Government launches consultation to improve business waste recycling

11 May 2021

The Government has set out plans to improve consistency in the collection and recycling of waste from businesses, households and other organisations.

The plans aim to make recycling easier with a clear list of materials that all local authorities and waste firms must collect from businesses and residential households.

The list of materials includes plastic, paper and card, glass, metal, and food waste, which the Government says will end the confusion for millions of homes and businesses having different collections in different areas.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said the plans will help businesses and others; “get rid of their rubbish faster, at no additional cost to them”.

“Our proposals will boost recycling rates and ensure that less rubbish is condemned to landfill”, Eustice added.

Progress on recycling has stalled across much of the UK in recent years and the Government looks set to fail EU commitments to recycle or reuse 50% or more of household waste by this year, with the exception of Wales which has recycling rates of over 54%.

The latest data, released by Defra, shows 36% of local authorities in England have reported a fall in their official recycling rate for 2019–20, with overall recycling rates for England up just 0.4% to 45.5% compared with the previous year.

The new proposals would raise recycling rates significantly but will also mean large-scale changes to collection services and sorting infrastructure for many local councils, which will increase the costs of service provision.

The Government says additional funding and support will be provided to councils for their recycling collections, partly through reforms of the packaging sector, including the new extended producer responsibility (EPR) and deposit return scheme (DRS), which will see firms covering the full net cost of managing their packaging waste. Defra said councils will be given time to renegotiate contracts where necessary and meet ambitions, as laid out in its Resources and Waste Strategy.

The measures outlined by the Government aim to recycle at least 65% of municipal waste by 2035, with a maximum of 10% being landfilled, and eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050

The consultation closes on 4 July 2021. Access to the survey is available here.