UK Zero Waste Policy Might Mean Waaaaay Too Many Sort Bins


Photo via Samuel Mann via Flickr CC

The UK is looking to tighten up their zero waste policy, which means sorting will start at home. However, that also means that households could be required to use as many as 6 bins to properly sort materials. The Telegraph reports, "The majority of homes will have a slop bucket for food scraps alongside separate bins for glass, plastic bottles and packaging, cardboard, paper, tin, and garden waste - as well as a black bin for the small amount of rubbish that must be burned or sent to landfill."

This seems excessive, but to cut down on the amount of time, space and funding that goes into sorting rubbish on a municipal level, it makes some sense. However, items would still have to be sorted since not everyone will be perfect about sorting the right items into the right bins. Each council can decide how things will be sorted, and can introduce fines for improperly sorted items, which would be a good incentive for households to be sort-savvy.

In San Francisco, we have a highly successful three bin sorting system. Green is for compostables, blue is for recyclables, and black is for everything else. Only two types of trucks are needed to collect materials - one for blue and black bins, and one for green bins. Not saying this is how everyone should do it...or, almost not saying that, anyway. But it certainly works really well and the city has reached over 70% waste diversion, with a goal of 100% in just a few years. All with little to no headache for households.

No matter how it is done, Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said every council will be expected to have "full recycling services" by 2020 - which is plenty of time to get a system worked out - and hopefully one that doesn't have citizens neurotic about their bins. Six is a bit excessive and impractical. Unless it looks as slick as this:


Photo via David McKelvey via Flickr CC

"We must now work together to build a zero waste nation - where we reduce the resources we use, reuse and recycle all that we can and only landfill things that have absolutely no other use," Benn said.

It's a notion that we should consider a no-brainer and should globally be working toward..."should" being the operative word. Hopefully we won't have to wait until 2020 to see zero waste policies in action all over the place. It just might be the case, as the Telegraph reports that the EU could impose fines of up to £180 million on the country if councils fail to shrink down how much waste goes to landfill.

However, there are skeptics: Doretta Cocks, of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said it was impossible to recycle everything. "Zero waste is a wonderful idea but it I cannot see anyway they could ever achieve it."

Let's cross our fingers that she's wrong.

More on Zero Waste Policies
A Challenge For Toronto: Go Zero Waste
Recycling is Bullshit; Make Nov. 15 Zero Waste Day, not America Recycles Day
First Zero Waste Zone in the Southeast Announced in Downtown Atlanta
Footprints in Waste Management: Taking Steps toward Zero Waste

Tags: Recycling | United Kingdom | Zero Waste