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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Recycling 'too complex' for many
Rubbish collection (Image: Wates)
More councils are expanding kerb-side recycling collection schemes
Households in the UK would recycle more waste if it was easier to understand what rubbish can and cannot be recycled, a survey has suggested.

Of those questioned, 88% said they were already putting a proportion of their weekly waste into green bins.

But almost half said they were confused about what materials could be recycled.

The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of City & Guilds, which has launched new qualifications to help improve the skills of recycling staff.

The survey's findings were based on responses from 2,423 householders interviewed between March and April.

Staff at waste sorting centres said people were often unknowingly putting out the wrong sorts of plastics, resulting in bottlenecks in the recycling process.

John Birch, waste recycling expert for City & Guilds, said the new awards, NVQs in Recycling Operations, would help employees keep pace with developments in the fast-growing sector.

"As more councils and households increase their waste recycling effort, staff in the UK are facing more duties and responsibilities than ever before.

"Some even deal directly with householders who fail to comply with waste separation requirements, "Mr Birch added. "That's why we have developed the recycling qualification."

Better information

Philip Ward, a director of Waste and Resources Action Plan (Wrap), hoped the scheme would improve the quality of information available to people.

"More and more of us are getting into the recycling habit but sometimes we have questions about how and what can be recycled," he said.

"This will help council front-line staff answer those questions, making the service as easy and straightforward as possible."

Households in England recycled 23% of their waste in 2004-05, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Wrap, which runs the government's national "Recycle Now" campaign, said up to 60% of rubbish could be recycled.

The Landfill Directive requires EU member states to cut the amount of biodegradable municipal waste being sent to landfill sites. It requires a 25% reduction on 1995 levels by 2010, and a 65% cut by 2020.

A report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) earlier this year warned that many councils in England were in danger of missing these targets.

The NAO report said councils could face fines of 40m a year by 2010, rising to 205m a year by 2013.

A growing number of local authorities have extended kerb-side collection schemes to include organic waste, such as food and grass cuttings.

Ministers are expected to publish a revised waste strategy later in the year, setting out the government's plans for the next 20 years.

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