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WRAP unveils definitive list for household recycling

A definitive list of what materials can and cannot be accepted at the kerbside for recycling to cut householders’ confusion and reduce contamination has been published by WRAP.

The Recycling Guidelines, developed by WRAP with recyclers, local authorities and waste management companies, are intended to help householders in England, Scotland and Wales. They cover paper, card, cartons, metal, plastic and glass packaging, and food waste and indicate:

  • What items can be included in a collection and what should not
  • How the materials should be presented for recycling
  • Why certain items cannot be accepted or should be presented in a particular way

The guidelines can be incorporated into targeted and strategic communications, but at this stage there is no requirement on anyone to follow them.

They follow WRAP’s Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling for England report, published in September, which indicated that greater consistency in household collections by English councils could increase the recycling rate by seven percentage points by 2025, recover an extra 11 million tonnes of dry recyclable materials and food waste.

Lee Marshall, chief executive of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, said: “The fact that local authorities and reprocessors were able to work constructively to produce these guidelines shows the way forward for increasing recycling levels in the UK.

“Without a willingness to engage local authorities, this could not have happened, and we now encourage councils to use these guidelines to enhance their communications and give the public the consistent messages they say they want.”

Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson called them a necessary step towards greater consistency in household recycling collections and for improving the quality of recyclate by reducing contamination.

“[The guidelines’] adoption would be a low-cost intervention with the potential for a strong positive impact, particularly if they were to be combined with another low-cost intervention around improving transparency to the public of what actually happens to recycling and its end destination,” he said.

Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin also welcomed the guidelines, hoping they would be ”transformational” in terms of post-consumer recycling quality.

He said: “It dovetails with our own ’Quality First’ campaign, launched last month, in which we highlighted the need for the full recycling supply chain to take responsibility for material quality.

”Householders and local authorities are the first part of the recycling supply chain. What they do and achieve is instrumental on household recycling quality.”

Linda Crichton, head of resource management at WRAP, said: “We wish to thank all those involved for coming together to enable this ground-breaking work to happen. It has been a truly collaborative effort without which the guidelines would not have been produced.

“We all have an interest in increasing recycling and making it less confusing for people. As such we encourage organisations to consider the guidelines and adopt the information and messages that are relevant to them.”

Work on the guidelines has been informed by WRAP’s 2016 Recycling Tracker Survey, which found that two-thirds of UK households (66%) expressed uncertainty about how to correctly dispose of one or more items, and almost half (49%) admitted to disposing of one or more items in the residual bin when they are collected for recycling in their area.

The guidelines, as well as the findings from the consumer testing, will be embedded in Recycle Now resources and available to local authorities and other partners to download and localise.

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