National recycling initiative launched
A week-long national campaign to encourage more people to recycle was officially launched today alongside a report indicating that Britain is slowly beginning to recycle more waste.
The Big Recycle is a week of promotional events aimed at raising public awareness and increasing the amount of household waste being recycled. Events are being organised by local councils, individuals, community groups and supermarkets in England, Scotland and Wales to show people how, and where, they can recycle, and why they should be doing it.
The campaign is part of Recycle Now – a £10m promotional campaign run by the Waste and Resources Action Programme, a not-for-profit company set up to promote sustainable waste management. Recycle Now includes a series of animated TV commercials, press and magazine adverts, a recycling information website and a year-round schedule of promotional events.
UK recycling organisations including British Glass, Corus, Novelis, Paperchain, Recoup and Valpak are also involved.
The launch coincides with the publication of a new study that shows UK households and businesses are recycling more waste packaging.
The study, compiled by Valpak, a packaging compliance regulator, surveyed local authorities across the UK and found that British households recycled around one third of all their packaging in 2004 – an increase from around one quarter in 2002.
The report also found that approximately 3.5 billion glass bottles and jars, 1 billion plastic bottles, 2 billion aluminium cans and 2.5 billion steel cans were recycled by UK households in 2004, bringing the total weight, including cardboard containers, to 1.25 million tonnes of material, according to the study.
Meanwhile UK business – offices and industry 5.6m tonnes of packaging in 2004 – 66% of which was recycled.
The campaign is being led by environment minister Ben Bradshaw, who visited recycling plants on Friday ahead of the launch.
He said: ‘I welcome this new study which shows that households and businesses are recycling more than ever before, which is excellent news. There is no doubt that it is becoming easier to recycle in the UK, and that people are becoming increasingly keen to do so.
‘However, there is still room for improvement. The study does indicate that meeting European 2008 packaging waste targets will be challenging. We need to continue expanding our recycling infrastructure, and encouraging all households and businesses to play their part. Awareness-raising campaigns such as the Big Recycle have an important role in shifting public attitudes.’
The Big Recycle is also being supported by the four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent, Sarah Beeny of Channel 4’s Property Ladder, and Paralympic champion Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Sir Matthew said: ‘I’ve always been a big believer in recycling and use my local council’s doorstep collection service. I don’t even have to think about it now – I just do it. If we all realised what a massive difference we could make by recycling used packaging, such as food and drinks cans, glass and plastic bottles and jars, I think we would all do it.’
The government wants 30% of Britain’s waste to be recycled by 2010. With the current rate said to be at around 14.5%, Mr Bradshaw said the UK was on track to reach its target of recycling 25% of waste by 2006.
Britain has one of the worst records in Europe when it comes to recycling. Despite nearly 60% of household waste being recyclable, in some parts of the country councils only manage to recycle 10% or less compared to countries like Austria where people recycle 60% of their rubbish.
Claire Wilton, from Friends of the Earth, said the environmental charity welcomed the Bit Recycle initiative, but warned that more action was needed. ‘We’ve been asking the government for a long time to put more money into awareness campaigns but we’ve still got a long way to go,’ she said.
‘What we need is more money and higher recycling targets which should lead to more local authority collections.’
She added: ‘We’re currently recycling at 17%, and there are countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands which are recycling at 50% plus.’
Source: Guardian Society