The ever-changing landscape of waste management in the UK

With the ongoing uncertainty in terms of outlets for recycling of the world’s waste commencing in China, and with Malaysia now following suit with their recent ban on plastic waste imports, the question of what to do with waste is one firmly at the top of the agenda across the waste management industry. The Road to recycling is certainly not easy!

Put simply, it is no longer enough to encourage segregation of waste into individual waste streams, nor encourage energy recovery from mixed waste. it is a matter of the onus being on the consumer society at large to consider the throw away culture we have developed in the western world.

TEEP legislation which came into effect 1st January 2015 stipulated that paper, plastic, metal and glass waste must be collected separately where technically, environmentally or economically practicable to do so – ‘The TEEP test’. This started the ball rolling in terms of companies, which previously had not been recycling, then considering their options.

The question is, if there are reduced outlets for waste collection companies to take this to for reprocessing, is the most effective solution energy recovery from this waste?

Perhaps taking our lead from our grandparents, where the post-war society would ‘make do and mend’ is not a bad starting point. Reducing waste in the first place and re-using what we can is an ethos we encourage our customers to consider in terms of their waste management strategy.

Should the onus be on the manufacturers of products we purchase as a society be thinking about producing easily reusable or recyclable products? Many manufacturers such as PG Tips, who announced a switch to plastic-free fully biodegradable teabags, and Iceland, who have committed to be plastic free by 2023 have already started the trend towards using less plastic. Things seem to have gone quiet since then though.

It seems that the media has a vital role to play in terms of educating the business community. Sharing information about the best practice our Scandinavian counterparts is useful. For example many of these countries who produce 100kgs less per person than the UK (Finland 460kg pp vs UK UK 560kg pp). Reminding us ongoing about the best examples of businesses leading the way in terms of waste management at it’s pinnacle can only be a good thing.

This sharing of best practice will allow companies to benchmark their own approach and waste strategy, and then determine the way forward, which is something we at B&M Waste Services can help with. As a Carbon Neutral company, we’ve worked with companies from SMEs, retailers and education establishments to property management and blue chips alike to assist in the creation of bespoke waste management strategies, all of which start with education and a business decision to change.

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