DS Smith emphasizes need for source-segregated collections to improve UK recycling rates, during a roundtable organized by Whitehall & Industry Group; company calls for policy reforms, learning from well-functioning EU recycling systems

Sample article from our Sustainability & Social Responsibility

LONDON , July 17, 2023 (press release) –

With over 12 years’ experience in the sector, Jonathan’s work focuses on key recyclability issues across Europe. As an active member of the 4evergreen Alliance and CPI he is passionate in ensuring that all our activity contributes to making a more sustainable and circular world.

Jonathan recently presented on the importance of source-segregated collections at the “Next Steps for Waste Prevention and Resource-Efficiency across the UK” roundtable organised by the Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG).

WIG is an influential network of policymakers, industry representatives, NGOs and academics created to exchange information and foster good decision making among private and public sector leaders in the UK. DS Smith joined WIG as a member in 2023 to contribute to this common goal.

What was discussed? Defra’s (Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs) recently refreshed 25-year environment plan sets out the UK government’s long-term policy framework for improving the environment within a generation. It includes ambitious goals, notably 65% recycling target for municipal waste by 2035 and zero avoidable waste by 2050, which will require concerted action across sectors.

Driving up recycling rates through consistent collections

To meet the ambitious recycling targets proposed by the Government, Jonathan emphasised the importance of consistent, mandatory source segregation across the UK.

In our mills, we can see that sorted paper and card from comingled sources has double the contamination rate compared to source-segregated feedstock.
Jonathan Edmunds
Head of Recyclability, Sustainability & Government Affairs at DS Smith, Recycling

 “A source-segregated system would improve the quality of waste streams and achieve higher recycling rates, therefore preventing a loss of valuable raw material.”

To achieve this, he suggested policymakers to look at the Welsh recycling infrastructure and other well-functioning systems in the EU as examples we could learn from.

He went on to add  “The public also have a critical role to play in the success of  separating materials for recycling, which needs to be supported by clear messaging and education. DS Smith is a strong advocator for actions which will lead to improvements in the UK recycling rate, and quality of paper and cardboard collected for recycling.” 

What’s next? After the presentation, a panel discussion and Q&A session was held with other speakers including the Environment Agency, and WRAP.

The panel agreed that much remained to be done to improve recycling infrastructure in the UK and move to a resource efficient economy, and that all organisations, the government, and the public have a role to play in achieving the circular economy.

An invite was extended to members of WIG to visit our Kemsley Paper mill, the largest recovered fibre mill in the UK, to see the impact of good and poor quality recycling has on the paper making process.

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