Can the UK Meet a 70% Recycling Target?

Unless you’ve been living under a compost bin, you will have heard about the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package, with its binding recycling target of 70% by 2030. You may also know that the UK currently has a recycling rate of just 46%. It goes without saying that green groups are very excited about this target, as are many others. So, while you’re considering who you can rope into filling that skip bin you’ve hired, let’s address the elephant in the room. Is the UK’s 70% recycling target achievable? A skip hire in Richmond are going to tell you the latest…

UK recycling

Some Councils in Italy and Spain are Doing It

Given the bad rap Naples gets on rubbish collection, you may be surprised to know that a few councils in Italy and Spain have reached a recycling rate of 80%. At home, two Oxfordshire councils have almost reached the 70% target. These targets are being met through simple kerbside collection of dry and food recyclables, and sales of separated recycling. Moreover, collection costs have been offset and people can make money recycling.


It Will Require Community Participation

Targets like this are only as strong as every individual, and that requires public buy in. A recent poll has shown that 72.6% of people recycle to help the environment, but 44.1% don’t think it makes a difference. Meanwhile, the EU is promoting the targets as ethical across the product life-cycle. This factors in product durability, non-hazardous componentry, recycling incentives, and business models that encourage consumers to rent or lease products.


It Will Require Government Support

Successive governments brings their own perspective when it comes to recycling, and the coalition government has been criticised for being too hostile. Green groups and the government have also been at loggerheads regarding the necessity of incinerators, with the government believing incinerators will be required alongside recycling plants, and green groups arguing they inhibit the desire to recycle.


It Will Require an Attitude Shift

The UK’s attitude towards products, the economy, and recycling, is often criticised as a hangover of the 19th century. However, only 12% of waste was recycled in 2001 compared to 46% now. Other groups believe the 70% target isn’t high enough, citing Wales and Scotland’s ultimate goal of zero waste disposal as a true incentive.


Notwithstanding technical and social barriers, local councils can do a lot to incentivise recycling, at less cost than landfills or incineration. While the coalition government may be treading cautiously, the EU suggests that recycling creates jobs, and will prove more economically beneficial than maintaining the status quo.


Of course, nobody is suggesting reaching the target will be easy, but others are doing it, and the UK has come a long way in a short time. It will take community buy in, local government support, and an ethical commitment. However, living with an ethical eye on the environment can promote further positive action and, with that in mind, 15 years to achieve a 70% recycling rate seems completely attainable.

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