The UK is required to meet an EU recycling target of 50% by the year 2020, which
means 50% of household waste needs to be recycled, prepared for reuse or composted.
But as UK recycling levels plateau, is this target achievable?
Between 2012 and 2013, England’s recycling rate increased by just 0.2%, to 43.2%;
if this rate continues, the 2020 target will not be met. Both Wales and Northern
Ireland also reported a rise in recycling and composting, but by a greater amount
when compared to England, reaching 57% in Wales and 45.1% in Northern Ireland (Q2
Austria is setting the standard and achieving a 63% recycling rate, while Germany
(62%) and Belgium (58%) are following close behind. Austria has looked to reduce the
amount of waste being sent for residual waste treatment including: a tax on incineration,
a landfill ban for organic waste and mandatory separate collection of non-packaging
waste and bio-waste fractions. Belgium has similar initiatives and includes fines for householders who don’t adhere to waste segregation rules,
thus encouraging participation. In addition to this, one report stated that Belgium has
"...obligatory source separated waste collections in both urban and rural settlements,
subsidies for reuse centres, pay-as-you-throw schemes, incineration taxes and
quotas on waste production per inhabitant."
Should we (the public) in the UK face stricter policies and more countrywide
initiatives to help move waste up the waste hierarchy? Or are our current recycling
campaigns, waste prevention initiatives and move toward a circular economy going to
facilitate an increase in recycling?