After requesting 200 Freedom of Information Act requests, Sky News has been able to ascertain that fewer than 10 per cent of councils in England and Wales view recycling as mandatory for households.
All councils within England and Wales must offer a recycling service but only a small amount 12 have been found to fine households that fail to recycle.
One such council, Three Rivers Council, introduced smaller landfill bins to encourage more recycling and since 2003, the amount of recycling has risen from 18 per cent to 59 per cent.
Speaking to Sky News, Councillor Phil Brading said that, “We would certainly follow up people who we thought are persistently contaminating their bins with the wrong stuff and we’ve encouraged people not to put recycling in their landfill bins by putting stickers on their bins.”
Chris Murphy, the chief executive of the Charted Institute of Waste Management (CWIM) commented on the issue, saying that:
“Collectively, local authorities have achieved a fourfold increase in recycling in the past 15 years, reshaping this important frontline service to make it easy for people to recycle on their doorstep.
“Enforcement measures, such as so-called ‘compulsory’ schemes and fines, have generally been seen as a last resort, with councils opting instead to use awareness-raising measures to encourage recycling behaviour, coupled with operational ‘nudges’ such as reducing the size of residual waste containers or changing collection frequencies to place a greater emphasis on recycling.”
By 2020 the UK is required to meet a recycling target of 50 per cent and councils across the UK are working on a number of ways to achieve the objective.
Some have introduced fortnightly, or even three and four-weekly residual waste collections, while others have handed out smaller capacity bins.
In April 2016 Manchester City Council introduced ‘slim bins’ that offer the potential of saving £2.4 million every year.
The councils that consider it compulsory to recycle household materials include:
- Derbyshire Dales
- East Lindsey
- Isle of Wight
- Malvern Hills
- St Helens
- Waltham Forest