Recycling: what is Britain doing wrong?

Sweden has been in the news for all the right reasons in recent months thanks to its immense recycling programs. The Scandanavian country’s revolutionary system means only one per cent of waste has been sent to landfill every year since 2011. Even other countries send their waste to Sweden so its recycling plants have something to do! Sadly, in the UK we are nowhere near this efficient. In fact, we are one of those countries that pays Sweden to recycle our rubbish for us! As of 2014, recycling in the UK made up around 45 per cent of all waste, not nearly enough. So how can we decrease the waste we’re creating in Britain?

Things the government could do:

  • Heavier taxes on fossil fuels: to discourage the use of coal, oil and natural gas, Sweden implemented high taxation on the use of fossil fuels in the early nineties. The result was a drive to use renewable energy and now half of its electricity is from renewable sources.
  • A set national strategy: In the UK each region has its owen recycling systen. If the guidelines are nationalised, everyone will know what materials can be recycled rather than being chucked in the bin.

Things you can do:

  • Remember that every plastic bottle can be recycled from shower gel to soft drink bottles.
  • Know where you’re local recycling plant is.
  • Upcycle! Upcycle! Upcycle!


For more on recycling, check out this cool infographic from issue 73 of How It Works. Back issues are available here.

Recycling: what is Britain doing wrong?