British Sandwich Association calls on government to ‘resolve recycling issues’

06/02/2018 - 07:00
The British Sandwich and Food to Go Association is calling on the government to “resolve issues that are acting as a barrier to recycling,” if it is serious about tackling on-going waste problems.

According to the association, “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.”

In its latest work, it also claims that consumers are confused about where to throw food packaging because there is no clarity in terms of collection and waste handling and that until “a joined-up collection system is put in place,”the issue will not be resolved.

The British Sandwich Association suggests:

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

Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich & Food To Go Association, said “without these actions, any attempt by the industry to increase recycling levels is likely to be doomed.”

He continued: “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.

“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.

“All it would take would be a standardised national colour coding and collection system and many of these problems could be resolved. Packaging could then carry the same colour coding making it clear to consumers exactly where packs should be disposed of.

“This would also influence change among retailers and suppliers as it would make it obvious which packaging was bad and encourage change.

“While a tax may boost Treasury income, it will do nothing to resolve the issues that are blocking recycling. What is needed is a levy covering all types of packaging, not just food packs, which should be ring-fenced for investment in recycling.

“We also need a transparent system where consumers can clearly see which types of packaging are the most recyclable – they will then put pressure on retailers and the packaging industry to drive change.

“Furthermore, we could do with more support from the waste collection industry in terms of guidance on the most appropriate types of packaging for recycling as many in the industry struggle to understand the complexities of the materials being used. For example, materials claiming to be ‘compostable’ are often seen as an ideal solution yet this is only so if they are disposed of through a compostable waste system

“Campaigns like the Evening Standard’s ‘Last Straw’ initiative to eradicate plastic straws are a great start but to make a real difference we need a robust recycling system that people understand and that makes sure packaging ends up in the right place where it can be handled. Too much recyclable packaging ends up in landfill sites because of failures in the collection system.”

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