Simplifying recycling

Recycling waste has long been viewed as key to supporting sustainability and climate action and Dundee City Council (DCC) like other councils across the UK runs kerbside recycling services. There are however challenges around recycling, perhaps most notably high levels of contamination in bins across the city, especially in tenements and multistorey buildings. These high contamination levels lead to increased energy expenditure for DCC as they separate recyclables from non-recyclables. This in turn increases emissions and feeds into global warming which in turn impacts on public health.

Globally, climate change has been identified as a critical public health problem. Desertification, degradation of ecosystems and acidification of our oceans are just a few of the consequences of increasing temperatures. Pests and diseases are spreading to new regions making existing diseases worse and weather extremes lead to loss of life and injury. Emissions also reduce air quality which in turn can negatively impact on underlying conditions such as asthma. Whilst we may not be directly impacted day to day in Dundee by these issues associated with climate change, there is very much a need for us to think globally and act locally. Acting to improve recycling in Dundee is one local action we can take.

The Challenge

One of the issues contributing to bin contamination is recycling confusion. People get confused by council regions having different rules about recycling. By which bin to use. By the fact that some plastics can be recycled, and others can’t and being unsure whether all food packaging must be cleaned before recylcing.

Are there ways that we can simplify recycling? Are there other barriers to recycling that contribute to bin contamination? How can these barriers be overcome?