UK recycling infrastructure struggles to cope

A report by packaging producer DS Smith suggests that the UK is close to reaching a ‘tipping point’ on recycling, where the amount of material will exceed the capacity of UK infrastructure to recycle it.

A lack of investment in recycling, along with poor stimulation of secondary materials markets and an increase in levels of waste incineration are all contributing to poor recycling rates for the UK, such that the country is forecast to miss the EU 2035 recycling target of 65 per cent. If trends continue the UK will not achieve 65 per cent recycling until 2048, DS Smith says.

Consumer confusion about what can be recycled is also having an impact on the UK’s recycling levels. The report states that consistency of collections across local authorities could help to improve recycling, as well as universal labelling on bins and packaging, statutory recycling targets for all UK nations, and a dedicated recycling minister to bring these issues to the fore in government.