Britain has made great strides in its recycling rates. Before the turn of the millennium we were recycling less than 10% of our rubbish. However, over the past fifteen years with some hard work and determination we have increased that rate to 45%. A percentage which is admirably close to the EU directive of 50% by 2015.
However, there are growing concerns that Britain’s recycling rates are stagnating, having risen by only 0.1% last year. In fact, officials admitted last year that Britain is set to miss the European targets, as studies suggest that the slowdown forms part of a far broader trend. Not only that, but recycling in Britain varies drastically. Some regions boast figures as high as 66% whilst others recycle as little as 18%. This discrepancy is extremely worrying, and as the EU looks to set a new target of 70% this seem to be unreachable for the vast majority of Brits. However, there is so much more that we in Britain could be doing to improve our recycling rate. So at Brantlegh Waste our team have consulted the experts, stolen a few ideas from other successful countries and cities across the world to come up with our recommendations of how we could recycle more.
A tradition that until rather recently was long forgotten has been brought back to the fore by some fairly compelling arguments. With the success of the 5p shopping bag many feel that bringing back the bottle deposit could further increase Britain’s recycling rate. Already used in America, it has a number of advantages: helping keep production costs down (it is far cheaper to make bottles from used glass than raw materials), is a far greener option and provides a powerful incentive for recycling.
- The Green Dot System
This has been used in Germany (Europe’s capital of recycling) with great success. It essentially means that manufacturers have to pay a tax on packaging. Providing a massive incentive to use less, it has ensured that less paper, thinner glass and less metal is used by companies across the country. This creates far less rubbish and is helping to save on the earth’s resources.
- Cogeneration plants
Seen in Sweden, cogeneration plants offer a fantastic method of re-purposing our rubbish. Turning waste into energy has seen Sweden send less than 1% of its waste to landfills, as well as helping to provide energy and electricity to power their cities. In fact, it has been so successful that Sweden is about to import 800.000 tons of rubbish from other countries to keep its cogen plants at capacity.
San Francisco, the golden girl of recycling made recycling and composting mandatory in 2009. A member of the public faces significant fines if they do not sort their rubbish properly. Interestingly, according to the rather impressively named Guillermo Rodriguez, San Francisco’s stellar record is not only due to top down legislation, but also thanks to the “San Francisco values” which have wholeheartedly embraced the ethics behind recycling. In fact, San Fran could well be moving towards Zero Waste.
- Car Sharing
Underused, this could well be a powerful platform on which to help save our resources, as well as encouraging a little socialising. With the aid of an app, it could be extremely easy to share rides to work, saving on costs and oil.