Government confirms roll-out of Simpler Recycling in England

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Veolia household collections

Recycling Minister Robbie Moore announced that Simpler Recycling in England will be introduced from March 2025 with households seeing its introduction from March 2026.

The new scheme aims to simplify bin day and increase recycling rates across the nation.

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These new recycling collections will standardise the materials collected from homes, workplaces, and schools, ending the confusing variety of different approaches across England according to Defra. Councils will need to collect plastic, metal, glass, paper, and card in one bin in all circumstances. Similarly, food and garden waste will also be allowed to be co-collected in a separate bin. There will also be a third bin for residual waste.

According to Defra, this new approach will reduce confusion over what items can be recycled, as people will no longer have to check what their specific council will accept for recycling. It will also reduce complexity for councils and other waste collectors, ensuring they retain the flexibility to collect recyclable waste in the most appropriate way for their local areas.

In addition to this, the Government is supporting more frequent and comprehensive bin collections. A minimum backstop means councils will be expected to collect black bin waste at least fortnightly, alongside weekly food waste collections. This will stop the trend – seen outside England – towards three-weekly or four-weekly bin collections. Councils are also being actively encouraged to make collections even more frequent, to prevent smelly waste from building up outside homes.

Together, these new proposals will ensure regular and simpler bin collections from people’s homes across England – making recycling simpler for everyone Defra said.

Recycling Minister Robbie Moore said: “We all want to do our bit to increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill – but a patchwork of different bin collections across England means it can be hard to know what your council will accept.

“Our plans for Simpler Recycling will end that confusion: ensuring that the same set of materials will be collected regardless of where you live.”

The plans will apply to all homes in England, including flats. Similar measures will apply to non-household municipal premises, including businesses, hospitals, schools, and universities. As well as these developments, the list of premises in scope of these requirements has been expanded. Places of worship, penal institutes, charity shops, hostels and public meeting places will all come under the scope of the Simpler Recycling regulations.

As announced in October 2023, Simpler Recycling in England will require the collection of the same materials from all non-household municipal premises (such as businesses, hospitals and schools) by 31 March 2025 and households by 31 March 2026. Micro-firms (businesses with fewer than 10 full-time employees) will be required to collect these materials by 31 March 2027.

The Recycling Association chief executive Paul Sanderson said: “I’ve been saying for a while that we need to get on with introducing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Simpler Recycling and we are now getting the certainty that this policy is moving forward with clear deadlines for its introduction.

“Whoever wins the upcoming General Election should keep the framework of these policies in place so our Members and other stakeholders in the value chain can prepare for their introduction.

“While it is good that all local authorities in England will collect the same core materials of paper and card, plastic, metal and glass, I ask them to consider the impact on quality from any changes they make to their household collections.

“To enable access to markets as part of a global circular economy, and to create circular products from these materials, we need to ensure that they are collected and sorted to maximise quality with minimal contamination. 

“Although we welcome EPR and Simpler Recycling, I’m increasingly concerned that the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme is a material grab by producers of plastic bottles and metal cans at the expense of recyclers and councils.

“This element of the new regulation roll-out should be looked at again so that a Digital DRS can be used where householders and those producing household-like material can put it in existing collection schemes. I understand trials of these have shown good potential, and this would be a more effective and less costly exercise that rolling out reverse vending machines at supermarkets.”