A leading voice in the waste sector has called for pay-as-you-throw schemes, fortnightly residual waste collections and separate food collections if England is to keep pace with Wales and meet EU recycling targets.
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Suez, was commenting after the release in Cardiff of the latest household recycling figures showing that Wales hit 56.2% for 2014-15, the first time a nation within the UK has gone above 55% (see box).
Palmer-Jones said: “Wales has shown the rest of the UK that reaching, and now comfortably surpassing, the key 50% EU target is eminently achievable once clear coherent strategy is put in place from the top down.
“The big question however is whether UK policy-makers and waste mangers are prepared to implement these changes in time. England’s annual recycling rates are due out in the next few weeks which may yet be the catalyst needed.”
England’s recycling rate stands at around 45%. Due to population weighting, England’s results will be crucial if the UK is to meet the EU target of 50% by 2020.
Recycling rates across England have stalled while rates in Wales have continued to show year-by-year improvement.
Palmer-Jones added: “To ramp up the household recycling rates in England, and to keep pace with Wales, Suez recommends the introduction of mandatory separate food waste collections once a week and the collection of residual ‘black bag’ fortnightly which, taken together, could add 6% to local authority recycling rates.
“Suez also recommends pay-as-you-throw schemes, where households would be charged for the weight of the black bag waste collected.”
The 2014-15 Landfill Allowances Scheme report, which has also been published, shows that Welsh local authorities sent 256,162 tonnes of biodegradable waste to landfill in 2014-15 compared to 345,022 tonnes in 2013-14, a reduction of 26%.
Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said: “I congratulate householders and local authorities of Wales for this fantastic achievement, and I thank them for their commitment to recycling more and sending less waste to landfill than ever, maintaining our position as the best recyclers in the UK.
“This has been made possible by the strong partnership between the Welsh Government and local authorities across Wales.”
Wales key points
- The percentage of local authority municipal waste (excluding abandoned vehicles) that was reused, recycled or composted in Wales has continued to increase since 2000-01, with 56.2% of waste reused/recycled/composted during 2014-15.
- During 2014-15, 20 of the 22 local authorities in Wales met or exceeded the statutory reuse/ recycling/composting target of 52%.
- The total amount of local authority municipal waste (excluding abandoned vehicles) generated in Wales has generally fallen since its peak in 2004-05. The 1.54 million tonnes generated in 2014-15 represents a decrease of almost 1% on 2013-14.
- The amount of waste sent to landfill continued to fall, with 0.5 million tonnes (30%) managed in this way during 2014-15.