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Lack of carton recycling infrastructure the problem

Recently highlighted as being a hard-to-recycle item in the Green Alliance report A Zero WasteUK, Tetra Pak says the issue in the UK is not one of recyclability but collection infrastructure.

While the UK rate for carton recycling is about 3%, in Germany it is about 65%.

Tetra Pak UK & Ireland environment manager Richard Hands explained the huge gap is because Germany started to recycle a lot earlier than the UK, so that it is now the default option. And it uses the Green Dot system, whereby a fee, paid by the packer filler, is placed on all packaging. The money collected goes toward the collection and reprocessing of the material, through a national system.

We dont have that national system, but have over 400 local authorities doing their own thing, Hands said.

Green dot fees vary from country to country. In Germany they have a high green dot fee. They spend billions on recycling.

With the UK spending considerably less, Hands added, You get what you pay for.

He welcomed many of the ideas in the report, such as the pay-as-you-throw system as being quite constructive. And said the introduction of such a scheme in Ireland had a considerable impact on carton recycling rates now at about 15%, from around the UK rate of 3%. But Ireland also uses the Green Dot scheme and has higher landfill costs, skewing action towards recycling.

According to Hands, carton recycling is not a priority for local authorities, who are focused more on heavy materials that make up more of the waste stream.

But the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) in the UK hopes to change this, recently announcing the launch of a £1.2 million national recycling fund, available from January, to help boost the UKs carton recycling rate.

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