The Government’s £10 million multi-media campaign, Recycle Now, has launched this week and has had at least another £30 million of funding ploughed into it by the Defra to help publicise the message that “the possibilities of recycling are endless.”

Ambitious recycling targets have also been set for Local Waste Authorities (LWAs), with the Government aiming for one quarter of all household waste being recycled or reused by 2005.

But these goals will not be met, FoE waste campaigner Georgina Bloomfield claims, unless Defra finds more cash to back up the development of recycling plants in local communities.

“It is great that this campaign is raising public awareness, but the Government still must do more to help people recycle,” Ms Bloomfield told edie. “Local councils need more funding and support from the Government in order to ensure that every household has a comprehensive doorstep recycling scheme.”

However, Environment Minister Elliot Morley was positive about the campaign, saying recycling was now easier than ever before. He said two out of three homes in the UK currently had kerbside collection schemes, compared with only 40% five years ago, and the national network of “bring” sites at supermarkets and local shopping areas was constantly expanding.

“We need to reduce the amount of waste we generate,” said Mr Morley. “It is time to stop thinking of waste as rubbish. So much of the waste we generate could be reused, recycled and transformed from a problem into an asset.”

According to official Government figures, every tonne of glass recycled saves more than a tonne of raw materials, leading to less quarrying, less damage to the countryside, less pollution and global warming and increased energy savings.

Household recycling and composting reached its highest ever level two years ago, at 14.5%, and Mr Morley said he was confident that the UK would meet its 17% recycling target this year – the first time such a national target would ever have been met.

But Ms Bloomfield also pointed out that the amount of waste that we are producing is also set to increase, and saw a 1.1% rise over the 2002-2003 period. The UK figures, she said, were also less impressive when compared with those of neighbouring countries.

During 2001, the Netherlands and Austria both recycled nearly two thirds of all their municipal waste, while the UK managed only 13%. Moreover, only two EU countries, Portugal and Greece, actually scored lower, with 4% and 9% respectively.

“The UK should follow the example of our European neighbours who are already recycling over half of their domestic waste,” Ms Bloomfield said. “But we will not have a recycling record to be proud of until recycling is as easy as throwing out the rubbish.”

By Jane Kettle

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