According to the EU’s European Environment Agency, recycling rates in the UK rose faster in the last ten years than in any other country in Europe.
While these figures need to be seen with a little bit of perspective (Germany, for example have led the way in European recycling, and their already high rates have nowhere else to expand into), you can’t argue with the fact that we as a nation have grown from a paltry 12 per cent in 2001 to 39 per cent by the end of the decade. We’re now among the A-list when it comes to recycling in Europe, and well on the way to meeting the Community’s goal that every country should be recycling at least half of its waste by 2020.
However, while Britain is making huge strides in the right direction, others have lagged far behind. Official figures show that only one per cent of Romanian waste is recycled, while other countries such as Finland and Norway have actually become less efficient.
These figures come at a time where European ministers are deciding on the future of the 50 per cent goal. A public consultation on the issue has just closed, with many environmental action groups calling on the goal to either remain as it is, or even to be strengthened.
The problem is that while recycling targets make good sense, leading to less waste and more jobs in the recycling and waste recovery industries, they’re also looked upon as an unnecessary drain on tight budgets by countries that are in financial difficulties. Some countries have an awful ot of catching up to do, and it’s expected that many will come nowhere near the 50 per cent goal in the next seven years, so there will undoubtedly be pressure from national governments for opt-outs, relaxed targets and even scrapping of recycling regimes altogether.
We’re against this pressure. Granted, we’re a vested interested, but we believe that recycling is good for our business, it’s good for your business, and it’s good for households too. It benefits the national economy, builds jobs and should be backed enthusiastically. Tighter recycling targets are clearly the way ahead.
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