Producers and councils join forces on ‘public confidence in recycling charter’

The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), the Kent Resource Partnership (KRP), the Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) and the Surrey Environment Partnership (SEP) join forces to develop the ‘Public Confidence in Recycling Charter’.

The Charter aims to be ‘fit for purpose’ for the 2020s and help meet the needs of the public, the packaging value chain, and the four UK governments. The focus is on reporting what happens ‘beyond the bin’.

The new Charter has five top aims:

  1. Reinforce public confidence in recycling across the UK.
  2. Celebrate when councils and the supply chain deliver great recycling results.
  3. Embrace system transparency as opportunities to be open about supply chain (includes manufacturers, packer/fillers, brands, retailers, citizens, councils, waste companies, recyclers, reprocessors) challenges that need attention, especially as they relate to public confidence in recycling.
  4. Develop better collaboration across all parts of the UK packaging value chain particularly with recycling achievements and public confidence in mind.
  5. Support delivery of the four governments’ ambitions on recycling and resource efficiency, and help gain best results from recycling systems where public confidence is a key factor.

Commitments to transparency

Paul Vanston, INCPEN CEO said: ‘This Public Confidence in Recycling Charter aims to support the public’s increasing desire for information about what happens to recyclates beyond the bin.

‘It’s also about celebrating when councils and the supply chain deliver great recycling results. INCPEN is extremely pleased to co-design the new Charter with the councils partnerships in Kent, Somerset and Surrey.

‘These have long demonstrated their commitments to transparency of public information on recycling, and proved themselves to be among the leaders.

The initial development work by the four organisations will run parallel with the extensive ‘game-changing consultations’ by the UK government and devolved administrations on extended producer responsibility, consistency of recycling collections, and deposit return systems.

Engagement on testing and finalising the Charter will take place with wider sets of stakeholders across the UK. The new Charter is expected to be launched in Autumn 2021.

Knowing and showing what happens to recycling is key to building public trust and driving recycling behaviour change

Councillor Nick Kenton, KRP Chairman and portfolio holder for planning and regulatory services at Dover District Council said: ‘I’m proud to say the KRP has published extensive details of where all of Kent’s recyclates and waste go as far back as 2011. That includes all 13 Kent councils. All 84 private companies who handle Kent’s 711,000 tonnes of materials.

‘76% of that stays in Kent. Just 9.5% goes abroad for recycling. Our recycling rate is touching on 50%, and a mere 1.5% goes to landfill. These figures are backed-up by data to support public confidence in recycling in Kent. What’s needed now is public confidence on a national scale, which is why we’re delighted to be working with INCPEN on the new Public Confidence in Recycling Charter’.

SWP Managing Director, Mickey Green said: ‘Knowing and showing what happens to recycling is key to building public trust and driving recycling behaviour change. That’s why more than a decade ago we were the first waste authority in the country to publish comprehensive details of what happens to our recycling and where it ends up, and why we have done it every year since.

‘Around 98% of what we have collected this year has stayed in the UK. Being able to evidence that, and the carbon savings that go with it, is very powerful. This charter will help strengthen the ‘contract’ we are forging with the public and we look forward to working on it with colleagues from around the country.’

Councillor Neil Dallen, Chairman of the Surrey Environment Partnership said, ‘As public interest continues to grow it’s critical that there is complete transparency about what happens to recycling. This has always been important to us in Surrey and we’ve already seen it pay dividends in our recycling rate which the recent Defra report showed is now at 56%.

‘The more confidence people have in what happens to their recycling the more motivated they are to make the effort. So, we’re delighted to be at the forefront of developing this new charter.’

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