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Comment: Time to make recycling the main event

Big events, be they sporting or entertainment, provide a great opportunity for pushing the recycling message.

At the Live8 concert held last Saturday the amount of rubbish that can accumulate at a one-day event was clearly shown with a heavy emphasis on food and drinks packaging.

Though the final amount has yet to be given, 150 tonnes had been collected by Sunday morning, with an expected 400 tonnes generated.

And judging by the amount of overflowing bins at the start of the event at 2pm this is no surprise.

While there were no recycling points at this event there were recycling plans for the G8 summit at Gleneagles this week, that included collection points for paper, cardboard, food waste, cans and mixed glass.

It would be interesting to see how much these points will be used and how much ends up in the general waste.

The two events reflect the sporadic nature that organisations have towards recycling and minimisation schemes - it is still not an integral part of the event.

With the Government's push towards sustainability this is likely to change in the future, particularly with events from the public sector.

A prime example of this is the successful London bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Now that the bid has been successfully won no doubt many of you will be drawing up plans to bid for the contract.

The plan is to host a zero-waste Games by avoiding landfill and using waste as a resource for recycling and re-use.

This will be achieved by minimising waste at source, maximising recycling and using waste materials as energy sources.

Every venue will have recycling facilities and there will be an education campaign for both staff and spectators targeting litter reduction and promote recycling. And a sustainable procurement policy will detail the sourcing of materials, services and merchandising.

Perhaps by the time we reach 2012 recycling and waste reduction initiatives will be more ingrained in the public and organisers' minds.

The impact of a new directive on the design of products could make people aware of environmental performance, though perhaps needs more teeth.

The Eco-Design for Energy Using Products Framework Directive has been designed to drive energy efficiency standards in household products.

But it does not introduce binding requirements, only defines conditions and criteria for setting requirements on environmentally relevant product characteristics such as energy or water consumption and waste generation.

Voluntary agreements usually mean few manufacturers get involved unless they see a business advantage to them.

The lack of producers getting involved in the early days of the eco-label is a prime example.

Is this the most effective way forward or should the legislation include binding requirements?

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