The recycling minister Rebecca Pow has said while there is “much to do” to increase public trust in the recycling system, she is confident the waste reforms being introduced by government will address this.
Mrs Pow was speaking a webinar organised by the Green Alliance in partnership with Viridor, called: Recycling in the UK: what do people think?
It further discussed results from Viridor’s Recycling Index poll, which was published yesterday, 22 September (seeletsrecycle.com story).
The poll of 8,000 consumers was carried out by researcher YouGov for Viridor.
It showed that only 8% of respondents have a “great deal” of trust in the national government in ensuring recycling happens properly, with 5% trusting businesses and 19% for the waste management sector.
Mrs Pow said that the measures outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) will help to address this.
“The study touched on some key points and covered some informative data which I think consolidates a lot of our views. It is great to see them presented like that.
“I think it’s heartening that the consumer concern for the environment has increased, this is very welcome. At the same time I acknowledge that the public would like to see business and government earn trust on the environment, to increase recycling rates.
“I’m confident that the waste reforms we’re introducing will address the issues highlighted. I think the RWS is a solid strategy with a lot in it that will deliver the direction of travel we need. The stakeholder engagements we have been holding show this.”
Mrs Pow went on to say that many of the measures will be featured on the Environment Bill, which will “return to parliament shortly” and further consultations will be held “in 2021”.
She added: “Whilst it is clear there is much to do, I am confident we can overcome the challenges. There has never been a more exciting time to work in resources and waste. There are huge opportunities which can be harnessed, and need to be, and government is putting policies in place to enable this to happen.”
Mrs Pow followed on from Tim Rotheray, innovation and regulation director at Viridor. He said that one of the key ways to boost public trust in the system and increase recycling rates is to ensure recycling facilities are built across the UK.
“We need to look at how we as a sector can build trust with the public. I think it’s clear that if people see the infrastructure being built in their own communities to recycle, and not just HWRCs, then this will help.
“They will see plastic and glass recycling reprocessing units near their homes. This is how we will build trust that recycling is actually taking place,” he explained.
Mr Rotheray added: “So, what does that really mean for us in terms of where we go next? The government has encouraging policy and the RWS has been hugely ambitious. This is a key policy document for us, another key issue we need to ensure happens is that it delivers investment, this is critical.”
Other speakers at the event included Shirley Rodrigues, London’s deputy mayor for environment, who highlighted that she wants to do more to capitalise on the fact that people want to do more, and said EPR regulations will increase trust and encourage better resource management.