Environment Minister says multiple council waste systems ‘absurd’

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Rory Stewart MP calls for a “single” waste management system throughout the country

The Environment Minister for the UK Government has said that the multiple waste management systems used by councils throughout the country are “absurd” and that “a single, harmonised system” would be more cost-effective for the country.

Rory Stewart, MP and Environment Minister for England, has suggested that a single waste collection system, implemented nationwide, would be much more resource efficient and would save councils a significant amount of money.

UK council waste systems too complicated

Environment Minister labels current council waste systems ‘absurd’

Despite Mr Stewart not supplying a solution or an alternative, the suggestion for a simpler system makes economic sense. Mr Stewart praised the efforts of those councils which provide separate bins so as to avoid co-mingling, but believes England’s recycling rate could be improved by a single waste management system.

The UK must be recycling 50% of the waste it produces by 2020 under EU regulations. If this target is not met, the government could face astronomical fines of up to £500,000 per day. Wales is already achieving this rate, but Scotland and England are lagging behind.

At present, there are 300 different types of council waste systems across England and more than £3billion is spent every year by councils on waste collections. The MP pointed out that 40 councils provide a separate food waste collection, while 260 do not; and some councils allow co-mingled waste while others expect the separation of glass, metal and plastic.

Mr Stewart said: “There are different sizes and colours of bin, different types of truck, different types of recycling system and different types of anaerobic digester consuming waste.”

The Environment Minister is working towards the successful implementation an idealised standard waste system alongside the resource charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), but the MP recognises that the project is a “challenge” that requires a lot of preparation, forethought and development.

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