UK risks EU recycling fines

January 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm

There has recently been even more bad news announced to bring more misery to those of us feeling the pinch of the credit crunch as the New Year progresses. It looks like council tax rises could be on the horizon in response to possible EU fines imposed upon the UK for failing to meet its recycling targets.

According to a report that was recently released by The National Audit Office, the UK government has simply not done enough to reduce the amount of recyclable waste that manages to find a home in landfill sites across the country, which it had agreed to reduce by a quarter by 2010 and by a half by 2013. There is a lack of recycling facilities available to deal with the waste, despite the protestations from local councils that they want to recycle more and, as such, the UK government is badly failing the general public.

The possible fines will unfortunately be steep – £150 for every tonne of recyclable waste that reaches landfill. This means that the figures will run into the hundreds of millions, and the most likely way that we are going to pay for it is through council tax hikes.

One of the main problems facing the recycling effort is the fall in demand for recyclable materials in Asia, which is where many of the items were until recently sent. This means that more recyclable waste is staying in the country and there are not enough facilities to deal with it. So, not only are we going to have to pay for this mess, but people are surely going to wonder whether to bother to listen to the government in their bid to get us to recycle more if it is just going to end up in a landfill site along with the rest of our rubbish.

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Sunderland’s green vision to beat recession

January 23, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Chris Mullin, MP for Sunderland South, wants to see green jobs created in order to introduce vital employment to help beat the recession. The main area is to be in recycling, where building new plants would prevent the UK’s reliance on Asia, which currently purchases much of the UK’s recyclable goods. Mr Mullin wants to see the government put cash into environmental schemes in order to create a greener UK which would take responsibility for recycling goods itself. He is keen to see areas like Sunderland become home to these new developments, particularly in light of the recent job losses at Nissan.

These initiatives follow a similar vein to those suggested by Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg who, in December, called for several green goals to pave the way out of the recession. These included re-opening old railway lines, insulating schools, homes and hospitals and building zero-carbon social houses. President-Elect Barack Obama is making similar calls in the U.S, where plans are afoot to create 5 million green jobs in the clean energy sector, pioneering green technologies and the development of clean coal technology. On all sides of the globe, politicians, reeling from the state of the economy and the potential effects of climate change, are suggesting green jobs as one answer to the world’s problems. In Sunderland, Mr Mullin has watched as recyclable goods stack up in warehouses waiting until China and other Asian countries begin to increase their demand for this material. He wants to see the UK ensure a more stable future for itself and sees green initiatives in areas such as recycling and the greener vehicle industry as two key ways to make this happen.

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No hope for festive waste

January 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Millions of emaciated Christmas trees, a flock of rotten turkeys, and up to a billion Christmas cards are wending their way gradually towards landfill sites this January, as recycling campaigns all over the country come unstuck.

Planting a tree in your living room is perhaps one of the most unusual things a person can do and yet every year, Britons spend thousands of pounds on foliage and plump fir trees to lend a bit of festive cheer to their houses.

Unfortunately, by the time the New Year arrives in a haze of smoke and good cheer, the old tree has outstayed its welcome, and spends the days rotting by the roadside.

The volume of waste produced on Christmas Day alone hit record-breaking levels last December, and local councils – who have spent much of the past year trying to educate their communities about the ills of landfill sites – are now afraid that their carefully laid plans have been scuppered by thoughtless residents.

Wrap, the Waste and Resources Action Programme, has blamed toy manufacturers for the exponential rise in festive waste. Inadequate disposal instructions are a bane to environmental groups and few major toy companies have had the foresight to offer useful advice on their packaging.

Recycle Now campaigners have found that a large quantity of Brits are unable to identify readily recyclable materials, and these individuals also struggle to dispose of their waste in a sustainable manner.

Waste watchdogs have urged British families to think carefully before dumping recyclable materials in with the common trash. Wood and paper-based products such as cards, wrapping paper, and trees should be placed in your green bin or box, or transported manually to a recycling centre.

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Warehouse in York stores items meant for recycling

January 14, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Due to the current lack of demand for recyclable goods, the City of York council is stockpiling paper and card which local residents presumed were being recycled. The warehouse is being used until demand picks up once again but could also house other materials including scrap metal.

This summer has witnessed a crash in the market value of recyclable goods but the waste management company, Yorwaste, was keen to tell people that "there is no crisis."

China, which purchases much of the UK’s recyclable goods, has decreased its demand for materials in light of the recent economic downturn. However, councils are keen to stockpile materials rather than pay to put them in landfill and are convinced the market will pick up once again. The amount of waste set aside for recycling has significantly increased, meaning that in this current financial situation councils are seeing warehouses as a viable option until demand rises once again.

Other councils are following suit causing the Labour government to come in for a string of criticism, particularly as environment agencies are concerned about the health implications of storing unclean items for several weeks. To add to the concern, many local authorities simply do not know where materials end up, risking the credibility of local recycling initiatives.

Councils such as York are determined that warehouse storage is a temporary measure only. However, the Environment Agency has been compiling new guidelines for storing metal, plastic and paper, indicating that the problem is likely to remain for some time.

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