A radical new approach to recycling household waste has been launched by the supermarket chain Tesco. The machine, which was built in Norway, uses space technology, including infrared spectroscopes and a real time camera, to scan and sort plastic, glass and aluminium and crushes them to maximise use of space. It promises to be faster, cleaner and more efficient than recycling units currently in use. It will be on trial at Tesco’s Winchester store and, depending upon customer feedback, it will be rolled out to other stores across the country. This new development has the potential to move the emphasis on recycling household waste away from doorstep collection by the local council towards customers transporting it to the supermarket as part of the shopping routine.Secretary of State for Environment, Margaret Beckett said she hoped that the new facilities would attract people who typically don’t recycle and welcomed Tesco’s move to encourage its customers to recycle more. It is hoped that the new machine will help to boost local recycling rates and attract new recyclers. Currently, 16 per cent of household waste is recycled in Winchester. A nation wide survey showed that nine out of ten people would recycle if it was easier to do so, and it is hoped that the new facility will attract a new generation of recyclers and encourage those who already do, to recycle more.
Between 1996/7 and 2002/3, recycling in England has almost doubled from 7.5% to 14.5%. Government expects that the 2003/4 national target of recycling and composting 17% of total household waste will be met, the first time such a target will ever have been achieved. A national target of recycling and composting 25% of total household waste has been set for 2005/6.