Environment Minister Rory Stewart, speaking at the Environment Industries Commission annual conference, last week, has signalled his desire to work with local councils to slash the number of different recycling systems in the UK from around 300 to just five or six, arguing a more co-ordinated approach to waste management would help cut costs and boost recycling rates.
Since joining the Defra team following May's election Stewart said he had been focused on waste policy and was addressing "the craziness that we have over 300 different recycling systems in Britain".
"Almost every council is running a different recycling system," he added. "We really need to find a way of co-ordinating better."
Stewart admitted many local councils remain resistant to central government efforts to standardise local waste and recycling policies, which currently result in massive variations in how local authorities collect recycling and which materials they will process.
"It is a difficult thing for government to do, because local councils quite understandably feel this is their prerogative," he said. "In fact, for some councils it is a real source of pride.
Stewart stressed any reforms would be carried out on a voluntary basis in co-operation with councils.