Industry calls on government to lift barriers to recycling

Industry calls on government to lift barriers to recycling

The government must resolve issues that are acting as a barrier for consumers to recycle, some members of the food to go industry have said.

The British Sandwich and Food to Go Association claims consumers and businesses are being prevented from recycling effectively by the lack of a cohesive approach to handing waste by local authorities and waste recyclers.

Their comments come after calls for a 25p ‘latte levy’ on paper cups to dissuade people from buying coffee cups and binning them in normal waste streams.

However, the Association points out that the UK already has capacity to recycle a high percentage of the paper cups used for drinks but is currently handling a fraction of this volume, largely because there is no structured way for collecting it. They also claim that people are confused about where to throw food packaging because there is no clarity in terms of collection and waste handling.

“While the industry supports recent initiatives by the Mayor of London and the government to reduce packaging waste, particularly in the food industry, the lack of consistency in packaging disposal makes it almost impossible to move forward,” said Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich & Food To Go Association.

“Almost all food to go packaging is carried out of shops for consumption elsewhere and most of this is disposed of randomly, making it very difficult for recycling. Even where packs are fully recyclable, more often than not they never get recycled as they should be because of disparate waste collection systems. Furthermore, there is ample evidence to show that consumers are confused about what can and cannot be recycled.”

The Association has three recommendations:

• Introducing a national recycling standard whereby local authorities all operate the same systems for waste collection, including a standard national colour coding system for bins;
• The introduction of an on-pack colour coding system, linked to the bin colours, which is universally applied to all packs so that consumers can easily understand where to throw their waste packaging;
• The introduction of a fair national levy – applicable to all packaging – to support funding of standardised recycling systems nationally and the education of consumers about recycling.