The rates of recycling across the United Kingdom have recently decreased to pre-2012 levels. According to statistics recorded by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), this is the first time recycling rates have dropped since we begun to record these statistics. Although this decrease is not a dramatic leap, this is certainly a step in the wrong direction.
The environmental movement that begun in the 1970s brought forward the concept of recycling that was previously thought to alter the preconceptions of our future for the better. As recycling rates begun to rise annually and recycling statistics within the UK were positive, it seemed to be a slow but sure method of creating an eco-friendly and more sustainable environment for us to live in.
50% of the material recycled within the UK is transported across the world to be reused in alternate ways. These materials are often transformed into downgraded products and materials, rather than being reconstructed to a natural state of raw material. If we were to keep these exported materials, we would have more eco-friendly resources to manufacture within the UK, keeping down costs and our carbon footprint.
Air pollution, in regards to the environmental effects of paper production, can be decreased by a major 75% when the materials used to create paper have been recycled. This alternative method of production offers a comparable end product to the non-eco alternative of using virgin fibres. According to the statistics produced by Recycled Papers Manufacture, ‘The main raw material used to manufacture recycled paper is waste paper. We use post-consumer waste paper which means it has been used by the customer for its final use. It takes approximately 1.2 tonnes of waste paper to produce 1 tonne of recycled paper. It would take around 2.5 tonnes of wood to produce the equivalent virgin paper fibres’. There is still a mass demand for paper, especially within businesses and schools, thus meaning there is vast a requirement for millions of metric tonnes of paper to be produced each year. As we have found that using recycled raw materials as an eco-friendly alternative to be a success, it may only be a matter of time until we begin to move over to an environmentally cleaner substitute to paper production.
The current target for the United Kingdom is to recycle a minimum of 50% of its waste by the year 2020. There are hundreds of different materials and products that can be recycled and reused, not only will this construct a more sustainable environment for the UK, it can also produce more jobs in the manufacturing and recycling industry.