to recycle, but sometimes their local authority makes it near impossible. Things need to change
How much is a cup of tea worth these days - 50p? £1? Maybe even more depending on where you buy it... just be careful where you put your tea bag.
I was astonished to read the plight of a pensioner from Blackburn who was reprimanded for putting a tea bag in his recycling bin by mistake. He was just one of several Sun readers who had reported recycling conundrums - with some people facing fines of up to £1,000 for not complying with local council recycling rules. Donald McKenzie got off with a slap on the wrist, but a whopping great fine could've been the high price he had to pay for a cup of PG Tips.
Why is recycling so complicated? There are almost 400 local authorities in England, all with different rules on what you can and can't recycle. For example, residents served by North Kesteven District Council can recycle glass, plastic (of all shapes and sizes, not just bottles), tin foil, cans, paper and food waste - whereas folks living in nearby South Kesteven can hardly recycle anything. It's crazy.
At Asda, we've set ourselves some tough targets on reducing the amount of waste we produce. We've pledged to cut own-label packaging by 25% by the end of this year and to ensure as much as possible is recyclable and made from recycled materials. So far we've removed 36,000 tonnes of packaging with the help of our suppliers.
But, while more than 90% of the packaging we produce is already recyclable, very few local authorities are able to collect it all, which means thousands of tonnes of Asda packaging end up in landfill when it could have been put to better use.
Our customers have been inundating us with tales of the difficulties they face when trying to recycle. If they can't leave it at the kerbside at home, they either throw it in the bin or need to drive to the local tip - frustrating, and there's also the damage caused by hundreds of extra car journeys to factor in.
If you are unlucky enough to live somewhere where plastic, cardboard, or even glass bottles are not collected by your local council, your bin is going to be much fuller, much quicker. That's why we also strongly oppose the 'pay as you throw' bin tax proposal.
We've been calling for a consistent nationwide approach to recycling for months. Why should one resident be asked to pay more simply because their local authority doesn't recycle plastic, when down the road another local authority does?
We understand the difficulties local authorities face with lack of available investment for the infrastructure needed to collect more materials.
That's why we're chairing a Cross-Industry Packaging Waste Group, working with waste collection companies, Wrap, local authorities and other retailers in the hope that, collectively, we can drive a strategy that will make recycling easier.
As a retailer we have a responsibility to cut out unnecessary packaging and ensure the remainder is made from materials that can be easily recycled.
Our customers also have a responsibility to recycle as much of our packaging as possible, but - and it's a big but - central government has a responsibility to try to make recycling as easy as possible for people, regardless of where they live.
We're confident they're on the right road, and together we'll get there in the end, but time is of the essence.
Once it's done, we can all put our feet up and have a nice cup of tea.