UK loses £650 million a year from failing to recycle

October 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm

The UK is throwing away a vast amount of rubbish that could be recycled, wasting hundreds of millions of pounds each year as a result.

In a report from Friends of the Earth entitled ‘Gone to Waste: The Valuable Resources that European Countries Bury and Burn’, the charity revealed that 24 million tonnes of recyclable products are being sent to landfill or being incinerated each year. If these products were sold, £650 million could be made each year.

Recycling these products would also reduce CO2 emissions by 19 million tonnes, by eliminating the need for the new products being made in the first place. It would also increase jobs in the green sector and help to reduce the reliance on imports.

The report looked into the EU as a whole, and found that a staggering €5 billion was being wasted every year due to the failure to recycle more.

Many materials are lucrative when recycled. A tonne of aluminium can be sold for around £450. The UK is wasting more on failing to recycle textiles and plastics, which can sell for £175 and £90 a tonne respectively, than any other country in Europe.

Dr Michael Warhurst from Friends of the Earth said that the low recycling rate in the UK is “economic madness,” adding that “it’s time we recognised the real value of the materials we throw away every day.”

Friends of the Earth is now calling for a ban on sending recyclable materials to landfill, as well as preventing the construction of more incinerators.

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London worst for sending waste to landfill

October 23, 2009 at 4:22 pm

London has one of the highest rates of sending rubbish to landfill for any major city in Europe. More than half of the waste in London goes straight to landfill. It has also been revealed that Londoners throw away 520kg of waste a year, which is the fifth-highest rate of all the major cities on the continent.

In stark comparison, residents of Copenhagen only throw away 420kg per year, about 20% less. And on top of this, only a remarkable 1% goes to landfill.

The study was carried out by French group Suez Environnement, which studied the waste habits of 24 capital cities across the continent.

About 2.2 million tonnes is thrown away by London residents each year, of which 52% goes to landfill, or 270kg per household. Only 22% of rubbish is recycled, and the rest is incinerated.

These figures come despite the rising costs of sending waste to landfill. The government is keen to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, and as a result is increasing taxes on waste. In 2010-11, authorities in London will be forced to pay £48 per tonne of rubbish that goes to landfill, providing a strong incentive to increase recycling.

The study showed that there was also a stark difference in the frequency of rubbish collections across the continent. Londoners can only expect to get their rubbish picked up once a week, compared to once a day in Paris. In Bucharest, the figure is even more impressive, with collections twice a day during the summer months.

One of the reasons that London’s figures are so poor is because a lot of other countries incinerate more of their waste which is then used to create electricity and prevent the production of methane, a process which the UK hasn’t yet caught on to.

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New intiative aimed at foil and aerosols

October 15, 2009 at 10:56 am

Many of us are unsure about recycling everyday items such as foil and aerosols. Figures produced by Alupro, (the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation), show that 26,000 tonnes of foil are used in the UK for packaging and wrapping, in addition to 29,500 tonnes of aluminium and steel aerosols, each year.

Although around two out of three local authorities provide recycling facilities for aerosols and foil the message is clearly not understood by the general public. Only 39% of people realise that they can recycle aerosols and only 59% think that clean foil can be recycled. An encouraging 84% of households said they would recycle aerosols if they were able to and 85% said the same for foil.

Last month, Alupro launched a campaign to get the message across to householders and to encourage the remaining councils involved in offering the facility to recycle these materials. The campaign is being funded by giant Unilever, the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association and the less familiar Coppice Alupack, Nicholl Food Packaging and Jena, all of whom are foil manufacturers.

Alupro is a not-for-profit organisation which is responsible for ensuring that targets for recycling packaging waste are met. Rick Hindley, executive director of Alupro, said that it has never been easier for local authorities and waste management companies to “handle the material effectively” but stressed that only empty aerosols with lids removed could be recycled and that any foil put out for recycling must be clean.

Some would of course argue that we should avoid buying aerosols in the first place, since they are environmentally costly to produce and the gases used can cause harm to the environment but, if you have no choice, then make sure that you find out whether you can recycle the empty containers in your area.

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Corus resumes recycling, town rejoices

October 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Formed from the merger of British Steel and Dutch manufacturer, Koninklijke Hoogovens, in 1999, Corus Group is one of the largest producers of worked steel in the world. The firm fared badly throughout the credit crunch, cutting jobs up and down the country, and losing a key mill in the North West.

Since then, the Indian-owned company has taken steps to reinitiate dead schemes. The revival of the Corus CanRoute recycling campaign, for example, is testament to the firm’s recovery from the global recession. After a hiatus of almost a year, CanRoute is a partnership between the steel giant and two recycling plants in Pontypool, Wales, and Workington in Cumbria.

The sites will be rebranded in corporate colours, becoming Corus Approved Steel Packaging Recycling (CASPR) centres – a mouthful, to say the least.

Corus has yet to reveal how much it will pay for used cans, but the responsibilities of CASPR facilities have been made plain. Workington and Pontypool will collect and bail steel for Corus, before shipping it off to one of its UK plants. The sites can also store excess material, should the need arise.

Prior to the announcement, officials had issued an open challenge to steel hoarders, urging them to contact Corus: “We are starting to buy scrap again, including packaging. Any company collecting cans should look at getting in touch with us."

The firm is proud of its commitment to the environment, and claims to be the largest recycler of steel products in the UK. Suppliers were vocal in their relief; Corus had been sorely missed by the British and European recycling industry.

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Trial of reward based recycling continues

October 1, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Following the announcement of a similar scheme in Windsor and Maidenhead, Halton Borough Council has decided to trial a reward-based recycling scheme. After half the residents in Windsor and Maidenhead signed up for the trial – earning themselves on average £20 in Marks and Spencer vouchers – Halton has decided to give the idea, which was recently endorsed by a report from Harvard University, a go.

The council has clearly decided that ‘stick’ methods such as bin police surveillance has angered residents instead of getting them to reduce the amount of household waste ending up in landfill sites. Using the ‘carrot’ approach, residents will be paid for every kilogram of recyclable waste they put in the correct bin. To avoid providing an incentive to raid neighbours’ bins for recyclables, Halton Borough Council will place a cap of £130 on annual earnings per household.

The decision to undertake this trial may have been influenced by the increasing pressure on local authorities to get residents to separate their recyclable and non-recyclable waste. Recent statistics have shown that last year alone a huge 54% of household waste in the Borough went to landfill compared to just 1% in Germany. One factor for this imbalance is that there is a landfill ban for household waste in Germany, one of several countries to have brought in this measure. Britain is expected to follow suit in about 2011 after a planned public consultation in early 2010.

As well as rewarding residents for separating their waste, the council is likely to be spared the job of weighing it as it is intended that microchips will be installed in the bins. It seems likely that, should these reward-based trials prove successful, they will become part of a wider national scheme to help promote a sustainable UK society by raising awareness through education.

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