Brits failing to recycle enough at work

December 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Although we may well be responsible citizens when it comes to recycling at home, this good habit stops as soon as we get to work. This was the finding from a government commissioned survey carried out by Matters on behalf of the Centre for Information.

The survey found that we seem to have very different attitudes to recycling at home compared to at work, and it came up with many statistics to back this up.

Some of the most revealing findings were that:

  • over 40% of us recycle plastic at home and not at work
  • 33% of us don’t turn off electrical goods at the end of the day at work although we do at home
  • 21% of us throw away items at work that could be recycled
  • 21% of us print out emails unnecessarily

This is pretty shocking and begs the question as to why we can’t be bothered to recycle when at work. Perhaps it is the feeling that recycling is not our problem when we are in the office, or maybe we don’t have the financial incentive to be eco-minded at work because we are not saving our own money.

The results come after Defra recently launched a campaign urging small businesses to cut down on their waste and reduce their energy and water use, showing that saving energy can save money too.

Defra claims that businesses could save £6.4 billion through being more resource efficient and installing low-cost measures, and that doing so will also improve their image in the eyes of customers.

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Conservatives to give vouchers to reward recycling

December 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm

The shadow chancellor, George Osborne, has said that if the Conservative Party win next year’s election they will reward households that increase the amount of rubbish they recycle. Conservative-controlled Windsor and Maidenhead Council have already piloted the plan. In order to meet EU targets the UK must reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill sites from 1995 levels by 25% in 2010 and by 65% in 2020.

The scheme mirrors the Recycle Banks that operate in over 500 cities in the United States. This has reduced the amount of landfill tax that each city pays and some of the money saved is funnelled back to individual households. It is an American company, RecycleBank, which operates the reward scheme for the council. On average households will be rewarded with £130 of shopping vouchers per year.

Residents are issued with special roadside recycling bins. Each has a unique barcode that is scanned by specialist equipment on the truck. The recycle bin is weighed and the information is linked to the household address on the RecycleBank Rewards Account website.

In his speech to the Green Alliance Mr Osborne was keen to emphasise the Conservatives’ reward initiative. ‘Carrots work better than sticks’, he said. This was to contrast their policy with the Government’s plan for a rubbish bin tax. Although the Conservatives’ proposal has been broadly welcomed by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, the charity Waste Watch was more cautious. It acknowledged that the scheme should spur households on to recycle but was concerned that we should all be encouraged to produce less waste in the first place.

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A week of waste reduction campaigns

December 11, 2009 at 11:23 am

At the end of last month the UK joined nine other countries in the first annual European Week for Waste Reduction. This comes as the UK was criticised for failing to meet many of the European Union’s objectives for recycling and waste reduction.

2,151 national and regional campaigns took place. They promoted the various ways in which we as consumers can help to reduce the amount of rubbish that is dumped at landfill sites. The UK’s contribution was significant: 141 innovative campaigns were instigated by councils and waste management organisations.

Most of the initiatives were held in East Anglia, Wales and Scotland, and focussed on dealing with the waste produced by shoppers.

In Wales, 29 campaigns took place. These included swap events and initiatives encouraging the reduction of food waste. Reusable nappies and sustainable food purchasing were promoted, and the public were encouraged to refuse junk mail.

Owain Griffiths, head of Waste Awareness Wales, said: “The best way to ensure the least harm to our planet is to reduce the amount of rubbish we produce in the first place.” He suggested people be more selective about what they buy from the supermarket and that they choose products with no packaging.

An advertising campaign was also launched. It suggested that our unwillingness to recycle will negatively affect our children’s future. The advert depicts children struggling to recycle without their parents’ help.

In schools across Swansea swapping events were held. Pupils took in CDs, DVDs, games, books and toys to be recycled.

Scotland saw the initiation of 32 campaigns, and Belfast city council has planned a number of television and radio adverts.

In Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Peterborough buses promoting recycling travelled the streets.

In view of all these innovative schemes, it would appear that recycling is just one of many simple steps we can take to reduce the amount of waste that we generate.

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Recycling label scheme nears target

December 4, 2009 at 4:23 pm

The festive season is approaching, a time when cash registers ring the sound of purchased gifts and food to fill the cupboards. But does your overflowing yuletide rubbish bin make you wonder if you could recycle more? The answer could be on your leftover packaging.

A new on-pack recycling label scheme launched earlier this year by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), has received its fiftieth signatory, ensuring the labels will be displayed on at least 50,000 products.

The scheme, operated by a not-for-profit company called On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) Limited, has been embraced by many of the country’s major brand names and retailers.

After only seven months, BRC looks on course to achieve its first-year target of sixty signatories.

BRC hope the standardized labels will succeed where it’s thought previous designs could fall short, by providing clear information to the consumer about how widely recycled certain materials are in local areas. The Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) will monitor local recycling facilities to ensure products are labelled accurately.

The labels indicate three categories:

  • Widely recycled (65% or more of local authorities collect that packaging type in your area)
  • Check local recycling (15-65%)
  • Not currently recycled (less than 15%)

Concerns that previous labels had become potentially confusing for consumers has prompted worry that too much recyclable material is passing straight to landfill.

Chief Executive of WRAP, Liz Goodwin said, “Consumer confusion is a major barrier to the UK increasing its recycling rates,” adding that “the retail sector needs to collectively adopt this voluntary scheme to enable all of us to recycle more often."

Following a recent report from Friends of the Earth, featured on this website last month, revealing the staggering cost of Britain’s failure to recycle, this is a well-timed and encouraging step towards a greener approach.

Visit OPRL to sign up to the scheme or to see a list of existing members.

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