Many of us have already been through a variety of changes to way in which our household waste is collected and the manner in which we have been encouraged to recycle. Although the results have been impressive, further improvements are being targeted for 2012.

Local councils across England and Wales have been pursuing some quite ambitious targets for waste recycling over recent years and as a result almost all UK householders have experienced big changes in the frequency and manner in which their household waste is collected. Councils like Surrey, for example, are already well ahead of the curve, while other inner city councils have more challenging situations to contend with. The targets have also affected business waste collection and other waste disposal businesses such as skip hire companies and landfill operators. Everyone is facing increased pressure to both cut down waste generation and improve recycling levels.

A government paper released earlier this year illustrated the successes to date with an increase of nearly 40 per cent in the level of household waste recycling between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, with over 40 per cent of waste now being recycled. Commercial and industrial waste amounts to double that of household waste and over 50 per cent of that was recycled in 2009. We hope that, although accurate figures are somewhat delayed for this sector, 2011 statistics will show further improvements.

The initiatives now being driven by the government include a higher frequency and improved quality of household rubbish collection services, campaigns to reduce the amount of food waste and changes that will help people to recycle on-the-go in towns, villages, cities and public places. Household waste collection services had seen frequency reductions over recent years, with some areas only benefiting from fortnightly collections, but the government has decided that this should change and revert to weekly collections. The government will also get rid of some odd incentives that worked to encourage local authorities to degrade waste collection services, plus there will be improved monitoring activities to measure success and protect all parties involved.

Skip hire companies are already subject to strict recycling legislation and through increased charges and levies, put pressure on their customers to dispose of waste more responsibly. It is interesting that although the UK is a net importer of goods from overseas, our net export of waste for recycling is not in step and the government is considering other measures to bring this back into balance.

The changes predicted for 2012 are expected to create over £1 billion worth of savings by 2020, prevent almost 20 million tonnes of landfill and save almost 15 million tonnes of raw materials.

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