UK’s Waste Management Industry Unites to Develop National Recycling Guidelines

Connector Fall 2016

Britain’s rising recycling contamination levels could be pulled back on track thanks to a new set of guidelines developed by the waste management industry which detail exactly what can and cannot be accepted for recycling at the kerbside.

The National Recycling Guidelines, developed by WRAP along with a number of other organizations and trade bodies, have been designed to better inform householders across England, Scotland and Wales as to what can be included in recycling bins and how these materials should be presented.

The Guidelines cover paper, cardboard, cartons, metal, plastic, food waste and glass. They go into detail about whether or not certain materials need to be rinsed off; if lids should be left on or taken off; and why certain items still cannot be accepted for recycling in particular areas.

This is the first action that has been delivered in support of greater consistency in household recycling, following the publication of the industry’s Framework for England in September. A month prior to that, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request carried out by BBC Breakfast had revealed that the quantity of rejected recyclable waste in England had increased by 84% over the past four years.

The reason for this increase in rejected recyclable waste is contamination, caused by the wrong materials being placed in the wrong bins, or containers still holding the remnants of unconsumed food or liquids.

WRAP designed the new Guidelines in light of its latest Recycling Tracker Survey, which revealed that two-thirds of UK households are uncertain how to dispose of at least one common waste item – including foil, plastic toiletry bottles and aerosols – and almost (49%) admitted to disposing of recyclable food items into the residual waste bin, predominantly due to the belief these items would attract foxes, vermin and flies.

But initial testing of the new Guidelines has already demonstrated the potential positive effective: 94% of initial respondents have learned something new, with more people learning about items that cannot be recycled than items that can be.

Read WRAP’s new National Recycling Guidelines here.