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Recycling

Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of (a) the effectiveness of recycling markets and (b) the impact of volatile commodity prices on the viability of the country's recycling strategies. (247904)

The UK has tripled the amount of household waste it recycles in the last 10 years, and on the back of this there is a growing recycling and reprocessing industry in the UK, particularly for materials such as glass, newsprint and plastic bottles. Not all of the materials collected for recycling are re-processed into products in the UK: some are re-processed abroad, reflecting trends in the global economy. As with all commodities, the prices for recyclable materials rise and fall according to supply and demand. In the current economic downturn, demand for raw materials—including recyclable waste—has declined, leading to a fall in prices.

The Government are monitoring the situation closely, working with the Waste and Resources Action Programme, the Local Government Association, the Environment Agency, the waste management industry and others. According to the best available information, markets for recycled materials have stabilised, though at lower prices. Recycling continues to be an economically viable and environmentally beneficial part of the UK's waste strategy, and we are encouraging householders to continue to put out waste for recycling.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of (a) the cost of operating all recycling programmes in the country and (b) the value of material collected under all recycling programmes in the latest period for which figures are available. (247906)

No assessment has been made of the cost of operating recycling programmes in the UK. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that the total value of materials recycled from households in England in 2007 was around £310-330 million.