As of Wednesday July 2nd, 2014 the EU has unveiled a new plan to see 70% of municipal rubbish and 80% of packaging recycled by 2030. An ambitious plan with several disparate ends to consider. This is said to be part of a new “circular” economy intent on breaking the cycle of use and disposal as well as create better goods from recycled products. Touted to create more than 500,000 jobs across the union, most of the responsibility in the UK will fall to the local councils.
As the recommendation came in from Brussels, one thing was clear, the European Union is tightening its stance on the amount of rubbish going into the landfills. With another proposed ban on burying recyclable material set to be in place by 2025, what can go into the landfill is about to change dramatically.
As for the UK, there are a unique set of challenges the local councils are facing with these proposed figures. With recycling numbers plateauing around 43% after a decade of steady growth, the councils had enough of an uphill challenge to meet the 50% figure by 2020, and now have ten years after that date to increase the figure another 20%.
This task now falls to the local councils, and how do they go about reinvigorating the recycling movement? On one hand, after a decade of unprecedented gains, it’s not time to rest on laurels, but with lukewarm enthusiasm from the coalition government, it will be difficult for councils to create the momentum necessary.
Some nations like Austria and Germany already recycle 63% and 62% of their rubbish respectively, and this is as a result of focused leadership, increased reach of facilities and resources, and popular outreach. Most of this achieved on the national level, are we asking too much of the councils? Is the task too great for their limited reach?
There is some wisdom in citing a good council’s abilities to know its citizenry and in turn implement a precise approach tailored for their people, but this still offers limited upside. With a stronger centralized approach, the councils would be less burdened by creating a plan, than facilitating its success on a local level. Of course this recommendation by the EU is still a proposal and must be debated before it can come into force.
So, as these changes near? What are your thoughts? Should your council be tasked with the job? Should the coalition government take a larger role? Is the 70% figure too ambitious? Is the 70% figure not enough? Join the conversation with us at Rubbish Please in the comments below. After all, these are our communities.
Image source: essex.gov.uk