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Government proposes higher recycling targets

Higher recycling targets for household waste and a more integrated approach to waste management were proposed by the Government, as it launched a major public consultation on its strategy for waste this week.

Increased recycling and composting targets for household waste went up “significantly” from 30% to 40% by 2010, and 33% to 45% by 2015. The Government wants to achieve 50% household recycling and composting by 2020.

Launching the 12-week waste strategy consultation, Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said the UK was on track to hit its target of recycling 25% of its household waste this year. But he added: “We are still way out of kilter and we still need to do a lot more.”

Another area the consultation addresses is the integration of waste streams and the Government’s policies. Bradshaw said the Government was looking to try to integrate municipal waste and commercial and industrial waste much more - a point that came out clearly in the Government’s recent waste strategy review.

Bradshaw did praise the “positive progress” made, highlighting the fact that recycling and composting rates had doubled since 2000 and nearly 50% of packaging waste is now being recycled.

He said more effort was needed to produce less waste in the first instance, and that the waste hierarchy remained the same – placing reduction, re-use and recycling at the top. Bradshaw emphasised the need to “view waste as a resource” and move toward a “recycling culture”.

On the current system of weight-based targets, Bradshaw conceded that there was currently a disincentive to collect lighter materials such as plastic. And that the current weight-based system would be looked at in this review, “so we encourage recycling of all materials”.

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