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The unexpected consequence of the cost of living crisis hits UK's recycling rate

NOBODY wants your dirty recycling, thank you. If you don't wash your recycling, it just gets burned or buried in a big hole in the ground. That's the stark message from a waste collection company that's doing its very best to encourage greater recycling. According to, too much contaminated refuse in a lorry of supposedly:- "recycled" waste could mean that the entire load is rejected.

"It's usually because people are too lazy to rinse out jars and containers, but with the higher cost of living, we think people aren't rinsing them out to save money on their water bills"
says spokesperson Mark Hall.

Despite virtually every household and business in the UK having a special bin or bins to put their recycling in, the sad fact is that we're just not very good at it. If fact, the recycling rate for England has stalled at around 44% for the last few years, meaning that more than 50% of all rubbish still goes to landfill, or sent is for "energy recovery" (the harmless-sounding term for "setting fire to your rubbish to generate electricity and stacks of CO2"). And the greatest problem from both domestic and commercial waste is contamination. For paper and cardboard, it means that it can't be recycled if the load is filled with takeaway cartons that still contain pizza crusts and food leftovers. The same goes for recycling plastics. It can't be recycled if it's mixed in with other sorts of waste. And if a lorry load of paper waste is deemed to be too contaminated for recycling, it gets dumped.

The level for paper waste contamination is very low; about 3%; meaning that just a few households or businesses throwing food waste in with the cardboard in the belief that:- "They'll all sort it out at the other end" could mean tonnes of waste heading for the furnace instead.

For plastics and glass it's exactly the same. A quick rinse under the tap could mean the difference between recycling and landfill.'s Mark Hall seid:- "Contaminated waste means time, effort and money wasted all down the line. And let's not forget the loss of resources that could have been used again."

The solution, of course, it to take better care of your recycling. But it's not as simple as that.

"Yes, we should all try not to put food waste in your paper recycling, and to wash out containers, but these are difficult times,"
says's Mark Hall.

With utility bills going through the roof, many households and businesses are looking to say money wherever they can.

That means those of us on water meters are watching out for every last drop:- "And why waste water rinsing out an empty tin, jar or plastic packet?"

Mark suggests dunking your messy recycling in the washing up water at the end of the wash, or perhaps have a bucket of water outside the back door for just that purpose. Or, and controversial opinion here, if you can't clean your recyclable goods, then don't. All we ask is that you instead put it in with your general waste where it won't contaminate the recycling for the rest of your street.

Mark Hall added:- "We recognise that people are struggling with just about every aspect of life at the moment; so sometimes we have to think outside the box. And if that box is filled with leftover chippy tea, then put it in the rubbish bin, please."

Electric motorbikes race onto UK roads through transport decarbonisation measures

ELECTRIC motorbikes and mopeds will soon become the norm on UK roads as the Government sets out a range of measures to mark a year of success since the Transport Decarbonisation Plan was introduced.

The plan set out the UK's world leading 'greenprint' to create cleaner air, healthier communities and tens of thousands of new green jobs across the UK. The progress 1 year on today shows almost 7,500 extra electric vehicle chargepoints have been installed, supporting the 900,000 green vehicles that are on UK roads, and over 130 new walking and cycling schemes have been funded. The production of zero emission vehicles alone has the potential to support 72,000 green jobs worth up to £9.7 billion in gross value added by 2050.

To mark its one-year anniversary, the Government is launching a new public consultation to accelerate the transition to zero emission travel by phasing out the sale of new fossil-fuelled motorbikes and moped by 2035, or even earlier for some vehicles.

A further public consultation, Course to Zero, is being launched seeking views on the best route to net zero emissions by 2050 for the UK's domestic maritime sector. This will help inform the Government's future actions to achieve decarbonisation across the UK's vital domestic shipping industry.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said:- "Across road, rail, sea and air we have taken decisive action to reduce harmful emissions while enabling innovation and growing the economy. We have provided certainty to both the industry and consumers through investment to stimulate a new market to reduce the need for fossil fuels."

Alongside the consultations, the Department for Transport is announcing funding for a competition to help industry develop the zero emission motorcycle supply chain in the UK. This will help create a manufacturing base for small, emission free vehicles and could lead to thousands of new jobs across the UK. Successful applicants for the £350,000 fund, will undertake research to support the production and distribution of new, green vehicles within the sector.

Since the Transport Decarbonisation Plan's launch last year, the Government has worked at pace to deliver many of its ambitious commitments, including bringing forward a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate to set targets for manufacturers to ensure the supply of electric vehicles meets the soaring demand. Further progress includes:-

Announcing plans to support the UK market to increase public electric vehicle chargepoints by tenfold, by the end of the decade as part of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, making public charging cheaper and more convenient than refuelling at a petrol station.

Launching the Government's 1st office dedicated to decarbonising the UK's maritime industry, known as the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions.

Developing a Jet Zero Strategy, which will be launched this year, setting out the roadmap to achieving net zero aviation.

A world leading pledge confirmed at the COP26 Summit to dramatically increase the pace of the global transition so that all new cars and vans are zero emission by 2035 in leading markets and by 2040 globally. This declaration now has 180 signatures, including from 39 countries worldwide and 14 major vehicle manufacturers on top of cities, fleets and investors.

Launched a £200m Zero Emission Road Freight demonstrator programme - supporting industry to develop cost-effective zero emission HGVs and their associated infrastructure.

Supported 7 trial hydrogen transport projects to inform future investment decisions and prime export opportunities. The successful trials could lead to increased use of hydrogen powered transport to move goods and carry out services

Creating Active Travel England, led by Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman and providing Local Authorities with £161 million, to deliver 134 1st rate schemes to develop new footways, cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings across England.

Helena Bennett, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, said:- "The Transport Decarbonisation Plan laid ambitious foundations for the sector to begin its transition to net zero after thirty years in which emissions have stayed largely unchanged. It's promising to see delivery of some of the plan's goals begin including announcements on a zero emission vehicle mandate and phase out of polluting HGVs, but there is more to be done to keep the sector on track with climate targets, and it's more important than ever, given the cost-of-living crisis, that boosts to public transport and walk and cycling infrastructure are prioritised."

The Government is also aiming to improve health and make walking and cycling the natural 1st choice for shorter journeys and has published its second Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. It sets out estimated investment, already committed from various funds, of almost £4 billion into active travel across the Government until 2025, including £2 billion announced for active travel in 2020. This investment will deliver measures including high quality walking and cycling routes, safer road junctions, cycle training and a Walk to School Outreach initiative.

This progress will help meet the Prime Minister's 'Gear Change' vision to ensure half of journeys in Towns and Cities are walked or cycled by 2030.

National Active Travel Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said:- "If we want to enable millions more people to walk, wheel and cycle for everyday journeys, we need to make the environment feel safe and attractive. Funding and supporting Local Authorities to achieve that is what Active Travel England will focus on; making local trips easier for everyone to make without having to drive. I'm looking forward to working with Councils and other partners to turn this national vision into a reality. Together we can build a pleasant and sustainable future."


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