Government review to boost recycling and maximise revenues

June 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm

The waste problem in England is going to be addressed by a new review that the government has launched. Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, announced the government’s decision to launch the review at the Futuresource conference in London.

The government plans to review every aspect of waste strategy in the UK. It has been described as a “no-holds-barred look at every aspect of waste policy”.

The review will cover many areas. Overall, the aim is to reduce the amount of waste produced in Britain, and it will look into different ways to accomplish this.

Ideas that will be examined include starting up the practice of collecting only standard waste one week and only recyclable waste the next week, fines for leaving the wrong kind of rubbish for collection, a ban on all food waste from landfill sites and the introduction of shopping vouchers for the households who recycle the most. This has already been introduced in a trial run and has so far proved to be successful.

Spelman also said that she wanted to see the construction of more locations where recyclable rubbish can be processed, rather than simply sending it all abroad.

Spelman was critical of Labour’s waste policies when in opposition, and now she is seeking to implement far tougher plans. One of the areas she highlighted was the packaging for children’s toys. She said that her children are “constantly bringing items home in thick packaging, polystyrene and cardboard, and it’s really all about making the product attractive to buy rather than packaging it safely”.

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No ‘pay as you throw’ charge, say councils

June 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm

A ‘pay as you throw’ (PAYT) recycling scheme, first pioneered by the Labour Party, has been thrown out by the communities secretary, Eric Pickles. The proposal, which would have seen householders charged or rewarded according to the volume of waste they throw away each week, was given the cold shoulder by councils.

PAYT plans are a prosaic part of politics, appearing every few years in slightly different packaging. The scheme is supposed to help the UK achieve waste management targets outlined by the EU, but critics are worried that PAYT plans could alienate householders, encouraging them to burn excess waste to avoid a ‘bin tax’.

In effect, PAYT could actually make England’s carbon footprint larger, upsetting the lawmakers in Brussels. Mr Pickles claims that the coalition government will now focus on rewarding diligent recyclers, instead of employing ‘bin police’ to monitor household waste. Incentive programs have been operating in Berkshire for a number of years.

PAYT schemes have never been popular amongst householders – in March, councils were accused of ‘waste surveillance’ by the Big Brother Watch Group, a privacy watchdog, after microchips were installed in 2.6m wheelie bins. Councillors claimed that the chips were used to identify a lost bin, however, and were unrelated to PAYT or ‘chip and bin’ schemes.

Whilst only an incentive scheme is likely to gain widespread support in the UK, continental PAYT programs are successful and largely unopposed by the public, according to a Labour advisor. Gordon Brown’s government used figures from ‘other countries’ to create a PAYT blueprint for Britain, which could indicate that the EU has become a poster child for recycling schemes.

If the new PM’s penchant for ‘borrowing’ ideas from other countries (Mr. Cameron has looked to Sweden and Canada for budget-slashing techniques in recent months) is as deeply engrained as it appears, European waste schemes could make a return to Britain’s shores in the very near future.

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Coca-Cola joins forces with RecycleBank

June 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Drinks giant, Coca-Cola, has announced that it has become a top-tier sponsor for RecycleBank in the UK. This partnership has been forged in an effort to increase Coca-Cola’s environmental credentials, and to provide RecycleBank members with more options for rewards.

The RecycleBank scheme is an American idea which has proved popular across the Atlantic. Coca-Cola is also a main sponsor of the scheme in the US. The idea is that people are rewarded for the amount of products that they send for recycling.

A trial was recently launched in the UK in Windsor and Maidenhead, where 60,000 households are currently taking part. They have all been provided with wheelie bins that have been ID tagged. The amount of recycling that they produce is then weighed, and they are rewarded with points corresponding to how much they have managed to recycle.

The points can then be exchanged for rewards in various places. Now added to the list of rewards are money-off vouchers for Coca-Cola products, including £1 off a number of Coca-Cola drinks.

The citizenship manager at Coca-Cola, Liz Lowe, said that the company was “delighted” to partner up with RecycleBank in the UK. She added that “one of the most important ways in which we can get more recycled material to put back into our packaging is to encourage consumers to recycle.”

It is unknown yet just how successful RecycleBank will be in the UK, although its success in the United States looks promising. If it works out it could spread to other areas and will hopefully encourage more people to recycle across the country.

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