,000 homes for a year.
Don’t forget your perfume or aftershave bottles; because the glass from your little scented bottles is also recyclable.
Taking a shower? Remember plastic shampoo, shower gel and moisturiser bottles can be recycled too.
In the kitchen, the unusual suspects help to keep things clean – washing up liquid bottles, soap dispensers, bleach bottles and spray cleaners can all be recycled.
The campaign was originally scheduled for June but clashed with the EU Referendum and so was postponed until September.
It will now work in partnership with other waste reduction awareness campaigns taking part in September, such as Zero Waste Week and Keep Britain Tidy’s Waste Less, Live More week to link activities and messages across the whole month.
You can find out more about Recycle Week 2016 here.
The UK’s first food waste supermarket has opened in Leeds, selling surplus supermarket stock to local residents.
Food waste campaigners from the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP) – who have already revolutionized the way we view food waste through their food banks and “pay-as-you-feel-cafes” – have opened “the warehouse” in a bid to reduce the 10 million tonnes of food waste the UK generates each year.
The supermarket receives deliveries of food from Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Ocado and works in the same way as the project’s cafes. Customers pay whatever they can afford for the food available or offer their time as volunteers helping with transporting, weighing, sorting and selling the food.
Adam Smith, Founder at RJFP said: “We ask that you pay what you feel in time, money and skills. We do have people coming with the intention of paying and if it carries on like it does it will pay for the cost of the warehouse”.
The project hopes to make food destined for the bin accessible to all at an affordable price, with the number of people in the UK using food banks rising to record levels in the past year: the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of 400 foodbanks across the country, gave out over 1.1 million 3-day emergency food supplies in 2015/16 compared to 25,000 in 2008/09.
Around 4.2% of UK food manufactured becomes food waste or surplus, and WRAP research suggests that redistribution efforts have the potential to increase four-fold, to the equivalent of 360 meals a year.
Greater consistency in household collections by England’s local authorities could see a 7% increase in the country’s recycling rate by 2025, according to Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
The ‘Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling for England’ was developed by an advisory group of representatives from across the sector, and supported by Defra and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
If adopted, everyone in England would be recycling the same set of eight core materials by 2025: paper, card, plastic bottles and other rigid plastic packaging, metal packaging, glass containers, food and beverage cartons, and food waste.
The framework draws on local authority and industry good practice that WRAP says has the potential to bring financial and other benefits. Cumulative benefits estimated during an eight-year period include:
- 6 million tonnes of extra recyclable material diverted from disposal, including more than eight million tonnes of food waste
- Avoidance of around five million tonnes of greenhouses gases released into the atmosphere
- An increase to England’s recycling rate by seven percentage points – currently stuck on 44%
Central to the framework is collaborative action to address recycling barriers at three key stages by: increasing the recyclability of packaging, reducing consumer confusion over what can and can’t be recycled and working with local authorities to collect more of the core materials in one of three ways. All supported by widespread communications with householders using the same messages.
WRAP says the industry’s collective vision is that by 2025, packaging is designed, where practical and environmentally beneficial, to be recycled and is labelled clearly to indicate whether it can be recycled or not. Every household in England can recycle a common set of dry recyclable materials and food waste, collected in one of three ways.
The three collection systems presented in the framework are: multi-stream with food; two-stream with food separate; and commingled mixed recyclables with food separate. In each system core materials, including plastic pots, tubs and trays and aerosols, known to cause confusion, are collected.
This would also have a beneficial effect on the level of contamination, which the Resource Association has calculated costs UK reprocessors more than £51m each year.
Marcus Gover, Chief Executive, who chaired the advisory group, said: “By pooling the wealth of recycling experience from across the sectors, we have developed a vision that offers the opportunity to increase recycling, improve the quality of recycled materials, save money and offer a good service to householders. 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”.
Download both the framework and the underpinning analysis from www.wrap.org.uk/consistentrecycling.
Last month a team of volunteers from Tonbridge Canoe Club took to the River Medway in Tonbridge in a joint clean-up operation as part of the Love Kent Hate Litter and Littergram campaigns.
The clean-up was organised by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council in response to recent reports of abandoned supermarket trolleys at several locations on the river. The ten volunteers from Tonbridge Canoe Club were joined by Tonbridge Flood Wardens on foot as they paddled passed Strawberry Vale, Ashby’s Point, The Botany and Bewley’s Weir to clear litter debris using four empty canoes as large floating bins
In total 440kg (almost half a tonne) of rubbish was collected including 15 shopping trolleys, a fire extinguisher, a bicycle, and large wooden hand rails as well as huge amounts of floating debris, which was collected up and bagged.
While the Environment Agency has primary responsibility for the upkeep of the river, there have been a number of organised clean-ups on the River Medway in the past year resulting in a noticeable impact on the appearance of the river and the environment around it. Tonbridge Canoe Club’s involvement has been fundamental in achieving this and, with this in mind; the Borough Council will be looking into the possibilities of working with other organisations in Tonbridge to prevent litter in and around the river.
Cllr David Lettington, the Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Environment Services, said: “Many thanks to Tonbridge Canoe Club for the volunteer work they have carried out and I extend my thanks to everyone who helped on the day. Community involvement has proved to be an invaluable asset to Tonbridge and this latest effort, along with plans to work with other organisations, will no doubt help in continuing to keep the litter-bugs at bay.”
Tonbridge Canoe Club holds an Environmental Champions Award for their efforts in regularly helping to keep the river clean. The scheme aims to encourage more people to make an extra effort to improve the environment. It is open to all Tonbridge and Malling residents and anyone can nominate a person or a group to become an Environmental Champion.
To do so, please call the Council’s Environmental Projects Coordinator on 01732 876295 or email email@example.com.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed that Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, will be the government’s new Waste Minister.
Dr Coffey was appointed to Defra by Prime Minister Theresa May at the end of July following the promotion of Rory Stewart to International Development. However, it was not confirmed at the time whether she would inherit the former parliamentary undersecretary of state’s responsibilities for steering waste and recycling policy
Dr Coffey’s ministerial duties as parliamentary undersecretary of state for the Environment and Rural Opportunities were published on the Defra website earlier this month – confirmation that she would be overseeing waste and resources at government level.
Her responsibilities include:
- natural environment, including biodiversity, the marine environment, and international wildlife trafficking
- rural life opportunities, covering rural childcare, education and skills, and health
- floods, water and waterways
- air quality
- waste management
Dr Coffey was previously the deputy leader of the House of Commons serving under Chris Grayling and served on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee until she was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Michael Fallon, minister for business and energy. Mr Fallon had responsibility for the WEEE directive which is now overseen by Defra.
It remains to be seen whether Dr Coffey will take up Mr Stewart’s campaign to harmonise recycling collections or will choose to pursue her own agenda. The new Secretary of State for Defra – Andrea Leadsom – is known to have supported retaining weekly refuse collections in previous years.
Some waste industry members are likely to be frustrated that Dr Coffey will preside over the ‘waste management’ brief, which was entitled the more progressive ‘resource and environmental management’ when Mr Stewart took up the role in May 2015.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council has partnered with other local authorities in Kent to push for Highways England to clean up and prevent litter on the Garden of England’s roadsides.
A joint letter on behalf of the county’s 13 councils has been sent to Simon Jones, the director of Highways England, urging him to agree to a plan of action. The letter demands better co-ordination so that councils can clean roadsides when roads are closed for maintenance and greater clarity over whose responsibility it is to clean up which roads.
It also says the councils should, along with Highways England, run a joint campaign discouraging motorists from throwing rubbish out of vehicles.
Councillor David Lettington, TMBC’s cabinet member for environment services, said: “We are determined to crackdown on those who continue to litter the borough of Tonbridge and Malling and welcome the opportunity to work with neighbouring authorities to tackle litter across Kent.
“Working regularly with community groups and schools to educate local people on the importance of taking care of our environment only gets the message out so far and more needs to be done to reach a wider audience.
“Taking a collaborative approach in this way will hopefully further spread the anti-littering message and improve our approach to tackling litter over all.”
Councillor Rory Love, chairman of the Kent Resources Partnership, added: “The litter is thrown out of cars and lorries by inconsiderate drivers and passengers as they pass through our beautiful county but it’s the rest of us who have to suffer it and pay for its removal.
“There is an urgent need for a joint plan between Kent councils and Highways England to tackle the unacceptable level of litter.”
Early figures suggest that the number of single-use plastic carrier bags used by shoppers in England has dropped by more than 85% since the introduction of the 5p charge last October.
More than seven billion plastic bags were handed out by seven main supermarkets in 2014, but this figure plummeted to just over half a billion in the first six months after the 5p charge was introduced.
The data is the government’s first official assessment of the impact of the charge, which was introduced in a bid to help reduce litter and protect wildlife – and the expected full-year drop of six billion bags was hailed by ministers as a sign that it is working.
Therese Coffey, Environment Minister said: “Taking six billion plastic bags out of circulation is fantastic news for all of us. It will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won’t be saddled with mountains of plastic sat taking hundreds of years to break down in landfill sites.
“The 5p charge has clearly been a huge success – not only for our environment but for good causes across the country that have benefitted from an impressive £29 million raised.
“It shows small actions can make the biggest difference, but we must not be complacent as there is always more we can all do to reduce waste and recycle what we use.”
The charge has also resulted in donations of more than £29 million from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups, according to the Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs.
England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included. There are also exemptions for some goods, such as raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, seeds and flowers and live fish. Environmentalists welcomed the move but have called for a more comprehensive scheme which includes all retailers and all types of bags.
At the time of the launch, the Government expected the scheme to reduce use of single-use carrier bags by up to 80% in supermarkets and 50% on the high street. It is also expected to save £60 million in litter clean-up costs and generate £730 million for good causes.
A consultation has been launched by Kent County Council (KCC) for the Kent Waste Disposal Strategy, which will form the backbone plan of how household waste is disposed in the county between 2017 and 2035.
KCC is responsible for the disposal and recycling of Kent’s household waste whilst the district and borough councils are responsible for collecting it.
The amount of waste produced is expected to rise by 22% due to a significant increase in housing growth forecast across Kent – going from 711,000 tonnes to 864,000 tonnes – between now and 2031.
By utilising more recycling and recovery opportunities of the more difficult to deal with waste, such as mattresses and hard plastic objects not current recycled, KCC has managed to reduce its annual tonnage of material sent to landfill from 11% in 2014/15 to 4%.
KCC is keen to hear responses to its ambition to deliver a high quality value for money service, with an emphasis on achieving zero waste to landfill.
KCC said: “We are keen to know what you think about the overarching ambition of the Strategy, the key priorities involved and the specific objectives we have set out. We welcome any comments or concerns that will help us improve the Strategy before KCC moves forward to implementation, supported by further public consultation in 2017.”
The draft strategy sets out the current position, identifies future pressures and outlines how KCC intends to maintain a sustainable waste management service in the face of budgetary pressures.
KCC has set out five priorities, which are as follows:
- Working Together: We will work together with our key partners on projects to deliver our ambition.
- Innovation and Change: The services we design and provide will be resilient through accommodating change and growth.
- HWRC Service Delivery: We will provide a value for money service.
- Customer service: We will provide an accessible service whilst encouraging customers to reuse and recycle, and let people know what happens to their waste.
- Commissioning: Our commissioning and contract management approach will provide value for money and the best possible service.
Views can be given until 2nd October 2016 and the full draft strategy can be viewed online at http://www.kent.gov.uk/wastestrategy