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Growth in household recycling rate slows down

The household recycling rate in England last year has grown at the slowest pace since 2000, according to Defra data.

The figures were included in Defra’s annual Sustainable Development Indicators report which provides an overview of national progress towards a more sustainable economy, society and environment.

The amount of waste recycled, composted or reused in 2011/2012 was 10.7 million tonnes, around 43% of total waste collected from households, rising only slightly in comparison to the previous year (see above).

“The increase in 2011/12 was the smallest for ten years with the rate of increase slowing since its peak around 2005,” said Defra.

However, the department noted that the rate has increased significantly from 11% in 2000.

Under the Revised Waste Framework Directive, the EU has set a target for 50% of household waste to be recycled by 2020.

Readers' comments (2)

  • From John Glover, MD, Bywaters. With the "realism" of 2012 (identifying non recoverable materials rather than ignoring them) and the new MRF code of practice being adopted in 2013 there will be no hiding place for excessive levels of fines, contaminants and non-conforming material in materials delivered to reprocessing plants, however they are collected. There is likely to be an effective readjustment of many recycling percentages DOWN by around 15% compared to previously. We all need to ensure that we don't kid ourselves what is going on and to also recover the cost of moving unrecyclable materials to energy from waste, if possible, otherwise to landfill! That is all a COST.

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  • John is probably right that current poor quality sorting flatters recycling rates. If he is right about the scale of it that could be a problem for Defra and their obligations under the Waste Framework Directive.

    As to why the rate is slowing - there will be more than reason but a reduction in effort on behaviour change must be part of it. High levels of recycling need high capacity systems and high customer usage. Too little capacity can frustrate recycling by those that want to do it, but high capacity on its own wont persuade others to change.

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