Defra announces its 'Simpler Recycling' scheme

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs announced plans for its ‘Simpler Recycling’ scheme over the weekend (21 October). After a recent decline in recycling across England, the Government aims to simplify recycling, with all local authorities using the same recycling streams by March 2026.
Defra announces its 'Simpler Recycling' scheme
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Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs announced plans for its ‘Simpler Recycling’ scheme over the weekend (21 October). After a recent decline in recycling across England, the Government aims to simplify the system, with all local authorities using the same recycling streams by March 2026. In their consultation summary, Defra said:

We want to make it easier for people to do the right thing, maximise use, minimise waste and drive up recycling rates.

At the Conservative party conference earlier this month, Rishi Sunak announced the scrapping of proposed “burdensome” recycling schemes where households could have up to “seven bins”. With the new scheme, households will have three bins including dry recycling, food waste and residual waste, with “most” households to have a weekly food waste collection and a fortnightly residual waste collection.

The scheme also includes a co-mingled recycling service, where all dry recycling is collected at once. It is hoped that this will ease recycling collections for local authorities. The dry recycling will then be sorted into recyclable waste streams, which include paper and card, plastic, glass, metal, food waste, and garden waste. The Government also hope that compulsory food waste will help eliminate biodegradable waste sent to landfill by 2028. As well as the new recycling systems, there will also be an introduction of mandatory recyclability labelling on packaging, to extend producer responsibility and help the public make more informed choices on where their waste goes. Defra said, “these reforms will mean that people can recycle the same items at home, work or school throughout England.”

Many in the Energy from Waste sector welcome the news of a streamlined recycling system, and chief executive of Encyclis, Owen Michaelson noted the scheme will help efforts to decarbonise the UK. However, the announcement has received mixed reviews from those across the waste and environment sectors. The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) expressed ‘deep disappointment’ in the Government’s decision to not introduce separate paper and card collections. The argue that the government is prioritising “quick and easy wins to increase recycling rates”, and that not separating the two materials will lead to an increase in contamination and deter investment in the paper recycling sector. The Government hope for these changes to be in place across England by March 2026.

Find the Government's response to the consultation here. 

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