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Recycling rates at quarterly peak

Recycling rates in England reached a new quarterly high, driven by a surge in organics waste collections, the latest provisional statistics from Defra indicate.

The increase represents the first positive sign in almost two years of sluggish growth in English recycling performance.

Between April and June 2014, some 48.5% of ‘waste from households’ was recycled, composted or prepared for reuse.

The waste from household metric is the new harmonised measure that the UK will use to report its progress to the EU against the 50% target by 2020. It was introduced in May 2014 and is a narrower version of the previous indicator ‘local authority collected waste’.

The second quarter of the year is traditionally characterised by higher recycling rates, but the figure for 2014 is the highest registered since 2010 (see graph above).

If the 12 months to June are considered, the rate stands at 44.9%, some 0.8 percentage points above the annual rate for 2013, which sparked concerns over a possible standstill in English recycling when it was released in November.

According to Defra, the peak in the second quarter of last year was due to an increase in the the composting of organics waste, such as garden waste, mixed garden and food waste, and wood.

The volume of such material rose by 17.4% compared with the same period in 2013.|Defra commented: “[This] may be partly due to the warmer than average weather recorded for England in the spring of 2014. This is likely to have generated more green waste and encouraged larger participation in recycling.”

Food waste processing also increased, with 11.3% more tonnages sent to anaerobic digestion in comparison witho the same period in 2013.

Dry recycling rose by just under 1% year-on-year. Paper and card made up about 40% of it, followed by glass at 19%. Scrap metals, including WEEE, accounted for 9% and plastics for 7%. Defra said the composition of dry recycling has remained similar since 2010.

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