Why the Conservatives have been urged to act on recycling

Following the Conservative win in the General Election, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) immediately requested the new government to look at Britain’s flagging recycling rates.

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the ESA, said he is ‘looking forward’ to working with the new Conservative government to help make recycling and waste a parliamentary priority.

Hayler’s comments were prompted by statistics released by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that shows England is “no closer” to meeting the European Union’s recycling target by 2020.

Recycling flat-lining in England

His remarks also coincided with the release of report published by the European Commission, warning Europe is ‘at risk’ from failing to reach its 2020 recycling target.

The Resource Efficiency Scoreboard 2014 report analyses the progress of the EU’s 2020 recycling initiative. Whilst some EU countries have experienced high increases in recycling rates, namely Germany, Belgium and Austria, the report showed that the UK, despite seeing recycling rates increase from 25% in 2000 to 41% in 2012, had flat-lined since 2012.

According to Materials Recycling Work, the UK’s longest-established recycling and waste management magazine, the report’s statistics show that many countries, including the UK, risk falling short of the EU’s 2020 waste recycling target of 50% for each member state set by the Waste Framework Directive.

In the wake of these findings, Hayler noted the need to address England’s flat-lining recycling rates, describing it as a ‘key issue’ for the waste management sector.

As the election results were gathered and it looked like the Conservatives’ had secured victory, Jacob Hayler said in a statement:

“We look forward to working with them [Conservatives] to ensure that waste and recycling issues are well represented on the agenda for the next Parliament. The recycling industry has gone through a challenging time in the past 12 months but is well placed to provide jobs at the skills levels all around the country as we recycle more of our waste.”

Hayler added that a key priority for the new government should be finding ways to meet the 2020 household recycling targets, “without local authorities going bust”.

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) reiterated the ESA’s comments about the new government making waste disposal an urgent priority. The CIWM noted that waste management was void of the Conservatives’ election campaign and that the newly-elected government needs to get resources and waste management “back on the priority list for action”

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