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England’s recycling ‘might actually’ be increasing

England’s recycling tonnage may not have fallen in the past year, waste specialist Peter Jones has suggested.

Analysing Defra’s latest local authority figures in a blog for Isonomia, Eunomia’s principal consultant says the increasing accuracy of the reporting of rejected loads could be a significant factor in the unprecedented decline in the overall recycling rate in December.

In 2015-16, 19 fewer councils reported low contamination – meaning less than 2% of loads were rejected – compared with the year before. Since 2011-12, 62 fewer have reported low contamination.

Jones says the increase in rejected loads during the past year is double the reported fall in dry recycling, and accounts for 27% of the 322,000-tonne increase in waste not recycled.

He says the introduction of WasteDataFlow question 100, which requires councils to report the final destination of all their collected household waste, could mean more rejected loads are reported in future.

The blog says: “Rejects may have been under-reported in previous years and most likely remain so. If this is the case, a greater tonnage of household waste may actually have been recycled this year than last.”

Jones’ analysis also finds that councils with kerbside sort systems reported a 10% increase in recycled tonnage while most other schemes, including commingling, dropped.

Limited council funds mean that reduced residual waste collections could be the only realistic way local authorities are going to boost recycling, he says.

Bury and Rochdale are given as examples of councils that increased recycling rates after moving to three-weekly collections.

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