We just tidied out one of our teenage kids bedrooms. We came out with 5 black sacks full of "trash". We could simpy leave this out for the weekly trash collection and it will be taken away. But as an experiment, we decided to follow our local council's recycling guidelines.
Six clicks on the council website and I found out what I can put out to be collected from the house - 13 different categories of waste each of which must be bagged up separately! Four more clicks and I have found the list of things that I can take to the recylcing center. 24 categories of waste! I could have got read the 20 page newsletter that the council sent out to tell me how to recycle but I found it so complicated that I trashed it!
We sorted the 5 blacks sacks which resulted in 8 piles - clothes, paper, cardboard, books, metal, wood, stuff thrown away by mistake and non-recyclable. The non recyclable fitted into 1 black sack - the recyclable content was 80%! That is a very good return on the sorting investment.
But like most people, I just don't have the time or the organization to recycle regularly based on this model. The current answer seems to be to make people into criminals if they do not recycle. Penalising people will make some people comply but it will cause others to fly tip. Our governments must wake up and realise that recycling is just too difficult and time consuming the way it is set up and people will not do it.