Suez has outlined a route for England to improve its recycling rate and help the UK reach 50% by 2020.
Suggestions from the waste company include mandatory weekly food collections, fortnightly residual collections, pay-as-you-throw schemes, stronger communications and the re-classification of some uses of incinerator bottom ash.
Researchers for the report, entitled At this rate…, suggest that, taken together, the measures could increase recycling rates by 12%. The most recent figures show England’s household waste recycling rate was 44.9% in the 12 months to June 2014.
Existing data was examined to draw out common themes among England’s best-performing local authorities, and the impact of societal, geographic and demographic factors on recycling was assessed.
The report, carried out by SLR Consulting, also found that only 42% of England’s waste is separated at source as recyclables, much lower than the best-performing EU countries.
But the report questioned increasing weight-based targets, which could be in the EU’s revised circular economy package this year, arguing that such a move could result in councils securing heavier materials such as green waste over more complex ones like flexible laminated packaging.
The highest recycling rates for councils with higher deprivation levels were comparable to more affluent areas if garden waste was excluded, the report also found.
Suez UK recycling and recovery chief executive David Palmer-Jones (pictured) said: “These actions and recommendations place the 50% target within reach. But the big question is whether the country’s policy-makers and waste managers can implement the necessary changes in the short time we have available before the 2020 deadline.”
SLR Consulting director Alban Forster said: “This report highlights how critically important it is now to identify pragmatic solutions to improving England’s recycling levels to 2020, as well as stimulate a broader debate around what should be next for European circular economy policy.”
The report is to be unveiled at the RWM exhibition, with presentations by Palmer-Jones, Forster and LARAC chief executive Lee Marshall.