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The question Recycling

By 2003 the Government wants 17% of domestic waste to be recycled. It is aiming for 33% by 2015. This week we ask: do our public authorities do enough to encourage people to recycle?

In theory yes, that is the provision of facilities and sites for the public to return waste goods. In reality no. Many of these facilities are ridiculously located. For example, where do you and I use goods? Mostly in the home. Where are the facilities located? In shopping centres (more often than not).

Therefore, instead of having conveniently located facilities for returnable waste, you and I are expected to cart it all round the area in our vehicles until we chance upon a facility.

Aled Humphreys, purchase accounts negotiator, South Wales

Living in Leicester I have to say that our City Council is very good at encouraging us to recycle. It provides a refuse collection service which includes a 'green bag' collection for recyclable refuse.

I believe our local government is doing almost all that it can. I say almost because I am uncertain whether or not they are talking to local producers, suppliers and retailers.

The key lies in supply chain management. Clearly, if local and national government did more to encourage producers, suppliers and retailers to use more recyclable materials in their products and less packaging, then there would be less for the consumer to throw away as unusable waste and more for the consumer to recycle.

Glenn Foster

The answer is a definite no - they only give lip service to recycling.

Andy Coope, business development manager, earthworks, reclamation, recycling, waste management nationally

Although the ambition of recycling more waste is a noble one, there is likely to be a point where diminishing returns defeat the object. Kerb side collection of glass, paper and metal would seem to be the easiest to do and at little extra cost to the local authority. However, there is often no market for the materials. One local authority where we used to live meticulously collected waste paper separately - and then finding no market sent it all to landfill! A lot of domestic waste can never be recycled.

The best option is to recover the calorific value through combustion and electricity generation. Otherwise we will all end up drinking groundwater contaminated with our own excrement.

JC Sreeves, senior engineer, Swindon

While councils have to provide recycling facilities, a key part of the recycling scenario is education, so that people know why we need to recycle, what is recyclable and how to recycle. I suggest that this is a role for central government, in conjunction with schools. Central government also has to provide the financial means for local authorities to provide recycling facilities - they cannot simply issue an edict and expect it to happen without providing additional resources.

Chris Prangnell, group engineer, London

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