Public ‘must’ be educated on recycling traceability

Local authorities and government need to create clear communication campaigns on the end destinations of materials collected for recycling so the public knows where it goes, according to an industry expert.

The announcement follows a recent survey published by plastic bottle recycler Closed Loop Recycling which highlights a growing concern from the public who think that waste from their recycling bins are being shipped abroad to be landfilled. It showed that a majority of Brits (91%) think that their local council should tell them where their carefully sorted waste is sent.

Commenting on the report, WasteSolve creative director Kate Cawley told edie: “Give people good, clear communication about waste routes and recycling, and you will be rewarded with excellent recycling rates and response. But when has this information been given – am I right in thinking almost never? No wonder the public is crying out for information.

“The only significant, national communication in recent years has been WRAP’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ and does that focus on where food waste goes, and why it’s a bad thing in landfill? No! Its focus is on waste prevention – the top of the waste hierarchy we all know so well, and which had to be the starting point. But times have moved on and people are more demanding of information now. Public communication campaigns are now engineered the wrong way round.”

Ricardo-AEA resource efficiency and waste management practice director Dr Adam Read added: “I think the public are concerned about the economy, the environment and their locality, so knowing that their recycling was supporting local businesses, UK industry and the UK economy would be a positive encouragement, this supports work I have done previously concerning commitment to recycling and the drivers for change.”

Cawley said that people “want to know about the waste journey, as much if not more than how to stop wasting things”. 

She added: “Think about it from a personal point of view.  If you’re on a tight budget you don’t need a public campaign to encourage you not to waste food – you’re already desperately trying not to waste food and money!  What might be interesting news to you is what happens to the things you just can’t help throwing away, like plastic bottles, cans or yoghurt pots.”

Liz Gyekye

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