If anyone saw Breakfast News on the BBC or read the front page of the Daily Mail website this morning you may have been as gobsmacked as us organic-ites at the the state of recycling in the UK. It has been revealed that a significant amount of the paper and card we have come to habitually recycle is not being used. That's right - our waste is being wasted.
The poor global economic conditions has meant that our biggest recycled paper buyer, China, is demanding less of our paper waste. The result - prices have dropped (£70/ton to £10/ton in the last six weeks) and the excess which can't be sold is being stored. What's more, recycling contracters charge councils for their stored waste and taxpayers receive the bill. The alternative would be councils sent our paper waste to landfill and foot a bigger bill which will of course be passed on to us also.
Matthew Elliott, from the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Daily Mail: ‘When the economy is in recession and families are struggling to pay their bills and fear for their jobs, councils need to think hard about the future of these schemes. We all want to do our bit for the environment, but we can't afford higher tax bills this year.'
This is disheartening and extremely frustrating for avid recyclers and the response is understandable given the time and hope invested in recycling programs. But here's something to think about - why has the market in recycleble material really dropped? We're buying less largly due to the credit crunch but we are also largely still choosing non recycled products over recycled ones.
Yes, the less we consume the better off the environment will be, but when we do spend our hard earned cash we must make a more concerted effort to buy stuff that uses less packaging, that can be refilled, reused AND recycled. It's time to promote sustainable recycling - that's for long term and that which incorporated our entire lifestyle.
We can't take this market challenge as an excuse to fear higher council taxes and stop our recycling efforts. We are alllll part of the solution. If we don't buy the recycled loo paper, recycled office paper or support smaller companies who offer recycled alternatives how can we expect our councils recycling contracters to magic up the demand for our household recyclables?
For those who say buying recycled products is more expensive - we say not in the long run. The cost may be more immediate - ie 10p more for that loo roll made from recycled paper - but overall the cost of not recycling is massive. We can't afford not to recycle and buy recyled products.
Let's make the collective effort and choose wisely - there are companies like Neal's Yard
(whose bottles are all made for recycled plastic) and Remarkable (whose business is about making cool recycled stationary) who go out of there way to support recycling manufacturers. Let's go out of our way to support them.