Is recycling the best way?

Recycling is almost always the best way to get rid of waste, even when it is exported abroad, according to the biggest ever report on the industry for the UK government.

It also backed up last week’s controversial report published by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs warning that biopolymer plastics made from crops should be recycled rather than put into compost, despite being widely marketed as “biodegradable”.

Wrap, the government’s waste and packaging agency, said it had analysed 200 reports covering seven different materials: paper and cardboard, plastics, biopolymers, food, garden cuttings, wood and textiles. The experts then looked at the evidence for seven methods of disposal, including recycling, composting, incineration and landfill, measured by four different criteria: energy use, water use, other resource use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

In more than four out of five cases, recycling was the clear winner, said Keith James, Wrap’s environmental policy manager.