21 September 2023
The Prime Minister’s Net Zero announcement yesterday – at the very time that the UN was meeting to call for more action on climate change, triggered heated debate, uncertainty, and concerns that the UK is taking its foot off the pedal and seems to think we can coast towards net zero without major shifts.
To deliver the enormous task of Net Zero requires confidence, particularly among businesses and institutions linked to civil society. They need to know what is to come to prepare and adapt. This is the message we hear time and again from the businesses signed up to our voluntary agreement - long term, consistent policies mean they can make investment decisions. In the case of recycling, we have been waiting for clarity for some time now.
Key to delivering Net Zero is a functioning recycling infrastructure to keep resources circulating and supporting the reduction of consumption-based emissions, which nearly rival those of energy-production at 45% global GHG.
Recycling is the bedrock of a strong sustainable economy and provides enormous environmental benefits. In the UK alone, recycling saves between 10 and 15 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year – the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road. So, we need to turbo charge our efforts in this space and not ditch recycling policies, as was reported by some.
Thankfully the policies are not being ditched, the only thing being scrapped is the idea that every home will receive seven bins. That was never the ask of consistent collections.
It will be important to scrutinize the details of what emerges as consistent collections morphs into ‘Simpler Recycling’ – for both dry recycling and food waste - but as the Government’s own 2019 consultation found, over 80% of respondents were in favour of the separate collection of a core set of materials, and the public want to know that the material is really being recycled.
‘Simpler Recycling’, if it includes the ideas we championed, has the potential to increase what we collect from homes and businesses in England by around 10 million tonnes every year. And provide the much-needed boost to stagnating recycling rates, and naturally to the Government’s Net Zero ambitions.
We urge everyone to work constructively to overcome any emerging implementation challenges because climate change won’t wait, and Simpler Recycling simply must happen.
Claire Shrewsbury, Director Insights and Innovation WRAP
Notes to Editor
- WRAP is a climate action NGO working around the globe to tackle the causes of the climate crisis and give the planet a sustainable future. We believe that our natural resources should not be wasted and that everything we use should be re-used and recycled. We bring together and work with governments, businesses, and individuals to ensure that the world’s natural resources are used more sustainably. Our work includes: UK Plastics Pact, Courtauld Commitment 2030, Textiles 2030 and the campaigns Love Food Hate Waste and Recycle Now. We run Food Waste Action Week and Recycle Week.