Wales beats rest of UK for recycling rates

July 26, 2012 at 10:06 am

The recycling and reusing of waste is something that the whole of the UK needs to take very seriously now that the EU waste framework directive is demanding that the UK has to recycle or reuse 50% of its waste by 2020.

At the moment Wales is leading the field after recent figures showed that the average amount of recycling per household is 48% for the 2011/12 financial year.

The figures were revealed in a report called the Local Authority Municipal Waste Management, January-March 2012, which showed that the recycling rates just keep on going up.

These figures are 4% up on the previous year, and at this rate the country will have no problem hitting the EU targets. Indeed, Wales’ aim is to reach a 52% recycling rate in 2012/13.

England is currently lagging behind on 40%, and each year the increase in the amount of recycling gets smaller, meaning it may become a real challenge to reach its EU targets.

The biggest increases in the amount of waste being recycled or reused were seen in the Vale of Glamorgan and Conwy, with each seeing rises of 10%.

By 2050 the government wants to recycle or reuse all of the country’s waste, and this is its ambitious Towards Zero Waste strategy. As part of this strategy it is aiming to increase recycling rates to 70% by 2025.

Wales is the only country to introduce required targets for municipal waste. In addition, every authority in the country currently operates green and food waste collections separately.

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PET bottle recycling up over 50% in Europe

July 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Positive figures emerged from Europe recently with the news that recycling levels for PET bottles across the EU last year were up 9.4% to 1.59 million tonnes compared to the previous year.

The figures were released by Petcore (PET Containers Recycling Europe) and EuPR (the European Plastics Recyclers), which are the European recycling trade bodies, and the collection of PET bottles in Europe is now an impressive 51%.

The figures were revealed in a study titled the ‘Post Consumer PET recycling in Europe 2011 and Prospects to 2016’. The study also stated that only three countries in the EU had less than 22.5% recycling rate, which is the target set by the Packaging Waste Directive.

Indeed, over a third of the countries were boasting collection rates of over 70%.

Despite the increasing amount of recycling of PET bottles, there is still more that needs to be done. The total capacity for recycling this material is thought to be 1.9 million tonnes, so there is still a lot more potential. Indeed, Casper van den Dungen, the chair of the EuPR PET Working Group, said that currently we are only using 77% of the total capacity of the recycle plants.

The chairman of Petcore, Roberto Bertaggia, said that he was delighted that the recycling rate had broken through the 50% barrier, and that a total of 140 kilotonnes extra was collected in 2011 compared to the previous year, which amounts to 5.6 billion bottles. He also pledged to “continue to develop and promote PET’s recyclability”.

These positive figures will hopefully spur both the public and the government in the UK to improve the country’s PET recycling rates even further.

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£30bn of unused clothing stored in our wardrobes

July 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

There are currently 1.7 billion items of old clothing stored away in the UK’s wardrobes which have not been used for a year or longer, according to new figures from WRAP, the waste reduction body.

The average home has £4,000 of clothes in its wardrobes, but nearly a third of these are not worn for a year or longer with the main reason being that they no longer fit. All of these clothes are worth a combined total of £30 billion.

WRAP discovered the figures after carrying out research for its study called ‘Valuing Our Clothes’, which suggests that by making more use of our old clothes we can reduce waste, reduce the use of valuable resources and even benefit financially.

The report states that as much as a third of clothing goes to landfill when it is not being used. However, alternatives to this include giving them to charities or local authorities, or even just giving them to friends or exchanging them so that they can then be reused or recycled.

Another alternative is to sell your old clothes which could have financial benefits as well, which could be tempting in these times of austerity.

By using clothes for longer, the report also suggests that we could reduce the use of resources such as carbon, water and waste which could go down 20% to 30% if we use clothes for just nine months longer than normal, and this could potentially save £5 billion in resources.

WRAP also suggests a business model whereby retailers purchase their own clothes back from the consumers and resell them. Over half of people surveyed said they would be happy to do this, and two thirds said they would be open to buying returned clothes.

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