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A critical analysis of the barriers to recycling


It is estimated that the UK recycling rate varies between 45 to 47% and has repeatedly failed to reach the target of 65% established by the post-Brexit Resource and Waste Strategy. Understanding the causes of the low recycling rates in cities of metropolitan size within the United Kingdom will help to overcome the challenges of recycling. The report examines the current situation regarding the recycling rate and amount of waste generated within the United Kingdom based on available secondary data on the flow of waste and examines the various barriers to recycling at home. A variety of areas that contribute to the challenges of recycling have been identified, such as restrictions on waste policies, the absence effectiveness in communication and public involvement physical barriers, constraints to service as well as socio-economic obstacles.

The review of the literature reveals that waste policy, communication and physical barriers were the primary factors that influence recycling rates or output. The conclusion is that a multi-dimension approach is required, that includes an in-depth review of the waste policies, more rigorous enforcement system of the law, a better communication strategy, as well as an integrated plan development policy to address the issues that affect the UK’s recycle rate and output. This strategy will push local authorities to start or begin efficient recycling management, and create the required infrastructure that will facilitate efficient recycling.


In 2008 in 2008, the European Union (EU) Waste Framework Directive (WFD) 2008/98/EC establishes a recycling goal of 50% for the member states in 2020 ( European Commission, 2020). The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 thereafter transformed to the EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) as a law within England as well as Wales. The UK government took over the environmental policy control from the EU following Brexit and implemented an ambitious Resource and Waste Strategy to create a circular economy in England. The Resource and Waste Strategy for England 2018 has a new goal for recycling of 65% municipal waste that must be met in 2035 ( Local Government Association 2018, 2018).

The recycling rates of local authorities’ rates are calculated from required waste returns that are submitted from all the local governments on a fiscal year basis. These reports are available on the Waste Dataflow portal, which is managed through the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It is the National Indicator (NI) 192 formula ( equation (1)) ( Communities and Local Government, 2007) is utilized to calculate the percentage of household waste that is sent to reuse recycling, composting and recycling in each local government. This is used to get the league table of recycling rates.

where where Xis the amount of recycling, reuse composting, anaerobic digestion or reuse of household waste and Yis Yi is the overall weight of household waste disposed.

The X and Y numbers depend on the name for the authority. For instance, the case may be. It could be a waste collection agency (WCA) or an authority for disposal of waste (WDA) or an unifying authorities (UA).

According to the most up-to-date waste flow statistics according to the latest waste flow statistics, according to the most recent data on waste flow, United Kingdom generated around 27 million tonnes annually as well as the recycle rate stood of 46% as of the year 2019 ( DEFRA, 2020a). Household waste is disposed of by local authorities of 408 in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Table 1 illustrates the various tonnages of waste generated by each devolved authority, and the figure 1 illustrates the recycling rate of each. Wales boasts the top recycling rate at 54%, but has a smaller amount of waste. England has the largest amount of household waste while Northern Ireland has the lowest quantity.

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Jane S. King

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