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Call to end 'disjointed' local authority collections regime

Local authorities operating ‘disjointed’ recycling regimes are said to be costing the UK £1.7bn in lost material and reuse value each year.

A new report from the Circular Economy Task Force, Wasted Opportunities: Smarter Systems for Resource Recovery, says the Government should tackle the way recycling is organised in the country as the present system “is not working”.

The report, written by Green Alliance, points out that a plastic bottle discarded at home is treated differently across the UK’s 376 waste collection authorities.

“The UK’s current system makes this difficult: we collect just 30% of plastic packaging for recycling, two-thirds of which is exported for reprocessing overseas. For waste electronics, just 2% is reused, even though 23% is suitable for reuse.”

It says businesses want to use recycled materials and reprocessors want to build the infrastructure to provide recycled material.

Dustin Benton

Report author Dustin Benton, left, said: “Local authorities spend more on waste management than housing or planning. Valuable raw materials are lost while businesses are frustrated by a lack of usable recycled materials.

“The system both stymies demand for recycled materials and prevents businesses investing.

“The problem is structural. The government could easily turn this around by reforming the system to help businesses get the UK moving toward a circular economy.”

Reorganisation could:

  • capture £500m more from waste electronics by increasing reuse and quality recycling
  • support up to 40 new UK plastics recyclers
  • unlock £1.2bn in private sector investment in anaerobic digestion

The task force was set up via the UK’s Resource Security Action Plan sponsored by Defra and BIS, and is composed of leading businesses, including BASF, Boots, Interface, Kyocera Document Solutions, Unilever, Veolia, Viridor, and WRAP. It is convened by Green Alliance.

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