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Simpler bin collections for England to boost recycling

A new, common-sense approach to recycling will make bin day simpler and boost recycling rates for the nation, Recycling Minister Robbie Moore announced today (9 May).

New simpler recycling collections will see the same materials collected from homes, workplaces and schools, ending the confusing patchwork of different approaches across England.

Today the government has set out how the drive to better and simpler recycling will work, listening to councils who want to avoid streets cluttered with bins while doing what is best for the local community. Councils will be allowed to collect plastic, metal, glass, paper and card in one bin in all circumstances. Similarly, food and garden waste will also be allowed to be co-collected.

This will reduce confusion over what items can be recycled, as people will no longer have to check what their specific council will accept for recycling. It will also reduce complexity for councils and other waste collectors, ensuring they retain the flexibility to collect recyclable waste in the most appropriate way for their local areas.

Additionally, the Government is supporting more frequent and comprehensive bin collections. A minimum backstop means councils will be expected to collect black bin waste at least fortnightly, alongside weekly food waste collections. This will stop the trend – seen outside England – towards three-weekly or four-weekly bin collections. Councils are also being actively encouraged to make collections even more frequent, to prevent smelly waste from building up outside homes.

Together, these new proposals will ensure regular and simpler bin collections from people’s homes across England – making recycling simpler for everyone.

Recycling Minister Robbie Moore said:

We all want to do our bit to increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill – but a patchwork of different bin collections across England means it can be hard to know what your council will accept.

Our plans for Simpler Recycling will end that confusion: ensuring that the same set of materials will be collected regardless of where you live.

Paul Vanston, CEO of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), said:

Householders can take this government announcement as a pledge that, wherever we live across the nation, our local councils will all speedily implement recycling collections of the full range of materials that will match on-pack recycling labels citizens rely on for guidance.

Those paying the very substantial costs for councils’ local packaging recycling services – especially citizens, brands and retailers – can rightly set high benchmarks of great customer service, superb packaging recycling performance and demonstrable value-for-money being achieved everywhere.

The plans will apply to all homes in England, including flats. Similar measures will apply to non-household municipal premises, including businesses, hospitals, schools and universities.

As well as these developments, the list of premises in scope of these requirements has been expanded. Places of worship, penal institutes, charity shops, hostels and public meeting places will all come under the scope of the Simpler Recycling regulations.

This update builds on wider efforts to increase recycling and reduce waste. New restrictions on single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers came into force on 1 October 2023 in order to reduce plastic pollution and keep streets clean. We are also moving forward with the implementation of our Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers and our Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging to boost recycling and clamp down on plastic pollution and litter. 

At the beginning of 2024 we confirmed that disposable vapes will be banned in the UK to protect children’s health and tackle the environmental impact of these items.

We have already introduced a ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, restrictions on the supply of single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, and our world-leading Plastic Packaging Tax.

Meanwhile, our single-use plastic carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by over 97% in the main supermarkets.

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