The Government want to increase the consistency of materials recycled in England and how these are collected, to reduce confusion in the materials that can be collected for recycling at kerbside. The Government also wants to improve the recycling of waste from non-domestic premises that produce household waste and relevant waste from businesses.
England has seen household recycling rates increase from 11% in the 2000 to 2001 financial year to 42% in 2021 to 2022, but in recent years rates have plateaued at around 42% to 44%. To address this, the Government will repeal EU-derived waste collection requirements and introduce improved and simplified requirements through the Environment Act 2021.
The Government held a second consultation on increasing recycling consistency in England during May – July 2021. The following areas were consulted on
- Collection of dry recyclable materials from households
- Collection of food waste from households
- Collection of garden waste from households
- Statutory and non-statutory guidance
- Collection of non-household municipal waste
In October 2023, the Government published their long-awaited response to the 2021 consultation. Within this response, new requirements were confirmed
- All local authorities in England must collect the same recyclable waste streams for recycling or composting from households. The recyclable waste streams include paper and card, plastic, glass, metal, food waste, and garden waste
- All non-household municipal premises in England (such as businesses, schools and hospitals), must make arrangements to have the same set of recyclable waste streams (with the exception of garden waste) collected for recycling or composting, and must present their waste in accordance with the arrangements
The improved recycling system will support investment in domestic reprocessing facilities, creating UK jobs and increasing recourse security. The reforms will mean that people can recycle the same items at home, work or school throughout England. This will be supported by the introduction of mandatory recyclability labelling on packaging, a requirement that will be introduced as part of extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging. Together, these policies will make it much easier to know what can and cannot be recycled.
These consistency measures will ensure that across England, people will be able to recycle the same materials, no longer needing to check what their council will accept for recycling. Simpler Recycling will ensure that local authorities retain the flexibility to collect the recyclable waste streams in the most appropriate way for their residents.