In the UK, mixed recycling boxes or bags, where all recyclable materials are “commingled”, are rapidly becoming the norm: the theory is that it’s quick and easy for householders to throw all recyclable materials into one container, and electronic sorting processes mean the waste can be separated centrally for recycling.
However, according to the European Recovered Paper Council, commingled waste collections are leading to high levels of contamination, such as broken glass in among paper waste, causing damage to paper mills. In the worst case scenarios, companies give up and the waste ends up back in the landfill. The problem has got so bad that paper recycling organisation the International Association of the Deinking Industry (INGEDE) has taken the step of writing to UK Councils, asking them to put an end to commingling recyclable waste.
The UK has been successful in increasing recycling rates in the last few years, but there is still a long way to go. It’s a shame for us to keep lagging behind the rest of Europe.