Pressure on councils as demand for recycled material falls

The world of waste is not immune to the bite of the economic slowdown, with local authorities reporting lower prices and less demand for recycled materials.

As industry around the world takes a dip, so the need for raw materials falls – denting prices for waste resources and causing problems for waste management plans which previously seemed robust and well thought through.

In an effort to offer support to local authorities, the government-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has set up a special advice forum.

The organisation says there is still a strong demand for high-quality recyclable materials and has expressed concern that both councils and the public may lose enthusiasm for recycling if it appears the material is unwanted.

While demand for some lower quality recycled materials, such as those which are mixed with other materials like plastic trays, tubs, pots and film, has dropped; there is still capacity and demand for other high quality recyclables such as plastic bottles and glass.

Liz Goodwin, chief executive at WRAP said: “In these uncertain markets with low demand for some recycled products, the message to householders is clear: there are markets for most materials and we should continue to recycle.

“Of course, it is important to check locally which materials can be recycled in your area.

“Many local authorities have told us that they are continuing to find markets for recovered materials, particularly high quality materials such as plastic bottles and glass.

“The vast majority of materials that are being put out for recycling are still being recycled. Let us be clear, material that is not put out for recycling will definitely end up in landfill, which has the worst possible environmental consequences.

“Recycling is now a way of life in this country – more than two-thirds of the population consider themselves ‘committed recyclers’, so it is imperative that we do not lose this momentum. Our advice, which local authorities support, is that we should all do what we can to continue to recycle.”

Sam Bond

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