Recycled waste piles up Saturday, November 29, 2008
The economic downturn has apparently led to a big drop in demand for recycled materials such as used paper, plastic and aluminum.
The Telegraph reports today that Councils are being forced to store collected recycling materials that they can't sell on. As a result some Councils are abandoning recycling collections and withdrawing drop-off points.
At a time when enthusiasm for recycling is high and Councils have been set targets by Government, the market collapse will sadly undermine environmentally-friendly efforts.
Whilst fiscal subsidies to encourage use of recycled material could be introduced, they would be costly at a time of ballooning Government debt. Moreover, most consumption of such materials has been in China, so domestic UK subsidy would be ineffective.
Alternatively, the Government could tax non-recycled items (or those without a min recycled element e.g. 30% of packaging) to incentivise the market, under a green tax heading. Whilst fraught with compliance complications and possible unexpected outcomes, it may be essential to achieve environmental targets and reduce stockpiles.