The UK’s Problem With Recycling and How it is Being Addressed

In the past years, the UK has had a major problem when it comes to recycling their plastic waste! According to the research done in 2014, only 1.2 million tons of plastic waste was actually recycled out of a total of 4.9 million tons of waste produced by the citizens of Britain. As you can see, this is a big problem. But finally, it seems that a solution is on its way.

As it seems, the problem with the UK’s recycling does not lie with its people, but mainly with the program of recycling plastic waste. There are a lot of rules as there are different plastic types, some of them easily recyclable while the others are entirely not. In order to successfully recycle the plastic waste, you have you need to divide the garbage accordingly. This is where the problem starts.

According to Oliver Reed of HandyRubbish, a renowned junk removal company in Britain, the people of the UK do want to recycle their waste but are restricted with the offered recycling programs which make it difficult for them to comprehend. Clear rules should be made and people need to be educated more on this matter, but better technology and recycling solutions do need to be made at the same time. The recycling companies cannot rely on the people to do much of the work for them. They need to come up with a solution by themselves.

What is the Confusion All About?

The confusion starts at the very start. You don’t only need to divide the garbage from the other non-plastic waste, but you also need to separate different types of plastics when you do so. Mind you, all plastic containers are neatly labeled based on the type of plastic that it is made of. But some people are not entirely aware that this exists.

For instance, most plastic items, like clear water bottles, are made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a very easily recyclable type of plastic. But different types of plastic, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a harder form of plastic mostly used for credit cards, is difficult to manipulate and not very cost-effective to recycle. On the other hand, there is also the black crystallized polyethylene terephthalate (CPET), which is virtually unrecyclable due to the fact that most recycling machines are not able to identify black color items during the recycling process.

Here is where the main problem lies. Most of the citizens of the UK have to have a chemist degree in order to successfully recycle their waste. Educating them might be one way to solving this problem but it is more reliable if we just leave the expert stuff to the experts.

What is the Solution to the UK’s Recycling Problem?

After finally realizing what the problem with recycling in the UK is, a government initiative has been implemented which will lead Britain to a safer and sustainable future in the next four years.

According to the officials, there are many solutions which are being implemented so far. The key factor was identifying that Europe does not possess a steady and recyclable market as most of the waste has been sent to China and Malaysia, countries which use this recyclable raw material for most of their products. So the best and simple solution was to improve the recycling process.

But this is easily said than done. Whether we want it or not, technology still moves slowly and we need a solution until the technology catches up. One way to start is getting producers to use “virgin” plastic more, or easily recyclable plastic for now. In this case, polypropylene (PP) is an easily recyclable material and a program for its recycling does exist and is ready to be used.

Another solution is taxation! The UK government has already started a taxation law which will require plastic packages to be made out of at least 30pc of recyclable materials. Many companies have already agreed upon this and have started changing their packaging to meet the requirement. But the aim is for all of the companies to adopt it by 2025.

Many companies have also started using lease packaging while producers have also adopted an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, meaning that the manufacturers will take full responsibility for the lifecycle of their products, resulting in them paying the recycling and disposal fee if the proposed lifecycle is not met.

But a more viable solution comes from the FMCG giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) who are spearheading a campaign known as the Holy Grail. It includes developing tracers and watermarks, such as fluorescent pigments, which are meant to identify and separate each piece of plastic individually. It will eventually cut out the middleman and save people a lot of time dividing their plastic.

Make Recycling an Every Day Thing

The changes that are supposed to come to the UK are supposed to make recycling less confusing for people and to encourage them to do so. With all of these improvements that are being made it will eventually change the labeling on containers to be more clearer for the users.

The idea is to label the products with “recyclable,” “reusable” or “compostable.” This is supposed to make things a lot clearer for the people and will encourage them to recycle. They will not need to lose extra time finding out how to recycle certain containers as everything is essentially spelled out for them.

Another initiative aims to make all plastic containers recyclable, making the recycling process even easier. So all of the packages labeled with EU’s Circular Economy Package can be easily recycled.

Recycling is one of the ways to reduce pollution in the world and all countries should find ways of doing it. Most of the world’s waste, especially plastic ends up in the oceans. It poisons fish and a lot of microplastics ends up eaten by sea creatures which are in turn later on ingested by us. Our plastic is coming back to us whether we want it or not. So ways to reduce it need to be created.

Share on:

About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.