February 3rd, 2017

Down on recycling: England’s recycling rate

by Peter Jones

 

The recent downtick in England’s household recycling rate has led to wailing and gnashing of teeth in some quarters, and something more like gloating in others. However, there has been little examination of what the numbers tell us about what underlies the change, and thus the appropriate policy responses.

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October 28th, 2016

Are councils driving waste on the road to nowhere?

by Neil Grundon

 

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher took a scythe to a bloated and unproductive public sector with the introduction of ‘Compulsory Competitive Tendering’ (CCT). Like most things Thatcher did, it was divisive but effective, and eventually undone by its dogmatic application to everything. For Grundon, it opened up a huge opportunity, although not quite in the way we originally planned.

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October 14th, 2016

Rejected hypotheses: analysing England’s recycling data

by Peter Jones and Andy Grant

 

Is the increase in recycling rejects in England due to an increase in the amount of contamination in recycling bins, caused by growing confusion amongst the public? Last month we identified a couple of other possibilities that would also explain the 184,000 tonne rise: better data capture, or better sorting at materials recycling facilities (MRFs). However, we didn’t attempt to assess which is the most plausible. In this article, we begin that tricky task.

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October 7th, 2016

Back to MRF: rejects and contamination

by Andy Grant and Peter Jones

 

When we wrote last month about the possible causes of the rise in reported recycling rejects, one of the concerns we raised was that materials recycling facilities (MRFs) have historically underreported rejects. We also highlighted the concerns reprocessors have in the past expressed regarding the quality of MRF outputs.

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September 23rd, 2016

Myth takes – “It all just gets sent to China”

by Peter Jones

 

There seems to be a lurking suspicion out there that most of the UK’s recycling gets sent to China. People complain that this is a farcical state of affairs which negates the value of recycling. Some seem to think that, once recycling gets to China, it’s more likely to be buried or burned than recycled. Do these ideas have little any basis in reality?

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September 9th, 2016

Can we sort out the contamination confusion?

by Peter Jones and Andy Grant

 

The latest flurry of disparagement around the 2014/15 stats on local authority recycling rejects provides an unfortunate reminder that this is a confusing topic. Indeed, it seems it is easy to misunderstand even if, like the Daily Mail and Daily Express, you’ve had it explained to you at length.

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May 6th, 2016

Myth-takes – “You can sort it all with machines”

by Luke Dale-Harris and Peter Jones

 

Not long ago, The Spectator gave over a page to decry the plight of poor Mrs Ware, the “frail, elderly mother” of the article’s author, Michael. Mrs Ware, he wrote:

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