Christopher Booker's Telegraph column usefully sums up the pointlessness of the UK's recycling strategy; a con, a bluff, all smoke and mirrors, and cruelly abusive of the credulity of the public upon whom the effectiveness of the con trick depends.
As he points out, to meet their government targets council's don't actually have to recycle anything at all, don't actually have to dispose of waste to recycling. The entire target is based on the %age of waste collected for recycling. Once a council has collected 20% or whatever, it can then burn it, send it to landfill or, in the case of old electrical waste and tyres, ship it abroad for dumping in the third world.
If you register on http://www.wastedataflow.org/ you can look at your own council's actual performance, even counting the tonnage of 'recycling' collected from street litter bins. If they're only a 'waste collection authority' and not also a 'waste disposal authority' you then pretty well lose track of what happens to the waste. But even if the waste is recorded as disposed of with a recycler, there's no assurance that it's recycled - it's could be just a convenient intermediate step on the road to landfill - not a bad thing at all, but just a crooked process that lines many intermediate crooked pockets.
As to who benefits from this gigantic con trick, who gets the £10bn investment the CBI says is needed, and the £8bn a year running cost, look no further than the big commercial waste handling and processing firms, the German rotomoulders of wheely bins, the French developers of automated waste sorting machinery and their spin-offs.
As to who pays - why, we do, of course.