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Tiny rise in England's household recycling rate

The latest recycling rate for waste collected by local authorities in England has barely risen, according to the latest Defra figures.

The English ‘waste from households’ recycling rate was 44.16% in 2013, up from 44.11% in 2012, the smallest annual increase since the UK committed to a 50% target by 2020.

Defra’s director for resource & waste Colin Church, has tweeted key elements of the latest figures:

  • In 2013 total ‘waste from households’ was 403kg per person, down 2.0% on 2012. Total ‘Waste from Households’ was 21.6Mt in 2013.
  • Local authority managed waste to landfill down 62% since 2003/04 to 7.9Mt in 2013/14.
  • Local authority managed waste to EfW up 13% to 6.2Mt in 2013/14 on 2012/13, more than doubled since 2003/04

A Defra press release points out: “The rolling 12 month ‘waste from households’ recycling rate to end March 2014 was 44.5%. This is slightly higher than the 2013 calendar year figure of 44.2%, particularly influenced by organic recycling returning to more typical levels in January to March 2014 against a relatively low level in January to March 2013.”

The quarterly data showing local authority performance, South Oxfordshire District Council has claimed top spot for the highest dry recycling and composting rate.

The council, whose contractor is Biffa, achieved 65.71% for 2013-14, pipping last year’s number one, Rochford, which returned 65.47%.

South Oxfordshire had consistently been second in the annual league table since 2010, the year after the authority and neighbour Vale of White Horse District Council launched a new joint collection service. The Vale recorded 65.27%.

The biggest year-on-year increase was achieved by Ashford Borough Council, another Biffa contract, where the rate shot up from 12% in 2012/13 to 42% this year.

Jacob Hayler, economist for the Environmental Services’ Association said: “The latest statistics from Defra show the continuation of a worrying trend. Far from stepping back from waste-related issues, Defra needs to be making fresh interventions. Wales has shown that it can be done and we now need England to raise its game if we are to avoid EU infraction proceedings for missing our targets.”

David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Sita UK, said: “Active leadership and a policy sea-change is needed at national government level to put the country’s recycling performance back on an upward trend.
The slight increase in annual recycling rates is largely a result of greater public participation in some key, heavily populated, urban local authorities, which have made significant improvements from a very low base by seizing the political initiative”.

The ‘waste from households’ calculation was first published by Defra in May 2014 for statistical purposes to provide an indicator with a comparable calculation in each of the four UK countries and a consistent approach to report recycling rates at UK level on a calendar year basis under the Waste Framework Directive.

‘Waste from households’ excludes local authority collected waste types not considered to have come directly from households, such as street bins, street sweepings, parks and grounds waste and compost like output.

 

 

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