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Recycle Week: Are there enough incentives to recycle?

27 September 2019

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It’s Recycle Week this week and here at CDEnviro we continue to be encouraged at the positive news around recycling and how the world is beginning to view waste differently.  However, the battle isn’t won yet and less conventional ‘wastes’ outside of the more well-known wastes (plastic bottles and cardboard) are still getting a hard time when it comes to recycling. We discuss the incentives to recycle (both the well-known and more obscure wastes) both for individuals and for businesses. 

 

Incentives for individuals-Demonstrating the bigger picture

Incentives come in many forms.  Many are motivated by knowing the full picture, others by knowing what impact they will have whereas some are incentivized by rewards.

When it comes to knowing the full picture, we believe that more could be done to encourage individuals to recycle.  This week, Edie posted data from WRAP that showed that 68% of residents received recycling data from their local council in 2018 which was an increase in the 59% recorded in 2018.[1]  This is positive, but we believe that every resident should know where their recycled products are going.  There is still a mentality among many people that “we separate the waste only for it to be put back into the one big bin or landfill” but educating our communities on what happens after they recycle could have a significant impact.

 

Incentives for individuals-Showing the impact for future generations

The same goes for those who are incentivised by knowing the impact they will have in the long-term.  For many, the impact that recycling will have on the great grandchildren of their great grandchildren is difficult to perceive, but through the education of each generation that is to come and encouraging them to tell the older generations in their family, we can ensure that everyone is on board. A fantastic example of this in action is the cartoon designed by PepsiCo and Jeff Kinney, author of ‘Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid’, which encourages kids and teachers to recycle and celebrate others who recycle[2].

 

Incentives for individuals through rewards

Many people are also incentivized by rewards- deposit return schemes are one example of how this is effective. Supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Iceland and Tesco have begun to offer schemes such as these in some of their stores across the UK. In June, Sainsbury’s announced on Twitter that they launched their first reverse vending machine at the Lincoln Superstore. The vending machine allows customers to return their bottles in exchange for 5p coupons towards their shop. We think this is really positive and more similar schemes across the country could make big changes happen!

 

Incentives for businesses

The incentives for business can be the same as those for individuals- seeing the bigger picture, knowing the future impact and offering rewards are all ways we can encourage businesses to recycle.  Yet, one area that we see time and time again is that the government doesn’t do enough to understand the more unlikely wastes that contain resources.  Waste management companies across the UK believe in recycling, diverting from landfill and creating new resources, yet sometimes legislation still deters them from recycling valuable products because of the lack of knowledge around the ‘waste’.

Trommel fines are a key example of this. Trommel fines are a highly processed household waste, usually taken to landfill sites as the waste is often not considered to be recyclable, can be odorous and can contain a significant percentage of organic content.  This is sometimes true, but not always, and this mindset has led to increased disposal at landfill, companies incurring increased costs and even illegal dumping. 

Yet in the UK, there is an alternative to costly landfill taxes in the form of trommel fine washing and screening.  Valuable resources such as sand, stone and others can be extracted from trommel fines that need not be sent to landfill- instead, they can be resold, reused or repurposed.  However, legislation around wastes such as this often continues to encourage the mindset that the waste is too contaminated and not worth the hassle. We simply can’t have the opinion that ‘nothing can be done’- something can always be done, and we are working to prove it by recycling a number of ‘wastes’ that most view as invaluable. Some examples of these unlikely recyclable wastes include road sweepings, hydro excavation muds and contaminated soils. We believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

We’d love to hear your opinion on the matter. What more can we do as individuals, as communities and as businesses to recycle and what more can governments and organisations do to incentivise others?

 

For more information on the waste processing equipment that we provide, visit our solutions pages.

 

 

[1] Edie, https://www.edie.net/library/Recycle-Week-2019--The-state-of-household-recycling-in-the-UK-in-9-charts/6932 [Accessed 24/09.2019]

[2]PR Newswire https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pepsico-recycling-and-diary-of-a-wimpy-kid-author-jeff-kinney-team-up-to-inspire-recycling-habits-in-school-300915076.html[Accessed 25/09/2019]

Recycle Week Recycling Trommel fines Landfill diversion