A recent annual survey by RECycling Of Used Plastics Ltd (RECOUP), a UK-based charity and not-for-profit organisation, suggests that investment needs to be made in kerbside recycling collections infrastructure and communications.
The 2017 RECOUP survey said that despite “great progress” in collection of plastics packaging from UK households in 2016, the increase only represented less than 1% of growth compared to the previous year.
Over 512,000 tonnes of plastics packaging were collected for recycling in 2016 which consisted of over 340,000 tonnes of plastic bottles and nearly 170,000 tonnes of plastic pots, tubs and trays.
“New collection schemes are also slowing down, with only seven new kerbside schemes in 2016 reporting that they introduced the collection of plastic pots, tubs and trays,” said RECOUP.
Stating that opportunities for increased collections of plastic packaging were clear, RECOUP said its survey showed that collection rate for all types of plastic bottles stood at 58%, with a 32% rate for plastic pots, tubs and trays.
Five local authorities in the UK now do not provide a collection service that includes plastic bottles as part of their kerbside collection service and 76% (298) of local authorities in the UK collects plastic pots, tubs and trays.
The organisation criticised budget squeezes for local authorities, saying from nearly 160 survey respondents, 51% of local authorities in the UK received budget cuts for providing waste and recycling collections or delivery of communications to householders about waste and recycling.
“This represents a significant change to the results when the same question was asked the previous year – when just 13% reported budget cuts,” RECOUP added.
“If the UK is serious about increasing recycling rates it needs a strong strategy and delivery plan that is also financially backed,” it added.
There is, RECOUP added, an increased demand to engage and communicate with householders by running plastics recycling communication campaigns.
“However, this is one of the first areas to suffer from budget restrictions,” it said
RECOUP suggested that with the move towards Brexit, British withdrawal from European Union membership, the UK could have a legislative option of generating “a producer fund” which would be responsible for the delivery of national communications to raise awareness of recycling and increase participation.