Major Legislative Changes to Affect How We Deal with Recycling

Mixed Recycling

The UK government is to introduce major legislative changes that will have a significant impact on how businesses manage waste and recycling.

The first major set of changes are proposed in the Environment Bill, which is likely to come into effect in the first quarter of next year. The Bill proposes that from 2023, waste will have to be sorted into six separate streams: food; glass; paper and card; steel and aluminium cans; plastic bottles; and plastic pots, tubs and trays.

We’ve all seen the stories of ‘bad’ recycling being sent abroad, where it is left to pollute the environment. The UK government hopes the latest proposals will result in higher quality recycling, with less contamination in the recycling collection and a higher recycling rate overall.

The Bill also gives the Secretary of State new powers to add separate recycling streams as they see fit. This could, for example, mean another stream is added so that Tetra Paks are collected separately.

A second major legislative change is imminent, as the UK government has announced it will adopt a piece of EU legislation called The Circular Economy Package, which will set a new national recycling target of 65% (currently, we recycle around 44%).

This legislation will also change how this figure is measured. At present, any waste collected in a recycling bin is classified as ‘recycled’. In other words, the calculation point for the recycling waste is determined by what goes in the bins (despite the fact a large amount of that material gets discarded due to contamination). Once the EU law is adopted, the recycling calculation point will shift to the sorting facility; only waste sent for reprocessing will be classified as recycled.

So, not only is the target being raised by almost 20% but the way the target is measured is getting much tougher. 

We therefore need to get our businesses ready to meet higher targets and more separation of waste. If you would like to find out more, our recycling company Paper Round has recorded a webinar introducing these changes and explaining what building managers can do to tackle these recycling issues and giving some tips to help improve the quality of our recycling.