Revenue from the proposed 5p plastic carrier bag levy in England should be re-invested into a public awareness campaign to boost recycling rates across the UK, according to re-processor ECO Plastics.
The call comes as the coalition government’s plans to introduce legislation for a bag levy this year were outlined in the Queen’s Speech, with retailers expected to donate revenue from the charge to ‘good causes’.
Government has said the legislation will require organisations to publish data showing customers what the proceeds are being used for.
In addition, DCLG minister Brandon Lewis hit the headlines this week when it emerged he did not know if pots, tubs and trays could be recycled by his local council in Norfolk, leading to suggestions too many people and politicians are confused about the recycling process.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast television, Lewis suggested such materials could be collected for recycling at his Great Yarmouth constituency home, but it later transpired the council does not recycle pots, tubs and trays.
As a result, founder and deputy chairman of recycler ECO Plastics, Johnathan Short, called for revenue from the bag levy to be spent on a communications campaign to boost public knowledge of recycling – and therefore also recycling rates, he argues.
“Revenue from the 5p plastic bag charge should be invested in a public awareness campaign to increase household recycling across the UK for the economic and environmental benefit of local communities,” said Short. “Recycled waste is valuable and communities should be benefiting from it, yet the greatest barrier to effective recycling is still public confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.”
Plastics sector body Recoup has also previously highlighted confusion among householders about the type of plastics that can be recycled in the home. It published research in March based on a survey of 4,000 people, which showed many were uncertain about whether some plastics products could be put out for council collection.
ECO Plastics’ Short added: “Research shows people recycle more when they understand what can be recycled, where it goes, what it becomes and how it benefits the local community. A crystal clear communications campaign to get this information to every household is essential if we are to drive up recycling rates and meet our national recycling targets. ECO Plastics urges the revenue to be invested in projects like Recoup’s ‘Plastics Please’ campaign, set to launch later this year, and get Britain recycling more.”