RECYCLING in England is to be standardised from 2026, with all homes, businesses and schools recycling the same materials, the Government has said.

What has the Government said?

There will also be a once-a-week minimum requirement for the collection of food waste, which the Government said would reduce the amount going to landfill.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey described the current system as a “postcode lottery” whereby people living in different areas are not able to recycle the same materials.

The District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents many local authorities, said the changes will result in higher costs for councils but welcomed the decision to allow them discretion in how to collect waste in their areas.

The Government said it wants to “simplify recycling for people across England.

It is also proposing that residual, meaning non-hazardous industrial, waste should be collected every fortnight, though local authorities are concerned this would result in higher environmental costs elsewhere, such as through more fuel being burnt in transportation.

The Government said it is “proposing new exemptions to make sure that waste collectors will be able to collect dry recyclables together, in the same bin or bag, and collect organic waste together, to reduce the number of bins required”.

The Government added: “The new plans for simpler recycling will make sure that households will not need an excessive number of bins.

“The reforms will bring in a more convenient and practical system which prevents councils from being hit with extra complexity, while making sure all local authorities collect the required recyclable waste streams: glass; metal; plastic; paper and card; food waste; and garden waste.”

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St Helens' 'enhanced bags and boxes system'

The announcement by the government at the weekend came as the topic of recycling has been in the spotlight locally in St Helens since the introduction of an amended system by the borough council last month.

The rollout, which began on September 11, has seen an enhanced bags and boxes system brought in.

The council said features of the system include an improved lid to keep the contents dry and a heavier weight in the bottom to stop them from blowing away in the wind. 

St Helens Star: The new recycling containers in St HelensThe new recycling containers in St Helens (Image: St Helens Council)

Some residents have criticised the new system, citing other local authorities that have what they say are “simpler” systems. Some have raised questions over the claims of the necessity of a muti-container system.

In a column for the Star, St Helens Council leader David Baines said that the multiple-bag system is needed due to “cross-contamination” making recycling harder if a “one-bin” arrangement were in place.

He added that upcoming national government rules will “force every council to do what we do right now” and said it would be “a huge waste of money” to move away from the current system.

When the Star contacted the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last month to ask for the government's position on recycling and whether different types of waste should be "co-mingled", a spokesman stated that local authorities have “flexibility to take into account particular local circumstances”.

He said all local authorities in England must make arrangements for “a core set of materials to be collected for recycling from households”. This includes paper and card; plastic; glass; metal; food waste and garden waste.  

He added these changes “do not introduce a one-size-fits-all blueprint” and said “local authorities can still decide to collect two or more recyclable waste streams together in cases where it is appropriate”.