UK government’s plan for a ‘National Bin Service’ with SIX types of collection is unworkable ‘madness’, councils warn
- Government is set to reveal details of new waste collection system in England
- Changes could see councils ordered to arrange six types of collection
- Council leaders said the changes could backfire and have called them ‘madness’
The UK government’s plans to introduce consistent waste collection policies across England could prove unworkable, councils have warned.
The details of major government reforms to waste collection in England are expected to be confirmed later this week, according to waste management sources.
They are expected to make all councils collect food and garden waste, as well as metal, plastic, paper and cardboard.
Local authorities will be required to collect the recyclable waste streams separately unless it is not technically or economically practicable.
This could mean in some cases an increase in the number of bins households are expected to use for their recycling.
The UK government’s plans to introduce consistent waste collection policies across England could prove unworkable, councils have warned
Businesses, schools and offices will also be expected to recycle dry materials and where feasible separate food waste.
Government reveals plans for weekly food waste collections across England from 2023 – READ MORE
Every household in England will receive separate, weekly food waste collections from 2023, the government has announced
The government said standardisation will increase recycling rates and simplify waste management.
But council leaders criticised the proposed changes.
Peter Fleming, the Conservative leader of Sevenoaks District Council in Kent, said the reforms would mean more bin lorries on the roads and do nothing to encourage household waste reduction through behavioural change.
‘The idea that standardisation – a national bin service – is the way forward makes absolutely no sense,’ he told the BBC.
Waste management is largely a devolved matter in the UK, with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland setting their own policies.
At the moment, councils in England have discretion over how and when waste is collected from households and businesses.
But last year, the government passed a new law that required a consistent set of recyclable waste materials to be collected separately from all households and businesses.
The Environment Act, which became law in 2021, also requires that food waste collection must take place at least once a week.
The government also wants councils to collect garden waste for free, but give them the right to charge for this beyond the basic service.
Progress on recycling across the UK has shown little progress in recent years, with the rate in England remaining around the 45 per cent mark since 2015.
The government said standardisation will increase recycling rates and simplify waste management
The UK government has committed to meet a 65 per cent municipal recycling rate by 2035.
In 2021, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ran a public consultation on the best way to use its waste collection powers under the Environment Act.
The plans are expected to be announced on Friday, according to waste management industry sources.
The proposals in the consultation would cost more than £465m per year for the first seven years of implementation, according to research by the District Councils’ Network, a lobby group, who said they wanted the government to make good their pledge they would help fund the changes.
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey will specify the types of materials to be collected within each recyclable waste stream in the new regulations.
Charlotte Paine, who leads South Holland District Council’s operational services, said collecting recyclable materials separately was appealing, in principle.
‘But trying to say that has to be done in a particular way just will not work given the complexities of different areas,’ she told the BBC.
‘Much depends on where your waste goes, your local recycling facility, and how well they can deal with that. That’s where this consistency is going to fall down.’
A Defra spokesperson said the reforms to waste management would ‘make recycling easier and ensure that there is a comprehensive, consistent service across England’.
‘This will help increase recycled material in the products we buy and boost a growing UK recycling industry,’ the spokesperson said. ‘We have held a public consultation on the proposed changes and will announce further details shortly.’
HOW MUCH RECYCLING ENDS UP IN LANDFILL?
Every day, millions of us drop a plastic bottle or cardboard container into the recycling bin – and we feel we’re doing our bit for the environment.
But what we may not realise is that most plastic never gets recycled at all, often ending up in landfill or incineration depots instead.
Of 30 billion plastic bottles used by UK households each year, only 57 per cent are currently recycled, with half going to landfill, half go to waste.
Most plastic never gets recycled at all, often ending up in landfill or incineration depots instead. Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter
Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter.
This is largely due to plastic wrapping around bottles that are non-recyclable.
Every year, the UK throws away 2.5 billion ‘paper’ cups, amounting to 5,000 cups a minute.
Shockingly, less than 0.4 per cent of these are recycled.
Most cups are made from cardboard with a thin layer of plastic.
This has previously posed issues with recycling but can now be removed.
Five specialist recycling plants in the UK have the capacity to recycle all the cups used on our high-streets.
Ensuring the paper cups end up in these plants and are not discarded incorrectly is one of the biggest issues facing the recycling of the paper vessels.
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