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Rochford council tops Defra recycling table

Rochford District Council in Essex is the top recycling local authority in England - although the crown was challenged by another council which cried foul.

Defra’s annual league table of councils’ collected recycling show that Rochford council, which contracts Sita to provide its waste and recycling services, sent 65.79% of its household waste for reuse, recycling or composting. Last year the authority came in third, with 61.19%.

In second place was South Oxfordshire District Council, which contracts with Biffa, where 65.11% of waste is recycled. The authority was also second last year but this time the council claims “an interpretation discrepancy in some underlying data” reduced its rate by “several percentage points”.

The council concedes that some data may have been entered wrongly but is adamant its overall recycling figure is 70%. Defra stands by the figures. (For full data see Excel file, right)

Rochford councillor Mike Steptoe, Rochford’s portfolio holder for the environment said their success was the result of “a lot of hard work”.

He added: “Hard work by the council, by our contractor, Sita, by the people who collect the bins and most important of all by the residents of Rochford who actually do the recycling.”

He said the key to success was to “keep it simple”. Rochford uses a three-bin system with alternate week collection for recyclables and residuals and weekly collections for food and garden waste.

General manager of Sita UK, Steve Holgate, added: “We are extremely proud of both the residents of Rochford District and the staff at Sita.

“We believe this has been done by working closely with Rochford District Council and collecting recyclable and compostable items on alternate weeks from residents.”

Biffa also takes third place in the table with its Surrey Heath Borough Council service which is up from 37th place last year. The authority has increased its waste sent to recycling from 50.02% in 2009/10 to 64.73% in 2010/11. The improvement follows the implementation of a completely redesigned waste and recycling strategy in September 2009.

Environment minister Lord Taylor said on release of the figures: “Recycling is now part of our everyday lives and we’re sending less waste to landfill than ever before. This is good news for householders, councils and the environment, but there is still much more we can all do. By all working together to deliver the recycling services local people want and need, we can achieve our ultimate aim of a zero waste economy.”

The top 10 local authorities for recycling, composting and reuse (%):

Rochford District Council                             65.79
South Oxfordshire District Council                             65.11
Surrey Heath Borough Council                             64.73
Bournemouth Borough Council                             63.92
Cotswold District Council                             60.41
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council                             60.23
Stratford-on-Avon District Council                             59.31
Epping Forest Borough Council                             58.89
Suffolk Coastal District Council                             58.65
Harborough District Council                             58.07


The ESA’s director of policy, Matthew Farrow praised his members’ hard work but said there was still hard work to be done: “We are pleased to see yet another increase in the proportion of household waste sent for recycling, composting or reuse. At the same time, we are also delighted that the tonnage of local authority collected waste being sent to landfill by local authorities has decreased by 8.8%.

“However, there is still 11.4 million tonnes of waste being sent to landfill and the UK is still some way from reaching its EU Directive target of recycling or preparing for reuse 50% of household waste by 2020, so we all need to do much more.”

At the other end of the table, Ashford Borough Council in Kent, where the service is provided by Sita, is bottom again with a recycling rate of 14%, around 1% down on 2009/10. Second and third from bottom, switching places from last year, are the London boroughs of Newham and Lewisham at 15% and 18% respectively.

The bottom 10 authorities in the table for recycling, reuse and composting:

Middlesbrough Borough Council23%
Gravesham Borough Council23%
Lewes District Council23%
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council23%
Bassetlaw District Council23%
Aylesbury Vale District Council22%
Council of the Isles of Scilly19%
Lewisham LB18%
Newham LB15%
Ashford Borough Council14%


Recyclebank, which runs recycling reward schemes with local authorities, said the two areas it has been operating in had increased their recycling rates above the national average.

Simon Smith, commercial director at Recyclebank said: “The improvement in recycling rate in Halton Borough Council is five times the national average (+7.3%), whilst in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, the improvement is four times the national average (+5.8%). These results quite clearly show that residents respond positively to the carrot, and that green behaviours can be motivated by rewards.”

Halton came in 217th place in the Defra table with a recycling rate of 38%, up from 292nd place with 31% last year. Windsor and Maidenhead is at 211th with 39% up from 239th with 34% in 2009/10.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Well done to Rochford - 70% recycling/composting is in sight. Interesting to note that incentives have not been the silver bullet to lift performance.

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