In the past decade, recycling has become more mainstream than ever before. Recycling is a process in which you utilise your household waste, such as wrappers, plastics, etc., to create new usable objects; for example, an empty carton of juice made of paper can be converted into a cover for a notebook.
Why Does Recycling Matter?
Recycling is essential to the future of our planet. It conserves natural resources. For instance, when you recycle your waste paper and wood, it saves trees and forests. When you recycle your leftover plastic, new plastic will be created, which is good for our health and the planet. While recycling metals, fewer raw materials have to be extracted from the ground, preventing the pollution inherent in this process from being released into the environment. As you know, the extraction of metals is a dangerous process. Recycling means decreasing the demand for creating or extracting new raw materials.
Challenges Faced While Managing Waste in London
Now that we’ve completed our brief review of why recycling is necessary let’s talk about the challenges we face while managing waste in London, UK.
To our knowledge, the government has set the target of a 65% waste recycling rate, which must be reached by 2035. Still, this may be a challenge, as the UK is quite bad at collecting or recycling waste; and the current rate of recycling waste is wavering between 45% and 47%.
Recycling Rate Is Relatively Low
The recent waste flow data shows that the UK produces approximately 27 million tonnes of refuse annually, but the recycling rate was 46% in 2019. Four hundred eight local authorities collect the waste from households in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
All in all, waste recycling in the UK barely meets the criteria of the lowest recycling rate, which is 50%, set by the Local Government Association. Furthermore, according to the information collected, in the urban areas of the UK, where the population is dense, the recycling rate is relatively low. However, the scattered population centres have a much higher recycling rate than the more densely populated areas.
Why Are Difficulties Arising?
The researchers Timlett and Williams (2011) perceived three vital elements: infrastructure, service, and behaviour, also known as the ISB model, which we can use to increase recycling rates. Still, it is essential to examine the context of behaviours better. This is when the product’s end-users consume the product; they need to understand the importance of recycling. As long as they separate their waste and send it to be recycled, the rest of the process is easy to manage.
The UK is facing problems in managing waste. The difficulties arise due to issues such as low public engagement, physical barriers, service constraints, human factors, socio-economic barriers, lack of effective communication, and waste policy constraints. Let’s look at these barriers more attentively:
First is policy constraint, the basic and the root of how regional authorities collect waste from households. The policy should be efficient and effective for easy management of these constraints, examining all essential factors and solving them to manage waste conveniently.
In addition, there are physical barriers. Therefore, it is crucial to plan future developments to have legal conditions for internal and external storage spaces for recyclable waste.
In 2021, the rate of household waste recycled was 42% in England. This rate was much lower than that of the other leading European states.
Regional authorities assist the residents by implementing a waste collection system. Keep in mind that this service generally only applies to large recyclable materials.
The recycling rates are decreasing in the regions with an increase in multi-occupancy dwellings.
Also, the areas with less socialisation, education, knowledge of English, and residential instability see lower recycling levels.
Lack of Effective Communication
Lastly, due to the lack of effective communication and public engagement, the community authority should implement a strict policy using modern communication techniques. It should reflect how residents communicate with each other, drawing their attention and eventually making them participate in recycling. These measures are essential because when there is a low public engagement or a lack of communication on social issues, practical steps will not be taken for the betterment of the future of our planet.
So far, we have discussed the underlying problems that mean UK waste management authorities face challenges in managing waste and recycling. The local authorities need to be strict and rigid in implementing the policies and monitoring them punctually if they want to obtain the goal of the UK government of a 65% recycling rate.
The key elements mentioned above can be solved easily by applying a multi-dimensional strategy, which involves a detailed review of waste policy and rigid enforcement, an upgraded communication strategy, and a non-segregated plan to address the complicated recycling challenges.