People have a right to know how their recycling is used

Do you know where your dry recycling ends up? I suspect not.

Households across the length and breadth of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland may be carefully sorting their plastic, paper, card, glass and metal into their recycling bins but the truth is residents have little idea about where this valuable material is going. Could some of it even be ending up in landfill? Perish the thought!

The picture it seems is very different in Wales, a fact that was highlighted when the Welsh Government released a new report on 22 March drawing together recycling data submitted to WasteDataFlow by Welsh local authorities.

Apparently the first report of its kind to cover the destinations of recyclables in Wales over a 12-month period, Dry Recycling End Destinations: a Report for Local Authorities in Wales has raised some important questions around household dry recycling and the end use of materials.  

I won’t be the first to say that the Welsh approach is flawless and yes it’s true that the report only covers recyclable materials collected through recycling collections; it does not include recyclable materials recovered from the residual waste stream.

But that does not detract from the underlying message here – we need to know how this valuable material is being used and we can only do that if we know where it ends up.

The new Minister for Natural Resources in Wales Alun Davies hit the nail on the head when he said that collecting and recycling high-quality recyclate benefits the environment and the economy – retaining resources, creating local employment and stimulating markets.

Enabling residents to see where this valuable material ends up and to grasp that their recycling efforts have a positive knock-on effect in terms of greater resource efficiency is really important.

It’s what our Resource Revolution is all about, extracting maximum value from material streams. So come on England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and get with the programme.


Nick Warburton

Topics: Waste & resource management
Tags: Data | glass | Ireland | residual waste | resource revolution | Scotland
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