Report Finds Flaws in Recycling Rate Calculations and Reporting

Connector Spring 2018

The UK could be over-estimating how much plastic it recycles by a third, according to a shocking new report. A fundamental flaw in how businesses work out their rate of recycling means Britain is likely to have missed every annual EU target since at least 2008.

According to government figures Britain generated 2.26 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2015 but the real figure is more likely to be around 3.5 million tonnes, the report shows.

Researchers found that businesses have paid ‘barely anything’ to deal with the problem.

The official government figures have been disproved by waste consultancy Eunomia, which says much of recycled material is of such poor quality it is not re-used.

According to the report, official figures that say 39 per cent of plastic packaging produced is recycled is far too high. The waste consultancy firm says the true figure is between 23 to 29 per cent – meaning that the UK missed its recycling targets every year from 2008 to 2012.

‘The lowest plausible estimate is far higher than the official figure’, researchers wrote in their report. One reason for the discrepancy is that waste reported as recycled often includes moisture and other contaminants.

‘This is true especially where the material is exported (and the majority is)’, researchers wrote. ‘The material reported as “placed on the market” is effectively measured when it is clean, dry, and free from extraneous material and contaminants,’ they wrote. ‘This approach is structurally inclined to over-estimate the recycling rate, and the report indicates how it could be remedied.’

Of 30 billion plastic bottles used by UK households each year, only 57 per cent are currently recycled. Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter.

Source: Daily Mail Online