According to a report published by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the public are frustrated by the complexities surrounding recycling.
The NIC highlighted that 79 per cent of people that didn’t currently own a food waste bin would recycle food waste given the opportunity.
The study also found that it is cheaper to collect food waste separately and process it in anaerobic digesters rather than send it to energy from waste (EfW) facilities.
The NIC said: “The Commission’s analysis shows universal food waste collection would avoid the need to build between one and three energy from waste plants between now and 2050. It would save up to £400m in capital costs and £1.1bn in operational costs for local authorities in total between 2020 and 2050.”
Another form of recycling that the report covered was plastics and it called for tough targets, including 75 per cent to be recycled by 2030.
In doing so, this would mitigate the need to build additional waste management infrastructures.
It said that better packaging design, clearer labelling, and fewer harder to recycle plastics alongside tougher targets could all reduce residual waste.
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “It is in everyone’s interest to cut the amount of rubbish we produce and the NIC rightly determines that more should be done to recycle and remove plastics from energy from waste.”
He continued, saying that: “This should be done at the design stage through strong policies that favour better design, recycling, re-use and minimisation. These policies would signal the government’s ambition to the market and unlock the billions of investment required to make the most of our waste.”
The report also covers a range of topics including carbon emissions and transport.
Speaking about ways to reduce carbon, the NIC said: “In the waste sector, too, there are lower cost, lower carbon options especially for food waste and plastics. There is public support for greater recycling, but frustration with the complexity of the process.”
Chairman of the NIC, Sir John Armitt, stated as part of the release that the targets are not unreasonable.
“The whole purpose of the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment is to think beyond the technologies of today and to ensure we can make the most of future innovations. It’s why it’s not just a one-off but something we will be repeating every five years to ensure we remain on the front foot.”