Boris Johnson has mentioned “recycling isn’t the answer” in terms of tackling waste and local weather change – so ought to we nonetheless trouble washing out each final yoghurt pot?
Forward of COP26, the UN’s local weather summit, the prime minster sat down with WWF UK’s chief government Tanya Steele to reply schoolchildren’s local weather change questions.
A pupil advised the PM that she makes use of a recyclable toothbrush and reusable water bottle, and requested what extra she and others may do to guard the planet.
“The difficulty with plastics, is that recycling isn’t the reply, I’ve bought to be sincere with you,” Johnson replied.
“You’re not going to love this, however recycling doesn’t start to deal with the issue. You may solely recycle plastic a few instances. And what you’ve bought to do is cease the manufacturing of plastic, cease the primary use of plastic. Recycling is a pink herring.”
Steele shortly added: “We’ve got to scale back, we’ve got to reuse – I do assume we have to do some little bit of recycling, PM, and have some system to take action.”
The feedback have divided environmental campaigners, which doesn’t precisely assist the typical shopper making an attempt to make greener decisions.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, applauded the prime minister’s stance. “We’ve got been swallowing the parable about recycling plastic for many years and it’s time to get up to the very fact there aren’t any recycling fairies,” she mentioned in a press release.
However Simon Ellin, chief government of the Recycling Affiliation, referred to as the feedback “very disappointing”.
“I assume he has fully misplaced the plastic plot right here, if I’m sincere,” he advised BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme. “We have to cut back and I would fully agree with him on that, however his personal authorities has simply invested within the assets and waste technique, which is probably the most ground-breaking recycling laws and plan that we’ve ever seen, with recycling proper on the entrance of it.”
So, ought to we proceed to recycle? Or are our efforts barely making an affect?
Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP – which works with governments, companies, and communities to enhance useful resource effectivity around the globe – says sure, recycling on a person degree remains to be price it.
“Recycling does work and is a essential a part of tackling local weather change,” he tells HuffPost UK. “It takes 75% much less vitality to provide a plastic bottle made out of recycled content material in comparison with new plastic.”
Analysis from WRAP suggests UK recycling saves 18 million tonnes of CO2 yearly and 9 out of 10 UK folks at the moment are recycling. Nevertheless, Gover does agree with Johnson that we “have to do extra with much less”.
“That applies to single use packaging as a lot as anything,” he says. “After all we should be cautious that there aren’t any unexpected penalties and that lowering packaging doesn’t trigger extra harm to the planet, via extra meals waste, for instance. Ensuring that the packaging we’d like is recyclable does make an enormous distinction.
“Recycling packaging within the UK helps to restrict local weather change, cut back air pollution and create jobs. It’s good for folks, planet and pocket.”
Maja Darlington, plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, agrees that recycling received’t clear up the difficulty of local weather change – however that doesn’t imply folks ought to cease doing it.
“The prime minister is true. Recycling alone will not be the silver bullet that can clear up our plastic downside. The UK remains to be one of many main drivers of the worldwide plastic disaster, producing extra plastic waste per particular person than every other nation besides the USA,” she tells HuffPost UK. “We will be unable to recycle our approach out of this mess. We have to flip off the faucet of plastic air pollution, and transfer to a system which prioritises reuse.”
People ought to proceed recycling although, she provides, as a result of it does make a distinction. Nevertheless, coping with the difficulty of overproduction would make a larger distinction and have probably the most significant affect.
“The federal government has the ability to kind this out now. We hope that the prime minister will flip the rhetoric into motion and set a 50% single use plastic discount goal within the Surroundings Invoice,” she says.
“If the federal government acts to drive supermarkets and corporations like Coke to scale back their plastic manufacturing, our recycling system will probably be extra environment friendly, and there can be no excuse to export or incinerate our plastic.”