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Recycling's green contribution questioned - COMMENT UPDATE

In the run up to the release of the Waste Strategy the Environment Agency (EA) chief executive Barbara Young has said: recycling does not really contribute much to tackling climate change. 

The comments came as part of a call to people who said recycling was their main contribution to tackling climate change to raise the stakes.

The comments contradict findings of a 2006 Waste & Resources Action Programme report that found UK recycling saved 10 to 15 million tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to taking 3.5 million cars of the road.

Youngs comments referred to an EA commissioned poll on climate change, which found that while 41% of the public have altered their behaviour, 59% still do nothing to tackle climate change.

As well as challenging the beneficial role of recycling Young added: We must be relentless in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions because there still exists a level of apathy in some parts of the community.

There are a range of simple measures that people can take, which have a real impact on their carbon emissions such as ensuring their appliances are not left on standby, riding a bike instead of driving and drying washing outdoors.

Many people might already be taking these actions alongside recycling, but if youre not then now is the time to start.

In response to the comments environmental specialists Sauce Consultancy spokesman John Twitchen said: I am concerned that the public are being given a message that recycling doesnt help reduce carbon emissions.
"People can still do more [to help the environment] but they need all the positive reinforcement they can get and the EAs comments in the context they were given were not as helpful as they might have been.

To contribute to the EAs national survey visit:

My neighbour now fills 3 big 120 litre recycling bins each week and he is very prode of his contribution to combatting global warming as he knows that recycling is a more sustainable lifestyle.He is now free to consume and does not have to worry about global warming. He even buys carbon off sets so he can take as many holiday flights as he likes and still be sustainable and green. People are realy starting to care about the environment.
Posted by Get Real

28/05/07: I'm sorry, but as a very confused, and hence hard to engage member of the public (what you don't understand, or believe, makes persuasion a lot harder. And two funded quangos knocking spots off each other is unlikely to unmuddy these waters) all I need is some simple guidance on what represents good enviROI (benefit to my kids' future) with, preferably at the same time, a decent financial ROI as a taxpayer. I'd have to say that, as an alternative to doing nothing, recycling seems a no-brainer. What it's costing is a much bigger issue. So it may be legitimately asked whether a slavish devotion to meeting targets is the best way other than, as this weekend's Sunday Express seems to have raised, generating massive financial rewards for those who benefit by spending public money to boost their bonuses. Considering the PR climate and sums committed on advertising, one would blooming well expect rates to go up, so using my money to make me work for free to drive up fat cat incentive schemes seems... quaint, at best. It's not a matter of the EA claim saying recycling does not help mitigate climate change: as it patently can do - but simply how much of a positive it represents as a total of our consumer behaviours. And what its relative value therefore is. Especially when it comes to huge public comms budgets. It therefore seems possible that these vast sums may not have been best directed to achieve a worthwhile envROI. And I, for one, find questioning THAT more than help

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