MRW's State of the Nation Report 2005 reveals what local authorities think about targets, funding, legislation and every other issue in the battle to increase the UK's recycling standards
Brussels may set the standards, Westminster might write the laws and everyone's contribution certainly is vital - but it is local authorities that are at the sharp end of recycling in the UK.
MRW's second State of the Nation Report gives a fascinating insight into the thoughts and attitudes of councils across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Coming 12 months after the inaugural Report, it also offers a chance to see how things have changed in that time.
The most shocking thing to come from this comparison is the soaring cost of meeting recycling targets. The amount of money the average council feels it needs each year to meet Government demands has risen by 74% in just 12 months.
And this is despite the fact that local authorities have been working towards the same 2005/6 targets since April 2004. There are no 2004/5 targets and as yet there are no targets after 2005/6.
But this time last year, the average annual fund councils felt they needed "to meet recycling targets in the next two to three years" was £526,000 - and now it is £917,000.
In the south east of England, the average amount has soared to £1.26 million, compared to £573,000 last year. The average in the north of England is now £918,000, in the south-west and Wales is £848,000, in the Midlands is £616,000 and in Scotland, Northern Ireland and unstated areas is £1.134m.
And two local authorities told MRW that they now needed more than £3m per year to meet 2005/6 targets.
But despite these steep rises in the costs of meeting targets, more councils believe they are receiving the necessary funding than they did last year. Almost two-thirds of respondents to the 2005 survey believed they were receiving fairly or entirely adequate funding, compared with less than half in 2004.
And just 37% of local authorities told MRW their funding was inadequate, a drop from 52% in last year's report.
The biggest rise in recycling costs appears to be from the massive roll-out of kerbside collection schemes across the UK. The average council is looking to spend 53% of its recycling budget on such schemes in 2005, compared with 39% in 2004. There have also been slight increases in the costs of the vehicles, boxes, bins and bags associated with kerbside collections.
Meanwhile, councils are looking to spend less of their budget on marketing and communication campaigns, and machinery, than in 2004.
Surprisingly, almost four in 10 local authorities have not run a communication campaigns in conjunction with Recycle Now or the Big Recycle. The Waste and Resources Action Programme has spent millions on those national campaigns and encouraging councils to support them.
Less shocking is that the rising costs of meeting targets have left councils less confident that they will meet their 2005/6 targets than they were a year ago. Only a third of respondents to the 2005 survey said they would definitely meet their targets, compared with 40% last year.
But despite all this, local authorities are as up for the challenge of hauling the UK's recycling effort into the 21st Century as they ever were. The Report revealed an overwhelming level of support for further statutory targets beyond 2005/6. More than fo