- The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has released new national recycling guidelines in consultation with 11 companies and trade associations, as reported by edie.
- The guidelines cover everything from whether to leave caps and labels on bottles to emptying liquids from containers to cleaning food waste from packaging. They are available for use by companies and local governments to help reduce a growing contamination issue in some U.K. countries.
- WRAP estimates that more consistent standards could help the U.K. waste industry recycle an additional 12.8 tons of material by 2025, especially foil and aerosol cans, and provide a wider range of service to millions of households.
WRAP was inspired to design the guidelines after its most recent Recycling Tracker Survey showed two-thirds of U.K. households didn't know how to dispose of at least one common item. Data obtained from the BBC in August also showed an 84% increase in contamination rates in recent years and confusion over recycling rules has even contributed to more attacks on local sanitation workers.
The effects of these guidelines will also be of interest in the U.S. where contamination is still a factor in most recycling programs. Because it's in the industry's best interest to get larger quantities of clean material, efforts are underway to improve infrastructure and get higher quality material in the supply chain.
As is the case with all recycling efforts, it all comes down to whether people are motivated to participate correctly. New findings from the Pew Research Center show that recycling still isn't a cultural norm in many parts of the U.S. and there is no easy answer. One survey from England found residents might increase participation if they knew more about where the material was going, while another has shown that the availability of recycling may lead to more wasteful behavior in the first place.