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England raises recycling rates

English household recycling rates have increased to almost 40% for the year ending September 2009, new Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) figures show.

The quarterly recycling rates illustrate an increase in household recycling rates from 37.6% for the year ending March 2009 and 38.8% for the year ending September 2009, while residual household waste decreased from 295kg per head to 284kg per head over the same period.

Such waste includes bin waste from household collection rounds, oversized household waste and waste generated through civic amenity sites and drop off schemes.

Friends Of the Earth resource campaigner Julian Kirby said of the results: “The good news on recycling rates shows just how far we’ve come in ten years - getting on for a 30% increase.”

The figures also showed that the amount of waste sent to landfill fell by 5.0% from 13.8 to 13.1 million tonnes over the year. While England’s total municipal waste – such as park, garden and commercial and industrial waste decreased by 1.6% in the year ending September 2009, falling from 27.33 million tonnes to 26.89 million tonnes over the period. 

The figures represent a provisional estimate of English recycling rates, based on incomplete information returns from local authorities to WasteDataFlow – an online data reporting website for local authorities.

Because data is still being compiled, the final figures for the quarter will not be made available until the release of the annual national statistics in November.

Kirby believes that tougher targets are now required to increase recycling rates further still: “Whoever forms the next government should recognise the recycling industry is now a significant contributor to the UK economy, giving best value for jobs, precious materials saved and reduced environmental impact,” he explained. “The next ten years to 2020 need a genuinely ambitious but achievable 75% recycling target rather than the singularly disappointing 50% currently on the cards.”

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