Britain’s creaking recycling system costing UK economy says DS Smith boss Miles Roberts

Miles Roberts DS Smith
Miles Roberts, chief executive, DS Smith

DS Smith group chief executive Miles Roberts has warned that Britain’s poor recycling infrastructure is costing the economy billions of pounds each year.

He noted that recycling rates for paper and cardboard appear to have dropped from nearly 80% in 2017 to 65% in 2020, according to Confederation of Paper Industries figures.


If this gap was recycled again, it would have been worth up to £1 billion last year alone. He said this should be done through separate collections of paper and cardboard.

Miles Roberts added: “As Europe’s largest recycler of paper and cardboard, we have committed to manufacturing 100% recyclable packaging by 2023 and are acutely aware of the huge responsibilities we face in protecting the environment and reducing waste.

“But we can only do this efficiently if we all play our part in managing resources more effectively and make it as easy as possible for people to recycle properly in their home, otherwise we risk serious economic and environmental consequences for generations to come.

“If we are to truly build back better, separate collections of paper and card are a critical step forward in creating a modern recycling system that secures green investment, helps the UK reach its climate goals and adapts to the huge new trends in consumer behaviour.”

He also welcomed the UK Government’s recent consultation on making collections consistent, but said this needs to achieve a positive outcome or the country’s recycling system risks falling behind.

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