Massive rise in internet shopping means rethink on recycling
The massive rise in online shopping has led to a need to rethink how Britain recycles card and paper waste as volume increases twenty-fold in 15 years – even if that means communal recycling bins on every street corner.
That’s the opinion of the UK’s fastest-growing waste and recycling company, which thinks that we have to look to the continent if we’re going to increase our recycling rates and deal with the tonnes of waste left behind by our online shopaholics.
York-based BusinessWaste.co.uk says that British households are now producing so much cardboard due to the rise of internet shopping that even generously-sized domestic recycling bins aren’t big enough for many homes, meaning that alternative solutions are required.
“All the figures point to a steep rise in the amount of cardboard waste as a result of the £11 billion we spent shopping online in the last year,” Business Waste spokesperson Mark Hall says.
“With the average Brit spending hundreds of pounds every year on mail order, that’s an awful lot of delivery materials going into the bin. Most household recycling bins just aren’t coping.”
What Britain needs, Business Waste says, are communal cardboard recycling bins on British streets to enable householders to recycle their waste far more effectively.
“The communal street bin is a familiar sight across the continent, and they’re beginning to take root in some parts of the UK as well,” says Hall, “but we’re suggesting that councils use them just for one particular type of waste management.”
With people routinely turning to large web commerce sites such as Amazon for items they might have once bought in shops, the amount of cardboard waste is mushrooming in Britain:
• Current paper and cardboard waste in the UK currently stands at 3,659 million tonnes every year, with approximately half of that coming from domestic, rather than commercial waste.
• This domestic waste is split approximately 50% cardboard and 50% paper.
• However, volumes of cardboard are increasing year-on-year as a result of online shopping; while paper waste is falling as newspaper circulations decline
• Some councils don’t accept “brown cardboard” used in shopping deliveries, despite facilities being available nationally. Appropriate collections are currently a postcode lottery
BusinessWaste.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall: “Every delivery from Amazon or other online shops sends another cardboard box out into Britain’s streets, and only about half of them are picked up for recycling.
“Despite our pleas to online retailers, many orders are still being sent out in ridiculously large boxes, and the amount of cardboard and protective wrapping being wasted is phenomenal.
“We’d like to join with local authorities and other partners in the waste management industry to encourage as much cardboard recycling as possible, and we believe that this can be facilitated by a large increase of communal recycling bins on Britain’s streets.”
BusinessWaste.co.uk recognises that this idea will be met with opposition from residents and civic societies who see communal bins as a defacement their local areas with a detriment to house prices.
Hall counters with the argument that these bins can be placed discretely near garage blocks and out of the line of sight, and thinks that objections are largely motivated by people being asked to operate outside their comfort zones.
“The thing about recycling is that you need to put some effort in, and recognise it as being for the greater good of society,” he says. “We’re a nation dominated by short-termism, and if people can’t see what’s in it for them immediately, they automatically think it’s a bad idea.”
In fact, if bins are just restricted to paper and cardboard, and are emptied regularly, there will be little for people to complain about – not even the smell associated with general waste bins.
“This is one thing that we are all in together,” says Hall.
“If we want the convenience of next day mail order shopping, we’ve got to be prepared to pay the price, and that price is making sure we deal with the waste ethically and sensibly.”
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