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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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    Tate Modern and Costa Coffee among outlets offering free tap water in five areas of the capital

    The National Theatre and Tate Modern are to join an initiative offering people free tap water refills as part of the mayor of London’s plans to reduce purchases of single-use plastic bottles in the capital.

    Shops and businesses including Costa Coffee and Leon have also signed up to the trial scheme, which will involve more than 65 outlets in five areas of London.

    Related: The Bristol refill-reuse bottle campaign that is spreading across Europe

    Related: Government 'dragging its feet' over plastic bottle scheme, say MPs

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    When fixing items is actively discouraged by manufacturers, recycling becomes a political act, say Repair Cafe volunteers

    A vacuum cleaner, a hair straightener, a laptop, Christmas lights, an e-reader, a blender, a kettle, two bags, a pair of jeans, a remote-control helicopter, a spoon, a dining-room chair, a lamp and hair clippers. All broken.

    It sounds like a pile of things that you’d stick in boxes and take to the tip. In fact, it’s a list of things mended in a single afternoon by British volunteers determined to get people to stop throwing stuff away.

    Fix it

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    Others include plastic soap dispenser tops and wrapping paper, study shows

    British consumers are in the dark about exactly what household waste they can recycle, a new poll has revealed, with plastic soap dispenser tops, dirty kitchen roll and wrapping paper topping the list of things they wrongly consider recyclable.

    Research shows that Britons are more aware than ever of how recycling can help the environment. However, the majority are putting out contaminated recycling due to common misunderstandings, thereby doing more harm than good.

    Related: Which items can't be recycled?

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    Many people think items such as plastic bags and coffee cups can be recycled when they can’t. Here are the do’s and don’ts

    British consumers are increasingly willing to recycle their household waste but are failing to grasp the basics, according to the latest research by the British Science Association. Failure to get it right means that a lot of recyclable waste is going to landfill, the BSA says.

    The issue is further complicated by inconsistency among councils, which make their own rules and funding decisions on recycling collections.

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    Apparently, millennials have killed democracy, marmalade, and now recycling. Can anyone else smell a lazy stereotype?

    Bad news, everyone: those pesky millennials have killed another industry. I know, just when you thought those bloodthirsty market-murderers couldn’t top topping the marmalade industry, the motorcycle industry, and the “restaurants where you get to stare at the waitresses’ breasts” industry, they’ve struck again, like the serial killer in the movie Se7en (and we can’t even name the actor in that now because snowflake millennials have killed the “sexual abusers in Hollywood” industry).

    I don’t necessarily feel a sense of “millennial solidarity”, except when millennials are being attacked by tabloids for being too sensitive

    Although precise definitions differ, broadly speaking millennials are those people born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s. They are so called because they turned 18 in or after 2000. They are also collectively known as Generation Y

    Related: UK millennials second worst-hit financially in developed world, says study

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    We look at some of the stories provoking conversation today, including Corbyn’s piece on the Salisbury spy poisoning and the truth about recycling

    Jeremy Corbyn’s piece on the need for firm multilateral action to ensure the Salisbury spy poisonings never happens again, predictably, got readers talking.

    British consumers being in the dark about exactly what household waste they can recycle, and Sonia Sodha’s piece on reassessing the true value of university degrees.

    Where is the justice for the victims of Putin’s regime? The problem with waiting for all the evidence to be placed neatly in a row is that by the time the final judgement comes, years later, no bobody wants to take action as politics has moved on. For once I think the government got it right in taking firm action right away.

    We all know it’s a bit of posturing to hopefully reduce the chance of this happening again and will be forgotten soon enough, not the start of cold war2 or ww3, let’s not be over dramatic. However the time to call out the criminal is now, not once he dies of old age.
    Walrave

    Corbyn seems like the only true statesman that we have. But the Tories and the press they serve would have us believe the opposite as they cast around for May’s Falklands moment.

    But Corbyn knows his stuff and is coming over as a true leader.
    GorseBush

    The difference between Theresa May and JC.

    Theresa May – make a lot of noises, blame quickly, don’t bother with evidence, take some superficial action, job done, face in the papers few days, Brexit out of the mind for a week, move on.

    The thing is of course, that even if one household recycles correctly, next door could be hiding any old crap in the recycling bin, and by the time it gets back to the depot, the whole collected batch is ruined.

    Plastics seem to cause some confusion – Sheffield doesn’t have a doorstep collection for plastics (not in S14 anyway) so mine go in the bin, but I believe the best way to sort them is to run a strict policy of bottles only – not even the lids, which are often made of different stuff. The ‘triangle’ classification system which appears on most bottles and other plastic detritus helps a bit because you can find it online, but the symbols are often either so tiny one cannot read them, or completely absent. I run an ‘If in doubt, bin it’ system, but considering that some of the lovely people who share our cul-de-sac put polystyrene in the paper and card bin, I often feel like I’m wasting my time.
    Liveware Problem

    People/households need to get smarter with recycling, but frankly county/city waste schemes vary markedly making it confusing for people who move about or visit other places regularly, and the recyclers need to be better prepared to accept and sift through materials that people deposit as it is not always clear what is recyclable and what is not. It doesn’t surprise me about millennials: never experienced a generation in my life speaking so worthily and acting so thoughtlessly - a massive generalism I know, so I apologise to those that are not, but still, the attitude among them is prevalent.
    stemfr

    I am in two minds, one son has been down the A Level, Russell Group University route and is now after a brief period picking litter in the lanes around a landfill site tunneling with a large construction company. To do what he wanted he needed a degree but looking at his statement he has £46k of loans to pay off.

    The other probably brighter was offered an engineering apprenticeship at the end of his school work experience week. He has grown in stature, been coded in most welding techniques, complete his HNC, is doing his HND and can go on to get a degree. He is now at 20 in the management team working up the final designs, having paid for him do all the Solidworks CAD courses. He has no debt.
    johnpoy

    If courses benefit the economy they should be free. Get rid of all the limitless courses what do nothing to boost employment. Student have been told for years everyone has to go to uni. There should be more vocational courses to get people ready for the work place. Not everyone just going cos it’s the in thing to do.
    Leftyhypocrites

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    Clothing banks are disappearing from car parks at night, costing charities in lost revenue and bins

    Clothing recycling bins are disappearing from supermarket and council car parks across the UK, costing the charities that should benefit from them hundreds of thousands of pounds, it is claimed.

    According to the Textile Recycling Association, the UK’s trade association, 750 clothing banks have recently gone missing from all parts of the UK except Scotland. Some have been found, repainted with the logo of an organisation that is being investigated by the Charity Commission.

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    Plastic and cardboard packaging makes up more than a quarter of product weight in some of the UK’s best-selling chocolate eggs


    Packaging alone accounts for up to a quarter, on average, of the total weight of the most popular Easter eggs on sale on the High Street, new research by a consumer group has revealed.

    Related: Taste test: which Easter eggs and hot cross buns should you buy?

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    Australians throw away a lot of plastic, often after only one use. Here’s how to give it up

    It’s almost everywhere you look – and it’s undeniably destroying our planet.

    Over the past half a century, plastic has infiltrated modern life to such an extent that our oceans may have more of the stuff than fish by 2050.

    Related: Bag end: why we’re calling time on plastic waste

    Related: Car share, public transport and walking: better ways to get from A to B

    Related: Green power and water recycling: be switched on by switching off

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    Consumers to receive small cash sum for returning plastic, glass and metal drinks containers

    All drinks containers in England, whether plastic, glass or metal, will be covered by a deposit return scheme, the government has announced.

    The forthcoming scheme is intended to cut the litter polluting the land and sea by returning a small cash sum to consumers who return their bottles and cans.

    Related: 'But will it cut waste?': reader concerns about bottle deposit scheme

    Related: Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists

    Why is plastic being demonised?

    Related: Could a money-back scheme clean up the UK's plastic bottle plague?

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    The environment secretary’s conversion to the green cause has been lauded in liberal quarters. But is he playing a canny game?

    It used to be so simple. The relationship between enlightened, progressive folk and Michael Gove was one of straightforward loathing. He was the education secretary who had so enraged parents, pupils and especially teachers that even David Cameron realised he had to be moved out of sight before the Tories dared face the voters in 2015. And that was before Brexit.

    Plenty of remainers are convinced that, had it not been for the decision of Gove and Boris Johnson to campaign for leave, Brexit would have been defeated, fatally framed as the lost cause of Nigel Farage and the eccentric Tory fringe. Gove particularly gave leave a patina of intellectual respectability: had he not declared for Brexit first, it’s hard to imagine Johnson would have joined Farage alone.

    Related: Bottle and can deposit return scheme gets green light in England

    Related: Michael Gove: from 'shy green' to 'full-throated environmentalist'?

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    Major supermarkets express support for government’s plan but key issues, including who would pay for it, remain unclear

    The UK retail industry has warned it could cost £1bn to implement the government’s plan to charge deposits on drinks cans and bottles.

    Britain’s biggest supermarkets signalled a willingness to work with the environment secretary, Michael Gove, on the scheme, which would result in consumers in England getting the deposit back if they returned the empty drinks containers to stores.

    Related: Bottle and can deposit return scheme gets green light in England

    Related: The plastics crisis is more urgent than you know. Recycling bottles won’t fix it | John Vidal

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    Loo queue view | Boris Johnson’s non-apology | Bottle deposit schemes | Plastic-free in France | Caned for passing the 11-plus

    We are sorry for the inconvenience experienced by Gill Glover (Letters, 27 March) in using the toilets at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. We are grateful to have been made aware of the “oversharing” of the men’s facilities, and will resolve the problem straight away through a judicious rehanging of the door. The redevelopment of the theatre in 2010 enabled us to more than double the women’s cubicles available: we now have 47, compared with paltry 19 before the works.
    Catherine Mallyon
    Executive director, Royal Shakespeare Company

    • Boris Johnson’s “if I have offended” apology (Report, 28 March) is quite inadequate. I can’t speak for Emily Thornberry but he offended John Bercow, and he offended me. The occasion called for an unconditional apology for yet another flouting of the normal rules of civilised behaviour. He is an embarrassment to us all.
    Betty Birch
    London

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    Instead of trying to change people’s behaviour, the problem needs to be tackled at source – that means a zero-waste society

    It’s spring, time to enjoy the countryside and experience the restorative powers of nature. But be warned. These days you are more likely to get depressed and angry at the sight of other people’s rubbish, from casual litter to deliberate fly-tipping.

    While littering of the oceans is now at the forefront of public concern, general littering of the countryside and communities is barely on the national radar. Yet the amount of “eyesore” litter, not just plastic, is increasing exponentially on roadsides, in rivers, in public spaces and in the countryside and has a hugely negative impact on people’s lives.

    Related: UK reverses opposition to tough EU recycling targets

    Clearing one bag of roadside rubbish costs £40 because of road closures and safety precautions

    Related: Michael Gove’s latest bid to recycle his image | Jonathan Freedland

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    From potential issues of capacity to accessibility, readers share their concerns on the reality of recycling using deposit return schemes

    Cash in exchange for returning a used drinks container sounds like a good idea, but how much of an impact will it have in our fight against reducing waste?

    On Tuesday the government unveiled a bottle and can deposit scheme covering glass, metal and plastic drinks containers in England. By returning bottles and cans consumers will receive a small cash sum, however retailers are responsible for recycling the items.

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    Exclusive: Ministers will now back a target of 65% by 2035, meaning ambitious rhetoric is being supported by firm action, say experts

    The UK has reversed its opposition to tough EU recycling targets and will now back a goal of recycling two-thirds of urban waste by 2035, the Guardian has learned. The nation’s recycling rate has stalled and it is set to miss its current target of 50% by 2020.

    The prime minister, Theresa May, and environment secretary, Michael Gove, have both made high-profile pledges to act on the plastic pollution that is devastating the oceans and littering the land, which May called “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

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    Bottle and can return scheme, which UK hopes to emulate, is not a pure win for environment

    At a drinks retailer on the outskirts of Hamburg, a father holds up his three-year-old son to help him push an empty plastic water bottle into a hole on a large grey machine.

    With a whirring sound, the apparatus pulls the bottle out of the child’s hand, juggles it on an assembly line to scan the barcode, then sucks the container even deeper into its belly and eventually shreds it with a satisfying crunch.

    Related: Bottle and can deposit return scheme gets green light in England

    Related: German cities accused of freezing out poverty-stricken bottle collectors

    Related: The plastics crisis is more urgent than you know. Recycling bottles won’t fix it | John Vidal

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    GKN | National debt | Beatlemania | Hamlet relief | Returning the empties | Offenbach

    If the government fails to intervene to prevent the acquisition of GKN by Melrose it will be further proof, if any is needed, that the UK is being run for the benefit of big business (Outcry as GKN falls to hostile takeover, 30 March). If the takeover is permitted, it is clear that shareholders will walk away with fat profits while employees will be flung on to the jobs market to scrabble for precarious work and zero-hours contracts.
    Jane Sutherland
    Reading, Berkshire

    • The Tory government claims that the UK economy is safe in its hands, yet the national debt has recently passed £2tn having been at £.75tn when it came to power. Why is this not discussed or commented on?
    Marilyn Hulbert
    Bath

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    Supermarket estimates the change will save almost 350 tonnes of plastic every year

    The Co-op supermarket plans to switch all of its own-brand water to 50% recycled plastic bottles in a move it expects will present an “ethical dilemma” to customers.

    The new bottles will have a cloudier and greyer appearance than those that do not contain recycled plastic and the Co-op said it accepted that they could test shoppers’ environmentally conscious credentials.

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    Court told man manipulated machines for deposit return scheme to make repeated claims

    Recycling used bottles benefits the environment and is good for your conscience. But in Germany, criminals have allegedly found ways in which it can make you a millionaire.

    A 27-year-old man faced court on Thursday in Bochum on two fraud charges, after allegedly making €1.2m (£1.1m) through illegally manipulating machines used for the German deposit return scheme for bottles and cans.

    Related: Has Germany hit the jackpot of recycling? The jury's still out

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