Resource Use

DS Smith demands recycling infrastructure reform

Packaging company DS Smith has called for further recycling infrastructure investment in the UK. This appeal comes in the wake of new research by DS Smith that concludes the UK is in the midst of a recycling crisis.

DS Smith’s study has found that almost half (49 per cent) of UK households are completely running out of room in their recycling bins. A quarter say that this happens every fortnight, if not more frequently.

DS Smith upscaled recycling binBin overflow is symptomatic of the drastic changes to living circumstances and shopping trends caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lockdown has seen a sharp surge in online shopping, with 70 per cent of Brits reporting that they have shopped online more since the first lockdown in March 2020.

Nearly half (48 per cent) stated that this increase in online shopping accounted for the overflowing of their recycling bins.

Furthermore, 64 per cent of those who saw an escalation in their recycling put the onus on the increased time spent at home since the pandemic began.

DS Smith’s research shows that these trends are not set to change, with 83 per cent of Brits planning to shop online at the same level or more post-lockdown.

A survey conducted by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) found that employers expect that the proportion of people working from home on a regular basis once the pandemic is over will increase to 37 per cent, compared to a previous 18 per cent.

As working from home has been forecasted to continue, DS Smith is urging the Government to adapt the country’s recycling infrastructure to these changes.

Managing Director of Recycling at DS Smith, Rogier Gerritsen, commented: “We applaud the Government for its ambitious recycling targets, but at the moment we’re not on track: based on current recycling trends our data suggests that we’ll only meet the 65 per cent recycling target for municipal waste in 2048, over 10 years too late.

“As part of plans to build back better, we need to work together to build a consistent recycling infrastructure that has separate collections at the very heart of it – specifically separate collections for paper and cardboard. This would help accelerate the UK closer to its recycling aspirations.”

DS Smith advises that next steps should reflect the trends brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and meets the population’s recycling needs.

This research discovered that 47 per cent of Brits say their recycling facilities need to be bigger and 12 per cent admit to putting excess recycling in the rubbish bin due to recycling overflow.

In addition to this, more information about what can and cannot be recycled is needed, according to 70 per cent of those surveyed.

Moreover, 74 per cent of people reported concern around the impact of excess waste on the environment, while 38 per cent were worried that their recycling is not being dealt with properly, and ends up in the landfill or being incinerated.

As a result, DS Smith advises that consistent and regular recycling collections and a standardised recycling label system would prove beneficial.

Such alterations would provide the consumer clarity on where materials should be recycled.

This research follows DS Smith’s own commitment to recycling with a transition towards a circular economy. Last year, DS Smith launched its sustainability strategy for the next ten years, with the aim of boosting its own sustainability agenda.