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UK household packaging recycling plateaus

Growth in the UK’s household packaging recycling rate has been faltering in recent years, European statistics indicate.

Some 60.8% of packaging was recycled in 2011 - the latest available data - slightly up from 60.7% in 2010, but down from a peak of 61.8% in 2009, according to figures from Eurostat.

This positioned the UK below the European Union’s average of 63.6%, and far away from the best performers among other member states. For example, Belgium recycled some 80.2% of household packaging in 2011, the Netherlands 71.9%, and Germany 71.8%.

At the bottom of the recycling ranking came Malta, with 42.3%, and Poland, with 41.2%.

Adam Read, practice director, waste management and resource efficiency at Ricardo-AEA, told MRW that the European statistics should be taken “with a pinch of salt” given that countries adopted different methodologies to collect data.

He said that figures for the UK seemed to indicate a flattening trend in packaging recycling, rather than a decrease.

Read pointed out that the UK had experienced some challenging financial times in recent years, leading to less resources being invested in recycling technologies and awareness campaigns. This could explain the slowdown in the packaging recycling rate, he said.

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