According to new research, only one third of all plastic packaging used for consumer products is recycled each year, with the remaining two thirds being sent to landfill or incineration.
Only 500,000 tonnes of the 1.5m tonnes of recyclable plastic waste manufactured every year is being recycled as intended, according to the figures compiled by The Co-op from the Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection survey.
Recycling groups say the problems lie with a lack of consumer knowledge about which packaging can be recycled, as well as the lack of provision of recycling services by local authorities.
Consumers were most diligent with recycling plastic bottles, with people recycling 7.5b out of 13b (57%) plastic bottles used by UK households each year. However, only about 30% of all plastic pots, tubs and trays were recycled.
The worst offender was plastic film products, which include carrier bags, pasta and rice bags, and the film on ready meals, only about 3% of which were believed to be recycled in 2015. This is largely due to the fact that just 80 Local Authorities around the country (20%) provide a recycling service for the collection of these materials.
The Co-op has launched an ambition to have 80% of all its packaging recyclable by 2020 and is calling on other retailers to follow its lead on developing new packaging and working with local authorities to improve recycling levels.
Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager at Co-op, said: “It is shocking that such a small percentage of plastic packaging is being recycled, especially materials that are already easy to recycle like plastic bottles. We are concerned that so much still goes to landfill every year. We need to stop thinking about this plastic as a waste and start to use it as a resource. What is needed is a co-ordinated response to the problem. This should start with retailers and major brands listening to recyclers and developing packaging that is better for recycling”.
He added: “Our long term ambition is for ALL packaging to be recycled where it can be, and we are making a bold start by setting a target that, by 2020, 80% of our products will have packaging that is easy to recycle.”
The Co-op says it has already re-designed and simplified plastic packaging to make it easier for consumers to recycle and is working with local authorities to share best practice. It is now calling on other retailers to follow suit by developing new packaging to improve recyclability.
The Co-op has also called for the introduction of clear labelling to differentiate items that recyclers can’t use to make it easier for consumers and recyclers.
At Equinox Recycling, we believe we have an important role to play in supporting local communities, as well as the environment. We actively get involved in local causes that are important to us and have recently extended our support to Marden Russets Hockey Club.
Although our main depot is based in Tonbridge, Marden is where our humble journey began – and is still home to our head office today – so we are really pleased to be supporting a club which offers opportunities for both personal development and teamwork within the local community.
Marden Russets is a village-based club, offering hockey to a wide range of ages and abilities. From October through to March, they field 5 men’s teams, 2 ladies’ teams and a vibrant junior section which educates children across age groups ranging from U8 to U16, with regular competitions from U12 upwards.
Equinox Recycling has donated an 1100ltr wheelie bin to Marden Russets for use at the club’s astroturf pitch and clubhouse throughout the 2016/17 season.
LATEST NEWS FOR MARDEN RUSSETS
Russets’ senior teams continue to have a good season on the pitch, with the Men’s 1st XI and Ladies’ 2nd XI both leading their respective divisions, and the other teams clear of relegation danger.
On Saturday 19th November, the Men’s 1st XI comfortably swept aside Canterbury’s 4s to retain their 4 point lead – next week’s game at their nearest rivals, Burnt Ash, promises to be a cracker.
The Men’s 2nd XI were awarded a 5-0 walkover, as Ashford belatedly conceded the game, whilst the 4th XI were frozen off – a frustration for Paul Hamlyn & the team captains, as this was the best availability we’d had all season.
With both clubs’ 2nd XIs having no fixture, the 3rd XI’s local derby with Sutton Valence 3s saw two very strong sides battle out a 2-2 draw, Russets equalising late on from a penalty corner.
The Ladies’ 1st XI returned to winning ways, with a narrow victory over Sevenoaks, and the 2nd XI suffered their first defeat of the season at Burnt Ash – hopefully there’s not a pattern there!
We wish Marden Russets Hockey Club all the best for the 2016/17 season.
Ashford Borough Council is cracking down on contaminated waste and has warned residents that recycling bins will not be collected if incorrect items are placed inside.
A similar crackdown last year saw residents make significant improvements to their recycling habits, but standards have reportedly slipped and a substantial number of waste loads are being rejected due to contaminated waste.
A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council said: “Once again we are cracking down on contamination by encouraging residents to recycle smart to ensure their bins are collected. We are working closely with Biffa to ensure that the recycling collected is of the highest quality, but we need our residents to help us achieve this. Biffa staff will now be checking what is being placed in recycling bins to try and ensure that the loads collected are clean and can be recycled.”
This latest crackdown will see waste collection operatives on the lookout for items incorrectly placed in recycling bins such as carrier bags, dark plastic food trays, sanitary waste and garden items. If they find an unrecyclable item in a bin, then the crew will not collect it for that week and residents will be advised to take their waste to the KCC Household Waste Recycling Centre for disposal instead.
A single unrecyclable item can potentially contaminate a whole load, which could represent as many as 500 households that have carefully separated the right materials for recycling.
Every waste load rejected at the recycling plant costs both Ashford Borough Council, as waste contractors, and Kent County Council, as waste disposal. The cost for every truck load of waste rejected at the recycling plant is £14,000.
Cllr Clair Bell, Portfolio Holder for Public Interaction and Borough Presentation said: “We do appreciate that understanding which plastics are recyclable can be confusing. However, earlier this year we sent out a leaflet with top tips on recycling so it’s certainly worth residents referring to their copy.”
She added: “New EU regulations on what can and cannot be recycled mean we have been encouraging everyone to ‘recycle smart’ to reduce the amount of contamination found in our waste loads. Our Biffa crew have always checked the quality of recycling materials they are collecting, but due to recent loads being rejected at the recycling plant, now we are having to be stricter.”
The main items collection crews will be looking for are sanitary waste (nappies, sanitary towels, tampons, wipes), plastic carrier bags, black sacks and soft plastics like crisp packets and sweet wrappers.
Any residents who are unsure whether a particular item can be recycled are being urged to use their ‘Wheel of waste’ tool or visit the Ashford Borough Council website www.ashford.gov.uk/waste.
Tunbridge Wells (North Farm) Household Waste Recycling Centre remains closed after a fire broke out in its bulky waste bay last week.
Gigantic flames ripped through the building on the morning of 22nd October, where three fire engines battled to put out a 200 square metre area of burning carpets and mattresses. Kent Fire and Rescue Service used positive pressure ventilation fans and a mechanical digger to create a break and prevent further spread.
Due to towering plumes of thick dark smoke, Dowding Way was closed to traffic for several hours and pedestrian access was reduced, while nearby residents and businesses were advised to keep windows and doors shut.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service said the fire had started because of spontaneous combustion and strongly ruled out any suggestion the fire had been started by a cigarette, as some had speculated on social media.
KCC added: “There is no smoking permitted within the public areas. Smoking is permitted within a designated area by the staff welfare facilities away from the Transfer Station and the Household Waste Recycling Centre. There is no suggestion, nor evidence, that operatives smoke outside of this designated area.”
Firefighters were able to get the inferno under control just after 3pm but the household waste recycling centre remains closed while Kent County Council undertakes structural surveys to establish the extent of the fire damage.
A spokesman for Kent County Council said: “A full structural survey is being carried out. If the survey is good our aim is to take remedial actions to make the site and operation safe. This will allow for a partial re-opening, but timescales are not known at the moment.”
Members of the public are being advised to use Sevenoaks HWRC in the meantime.
The North Farm facility is also used as a transfer station by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council waste collection vehicles, and contingency arrangements have been made while the surveys take place.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.