Is £1billion worth of recycled waste enough?

April 24, 2009 at 4:27 pm

As the banking world hangs its head in shame at billions of pounds worth of losses, the UK’s recycling world can pat itself on the back. This year sees the UK proudly boasting a total of over £1 billion worth of recycling waste since 2003. Add up all the paper, the glass, the metal and the plastic that that we’ve prevented from going to landfills this decade, and it comes to £1.1 billion. It’s even more if you take into account the costs saved on landfill charges too.

According to the green website Recycle Now, households in the UK have seen at 30% growth in their daily recycled waste, which is roughly double the amount recycled in 2003. If you want even more statistics, then, in terms of weight, we’re looking at around 34 million tonnes of recycled waste over the last five years. It’s not just been good for the planet though. The boom in the UK’s recycling industry had led to the creation of thousands of new jobs in this sector; from collectors to crushers. It’s an industry that is providing the UK’s currently hard-pressed economy with a staggering £5.5 billion per year.

But could we be doing more? Is this enough? According to famous eco-designer Oliver Heath, who has pioneered some of the UK’s most innovative and environmental ideas for homes, there is always more we can do to push us towards a 100% recycling nation. At the moment we save nearly two-thirds of waste from landfill, but countries such as Holland, Germany and Belgium are still quite some way ahead.

Being in a deep recession it’s natural for prices all over the board to drop. The price of recyclable waste has not been an exception. There are some worries coming from environmental groups that we might start going into reverse, but the general consensus is that, with stats like 30 millions tonnes of CO2 emissions being prevented since 2003, we are certainly on the right road here in the UK.

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Call for landfill tax to be returned to councils

April 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm

As of April 1st, the cost to councils of sending waste to landfill sites is to increase by £8 a tonne, raising the figure from £32 to £40. Calls are now being made both by the LGA (Local Government Association) and Friends of the Earth for the taxes to be paid back to councils in order for them to improve their recycling infrastructure.

The tax is likely to amount to £620 million in the financial year 2009/10, equivalent to around £30 per household. The chair of the LGA’s environment board has said that landfill tax is “quite literally costing councils the earth” and he is concerned that the costs will be passed on to the householder, by an increase of £70 in council tax.

He has said that it is incumbent upon the government to show in a “clear and transparent way” just how councils are reaping the benefit from the landfill tax paid. He feels that taking punitive measures against councils and householders who do not recycle sufficiently is not likely to improve recycling rates. Instead he would like to see landfill taxes being made available for councils to make recycling schemes even easier for householders to adopt.

Friends of the Earth have backed the LGA’s remarks and have said that they would also like to see a tax being imposed on councils who incinerate.

Council leaders are being urged to participate in the Landfill Tax campaign by writing to the appropriate minister outlining the effect on their council’s budget and services. For further details see the LGA website.

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RecycleBank scheme to be introduced

April 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead agreed at a meeting last month to be the first council to trial the RecycleBank initiative which has proved so popular in America. It will start in May and there are high hopes that it will prove to be as successful as it has been on the other side of the Atlantic.

Special radio frequency identifiers will be fitted to bins which will calculate the amount of recycling put out by each household and rewards will be given by means of discounts and tokens which can be redeemed at participating stores.

No details are available yet to indicate where householders will be able to use the vouchers in the UK but in America companies such as Coca Cola, Evian, Foot Locker, IKEA, and Starbucks are key players.

The Conservative party has been keen to see whether using incentives rather than punishing people for not recycling will help the UK’s efforts and shadow environment minister, Nick Herbert, has praised the “fresh and positive approach” taken by Windsor and Maidenhead.

When Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London last May he named RecycleBank in his environmental manifesto as a prime example of householders being rewarded for doing the right thing rather than being fined for doing the wrong thing. In the 500 American cities which have introduced the scheme, recycling rates have increased to as much as 40%. If it is successful in Windsor and Maidenhead it is hoped that the scheme will be introduced in other Conservative run councils throughout the UK.

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Tesco pilots all-in-one recycling system

April 3, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Leading supermarket chain Tesco this week unveiled an exciting new way to recycle at its Shettleston store in Glasgow. Many Tesco stores already have recycling bins, but the new facility is an "all-in-one" system which simplifies the process and saves time and space. Designed in Scandinavia, the cutting-edge TOMRA machine allows consumers to recycle several types of waste at the same time, as well as recognising, sorting and compacting materials at the point of collection.

Shettleston’s £150,000 machine accepts glass, steel, aluminium and various types of plastic. The machine’s internal laser scans the material, before it is sorted and compressed or granulated. Crushing the material means fewer collections are required, which in turn means less lorries rumbling on our roads. So TOMRA offers a double carbon-saving solution: reducing waste going to landfill and cutting down on the fossil fuel used in collections.

At the official opening of the facility on 4th March, Scotland’s Secretary for the Environment, Richard Lochhead, said he was "delighted to open this automated recycling centre and try out this new facility for myself." Mr Lochhead also praised Tesco’s commitment to recycling, which is shared by the Scottish Government, and felt that close collaboration between the public and private sectors was the best way to reduce environmental impact.

Louise Goodland, speaking on behalf of Tesco, explained that the TOMRA machine had been introduced due to consumer demand, stating that customers has asked Tesco to make recycling "easier, more fun and more convenient." And as an added incentive, Tesco is offering green Clubcard points to customers for the items they recycle using the machine.

The supermarket giant intends to roll out the idea to further stores if the Glasgow pilot is successful. Stores earmarked include Ayr, Alloa and South Queensferry.

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