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Britain could export flat recycling ideas to rest of the world, says industry expert

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Source: Materials Recycling Week

If Britain can solve the problem of flat recycling it can export the idea to the rest of the world, according to Taylor chief executive Peter Selkirk.

Taylor Intelligence is a division of Taylor, a waste and recycling container solution firm. It launched its report entitled Taking recycling to a new level (13 January), which shows that increasing recycling levels among residents in multi-occupancy dwellings is vital if councils are serious about achieving zero waste targets.

Speaking at the launch of this report in London, Selkirk said that as the world urbanises more people will be living in multi-occupancy dwellings, copying western lifestyles and producing more waste. He said that the UK produced six million tonnes of waste from flats and if the UK solved the problem of tackling waste from flats then it could export the idea to the developing world.

Traditionally, local authorities have introduced a blanket recycling service to most flats, which may not be suitable for every block, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme.

Areas with a high proportion of multi-occupancy and high density dwellings can face challenges in introducing a service to residents, such as storage and accessibility problems. For instance, last year, a flats recycling scheme in Hackney in London was modified because it originally proposed kerbside boxes for each flat but on the order of the London Fire Brigade this changed to communal recycling containers outside flats because of fire safety issues.

Selkirk told MRW that three matters needed to be addressed to solve the problems of flat recycling. The first is about proper governance, which means regulations [regulatory structure], in this country it means local authorities having the right targets, the right measures and incentives. Local Government or even national Government is critical to that. In many countries outside of the UK they have not got that right yet. But they are really interested and they want to hear about how to make governance work. You also need public awareness. Half of today’s launch is about public awareness and as a nation we are actually quite knowledgeable about how to use the media to communicate and encourage. And the third issue is about equipment. You need the right equipment, it needs to look good, it needs to lend itself to the kind of behaviour change you are trying to encourage.”

The report from Taylor was carried out by Professor James Baird from the Caledonian Environment Centre and he gathered feedback from residents of 1,000 flats in North Lanarkshire in Scotland. He did this study after the introduction of ‘near entrance’ communal recycling and glass waste collection facilities servicing 8,000 flats (March 2009).

The results show that 68 per cent of the residents surveyed in the area are recycling two to three times per week.

More than 80 per cent of residents are recycling newspapers, 68 per cent plastic bottles and 40 per cent cans. Before the introduction of the project residents had no access to recycling facilities other than those at civic amenity sites or other bring sites.

Taylor Intelligence director Dr David Gillett said that the percentage of the UK’s population living in high-rise flats is due to increase and it was essential that local authorities “have recipes for successful recycling schemes to service these new properties”.

“This report aims to set a blueprint for such services that can be used at the master planning and local development framework planning states.”

Britain could export flat recycling ideas to rest of the world, says industry expert

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