Publishing of Simpler Recycling government response and wider waste reforms

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written statement – made at on 23 October 2023.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Simpler recycling will help us all recycle more easily, doing our bit to help save the planet and make the best use of precious resources that we use every day.

On Saturday 21 October, we published the Government response to the Simpler Recycling consultation (formerly known as Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England)

These new waste reforms make it easier for households and businesses to recycle by introducing a simpler approach to waste collections. This common-sense approach means an end to the post code lottery so, for the first time, people across England will be able to recycle the same materials, as well as get weekly food waste collections. Whatever product you buy with the recycling logo, all your food you don’t use, you will be able to recycle it at home – wherever you live.

In line with the Environment Act 2021, we are requiring all councils to collect seven different types of waste from your doorstep to be recycled - glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, garden and food waste. We will also require councils to collect other residual waste at least fortnightly.

That does not mean households need seven bins though. The areas with the highest recycling rates use just three bins or boxes for every home to collect this already. If it works for those parts of the country, the government thinks that this approach can be undertaken by all councils. To that end, we will be legislating in early 2024 to enable that. It will still be for councils to decide how many bins or boxes they offer households. We have listened to councils and households and as part of the simpler recycling policy, local authorities will have the flexibility to design and implement the reforms that works for their geographical areas and citizens.

We will also bring in stricter laws for those who manage and transport waste in England, and introduce mandatory digital waste tracking across the UK – taking on the dodgy-dealers, rogue-operators, and fly-tipping cowboy criminals who blight our countryside and cost our economy £1 billion every year.

Alongside Simpler Recycling, we are also cracking down on waste crime to prevent illegal waste from blighting our communities and damaging the environment. Across England, we will be bringing in stricter regulations for those who manage and transport waste (carriers, brokers and dealers), as well as introducing mandatory digital waste tracking across the UK, using powers in the Environment Act to overhaul existing waste record keeping.

As set out in our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy, we will go further and faster to reduce, reuse, and recycle more of our waste and resources, helping to leave the environment in a better state than we found it for future generations.

Together these measures will help us to achieve our 25 Year Environment Plan commitment to eliminate avoidable waste by 2050, our Environment Act target to halve the amount of residual waste we produce per person by 2042, and our recycling ambition of recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2035.

Simpler Recycling will significantly contribute to the Net Zero Strategy commitment to, ‘explore options for the near elimination of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill from 2028.’ This policy will be the main contributor to reducing residual municipal food waste per capita by the equivalent of 50% from 2019 levels, set out in the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP).

The Government remains committed to delivering the environmental benefits of its Resources and Waste package of reforms.