UK is behind in the race to become a zero waste society

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The UK has made good progress in improving its recycling rates, but it remains a long way from meetings its long term targets

As targets are being set across the globe to increase the level of recycling, the UK is no exception and through England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales individual goals are being agreed. However, with statistics coming out on an annual basis, it would seem that the UK is falling dramatically behind in the race to become a zero waste society.

Recycling has been a part of society for decades and started to really pick up within the 1960s and 1970s as we realised we were being far too wasteful with potentially reusable resources and materials. Over the past few years a great deal of money has gone into the research and development of recycling and many ways have been developed to sort, process and transport the materials all over the world.

We are now at a point where even more materials are being recycled and the processes are becoming far more sophisticated. The government is therefore pushing for a bigger focus on the amount of waste we are producing and how much is being recycled.

Do we generate too much waste for 50 per cent status?

It has been reported that in England we generate around 177 million tonnes of waste each year. This is a huge amount and works out at around 3.4 tonnes per person which is, by anyone's means, excessive when there are a large number of recycling options available. The aim is to get to a 50 per cent recycling status in the UK by 2020 and, as a country, we have increased at one of the fastest rates around the globe in recent years.

However, some reports do state that we are behind in targets to reach the 50 per cent goal, and this is a concern for everyone. Homes and businesses across the country are trying incentives and councils are making it easier for people to recycle. The times of four different bins for the different types of materials are no more, as it was deemed too complicated and therefore put people off.

Could public awareness be the key?

There are also a number of changes going on with collection times and the way in which the recycling is sorted - fortnightly collections, alternating between recyclables and general waste, are becoming more commonplace. Eventually, the aim will be that everyone recycles the majority of their waste and understands the importance of doing it. Awareness is also being pushed by the government and many charities are running events to boost the public knowledge.

Between 2012 and 2013, the amount of local authority managed wasted sent to be incinerated saw an increase of 13 per cent. This is a worrying enough statistic, least of all because it is paired with a 27 per cent decrease in the amount of green waste sent for composting during the first three months of 2013. This hints that we are starting to fall behind, and with some countries already passing the 50 per cent mark we need to up our game.

Although more focus is on recycling, there clearly needs to be more effort made by UK residents. Companies such as TDS Safeguard are on hand to develop recycling strategies specifically for your business or home. Large-scale waste recycling companies such as this are becoming affordable and highly beneficial, especially if you are not completely sure on just how much of your waste you could be recycling.

This post was written by Amy Bennett on behalf of TDS Safeguard, the WEEE recycling company for both domestic and commercial properties.

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