The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has warned that councils in England will need more money if they are to boost disappointing recycling rates.
The latest Defra statistics revealed the smallest rise in local authority recycling since the UK committed to a 50% target rate by 2020.
In 2013, 44.16% of ‘waste from household’ was reused, recycled or composted, just slightly up from 44.11% in 2012.
By comparison, Wales recently heralded a 54% recycling rate. Natural resources minister Carl Sargeant has claimed that Wales would be Europe’s fourth best recycler if it were an independent nation.
LARAC chairman Andrew Bird said rates in Wales were rising as a result of “clear national policy backed up with a range of support and funding programmes”.
He said: “The current slowdown in recycling rates across England is disappointing, but not unexpected, given the policy vacuum and the drastic funding cuts councils have had to contend with, which those outside of local authorities should not underestimate.
“Without new funding streams coming through, councils will still be forced to weigh up the need for expanded waste services against education, social services and health and wellbeing needs.”
LARAC warned that councils had suffered a 37% cut in funding from central Government between 2010/11 and 2015/16 and that a reduction in services was “inevitable”.
Bird also backed council waste managers for their willingness to achieve higher recycling levels: “We must not forget the threefold increase in rates since 2000 which is due to the hard work of local authorities.”
Bird, who is recycling strategy and commissioning manager at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, was appointed LARAC chairman in January after Joy Blizzard stood down.