Recycling week runs from today, the 18th of June until the 26th with the aim of promoting recycling at home and away. There are many events around the country promoted by the Recycle Now website run by WRAP (Waste & Resource Action Programme). The website also contains a lot of information on recycling.
Recycling helps to conserve limited resources and using recycled materials often use less energy than virgin materials. In addition, recycling reduces the amount of waste that goes in to landfill, hence extending the life of existing sites and reducing the need for opening new sites at great environmental and social cost. Recycling week is focusing on kerbside recycling (home) and recycling centres where you can take recyclable waste that is not collected kerbside(away). Another aspect of "away" that does not appear to be addressed is the dearth of recycling options in public places. In some countries, they standard pavement bin will have compartments for glass, metals, plastics and others but these are rare in the UK.
We really do need to encourage more recycling in the UK as we lag behind our European neighbours in terms of recycling and the proportion of waste going to landfill. We compost or recycle 34% of domestic waste compared with an average of 39% across Europe according to DEFRA figures and 55% goes to landfill compared with 40% across Europe. The figures vary significantly across the country with some areas recycling less than 20% of domestic waste and others over 50%.
Between different local authority areas recycling rates vary tremendously. The aim of recycling week is to raise awareness amongst the public and encourage participation but we should turn it around and challenge our local authorities to provide better and more comprehensive facilities and also to challenge retailers and manufacturers to make it easier for us to reduce waste.
Of course recycling isn't the whole solution, before recycling our domestic waste we should consider whether things can be reused and before that whether we actually need them in the first place.
Mechanical Biological Treatment: an alternative to kerbside recycling?
"Recycling" Food Waste