New report examines if the UK can meet EU recycling targets

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The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has launched the first of two new reports examining how the UK can meet the new recycling targets (weight-based) proposed by the EU Circular Economy Package. 

ESA’s first report An economic assessment and feasibility study of how the UK could meet the Circular Economy Package recycling targets looks at how:  

  • Over half of councils will be able to meet the target of 60% recycling at no additional cost, but only if they are willing to make the changes to their services. This includes reducing the amount of waste collections to make the savings that could pay for additional recycling services. 
  • It is crucial that all materials collected for recycling are actually recycled into new products, and if we don’t have the end markets for these materials, there is no point in increasing collections. 
  • The current weight-based system influences the collection of heavy low value materials such as garden waste.  

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ESA executive director Jacob Hayler said: “The UK is struggling to meet the EU’s existing targets for 50% household recycling. This is largely due to a historic lack of funding and policy support in England – particularly on end-markets for recyclates – essential to driving recycling rates higher.” 

He added: “Current policy delivers current outcomes. If we want higher recycling rates, then we will need fresh interventions and additional funding. This report investigates precisely what additional costs and interventions would be required to meet the higher weight-based recycling targets contained in the forthcoming EU Circular Economy Package.” 

The second report will look at how the UK can recycle better by focusing on the materials that do the most harm and from which we can gain the most value from recycling.  

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