Recycling rates for paper and cardboard packaging have dropped from a peak of 80 percent in 2017 to 65 percent in 2020, according to data from the U.K.-based Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).
DS Smith, a packaging producer headquartered in London, reports that if the U.K. could recycle this material into new packaging papers instead of sending it to landfills or incineration, it could be worth up to 2 billion pounds (or about $2.8 billion), based on research from CPI. DS Smith says the U.K. is facing a “creaking recycling infrastructure” and complex local recycling rules.
According to a news release from DS Smith, the company makes 20 billion boxes a year and advocates separate collections for paper and cardboard to improve the quality and quantity of recycling.
“As Europe’s largest recycler of paper and cardboard, we have committed to manufacturing 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2023 and are acutely aware of the huge responsibilities we face in protecting the environment and reducing waste,” says Miles Roberts, group CEO at DS Smith. “But we can only do this efficiently if we all play our part in managing resources more effectively and make it as easy as possible for people to recycle properly in their home, otherwise we risk serious economic and environmental consequences for generations to come.
He continues, “If we are to truly build back better, separate collections of paper and card are a critical step forward in creating a modern recycling system that secures green investment, helps the U.K. reach its climate goals and adapts to the huge new trends in consumer behavior.”
Currently, England has 300 recycling schemes, according to Keep Britain Tidy. The company says it welcomes the U.K.’s recent consultation on making recycling collections consistent but that the nation might benefit from separating collections of paper scrap from other materials, such as what has been done in other parts of Europe, including Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
The company says, “Separate collections would also pave the way for standardized recycling labels on all packaging and collection bins to better inform consumers what materials can be recycled and where.”