Official data on production output indicates a healthy growth for waste collection, treatment and disposal activities, with a 10% increase during the past 12 months.
The latest quarterly reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that output in the sector increased by 4.6% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2016 compared with Q4 of 2015.
The economy as a whole went into recession with output during the same period falling by 0.4%, the second successive contraction. It is the third time UK industry has been in recession in eight years.
But waste activities grew 10.4% in March 2016 compared with March 2015, and there was a 1.2% increase from February 2016 to March 2016.
ONS said that “anecdotal evidence suggested that an increase in some of the recycling production activities was a contributing factor”.
It is understood that ‘recycling’ is a broad term used by companies who respond to the survey rather than a tighter definition under the waste hierarchy.
This brighter picture was echoed in comments from Ian Wakelin, chief executive of Biffa, who told an Environmental Services Association event in Westminster on 10 May that the sector had been through “quite a tough time in recent years” but the outlook was brighter.
He said: “There have been many well-documented failures, but I’m pleased to say the industry is on a bit of a rebound and seeing some continued and hopefully sustained growth.”