The latest annual Household Plastics Collection survey published by plastics recycling charity Recoup indicates that one of the effects of the pandemic has been to significantly boost the plastics recycling rate from household collections.
Until March, citizens continued to recycle at the same low rates as in 2019. However, more recent statistics indicate the change in lifestyles of citizens, working from home, home schooling, less travel and indeed less on-the-go food consumption has pushed households to recycle more of the plastic waste they generated.
Local authorities report an increase in excess of 20% of recycling in the first lockdown period, evidence which has been backed up by Recoup member Veolia, who has seen a 10% increase in kerbside plastics collected this year since the March outbreak of COVID-19, versus the 2% achieved last year.
This suggests that when people have the easy access to be able to recycle plastic that they do choose to do the right thing, noted Steve Morgan, Policy & Infrastructure Manager.
“2020 has seen a change in our waste flows as people are spending a lot more time at home than previously,” added Tim Duret, Director of Sustainable Technology, Veolia UK and Ireland.
"What remains critical is that we back up our environmental responsibility with legislation to create impactful change. The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy and Plastics Packaging Tax will provide the financial drivers for manufacturers to eco-design their products, increasing recycling and simplifying the process, keeping materials in a circular loop.”
The 2020 survey covers retrospective data from 2019 and demonstrates that up until March 2020, the overall rate increased by a mere 2%. The collection rate of plastics packaging recycling April 2019 to March 2020 is plastic bottles, 59%; plastic pots, tubs, and trays, 33%; plastic film,7%; all household plastic packaging, 39%.
The full edition of the survey will be available for Recoup members from Monday 7 December.