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How do we get up to speed on recycling?

It’s the time of year when all of us look back and forward as we assess our individual worlds - and MRW is no exception. At the end of 2014, we are doing so by presenting two major features, one on recycling during the past 10 years and another on where the UK will be in another 10.

The retrospective element is in the current issue, where those involved in the launch of the successful ‘Recycling Now’ campaign in 2004 re-live how it all came about. The UK is now in a very different place but it is fascinating to read how they did it.

This year, though, the household recycling rate in England flatlined and the industry is facing up to that challenge because it will profoundly affect the UK’s overall rate. Recycling in the next 10 years was the theme of a round table I chaired this week. The quality of the debate and the range of opinions from leading figures were excellent, and you will be able to share in that event in our first issue of 2015.

The most interesting section concerned observations that, by majoring on general ‘blunt’ recycling targets, less attention is given to, for example, recyclate quality or the merits of using products and packaging that may be non-recyclable but comprise more resource-efficient materials. Based on that, shouldn’t more low-quality materials go to energy recovery instead, it is argued.

On the other hand, if the emphasis and messaging around recycling changes, what effect might that have on consumers’ approach to being more careful about their ‘waste’? Should the drivers of policy affecting the resource management sector be economic, social or political - or a combination of them all? These are the big questions that will continue to be debated in future issues of MRW. Our thanks go to FCC Environment for making the whole package possible.

Coincidentally, the discussion took place as the European Commission confirmed its expected about-turn on the circular economy proposals announced in the summer by the then environment commissioner Janez Potocnik. We will be following progress in 2015.

Whatever the future brings, all of us at MRW wish everyone in our industry a successful, prosperous and safe 2015.

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