The latest household waste recycling rate for England has increased, but this is almost entirely due to a decision to include the percentage of metal recovered and recycled within incinerator bottom ash (IBA).
The 2016 recycling rate was 44.9%, up 0.6 percentage points from a 2015 rate of 44.3%, to which IBA has now been added. With IBA excluded, the 2016 figure was 44.2%, 0.4 percentage points higher than 2015.
In an explanatory note on the date, Defra says the metal element of the IBA accounted for 0.7 percentage points in 2016.
The total volume of household waste increased by 2.5% from 2015 to 22.8 million tonnes in 2016.
The recycled total rose 3.8% to 9.8 million tonnes in the same period. Residual waste rose 1.3% to 12.5 million tonnes.
The rate for the local authority collected waste for the 2016-17 financial year, which does not include IBA, was 42.8%, up 0.4 percentage points on the year before.
Around 15.7% of all local authority waste went to landfill in 2016-17.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council had the highest ‘household waste’ recycling rate at 65%, with nearly half of its recycling comprising green/organic waste. South Oxfordshire District Council and Rochford District Council both achieved 64% ‘household waste’ recycling rates.
Total waste from households includes dry recycling/preparing for reuse and organics. It also includes residual waste (or ‘black bag’ waste) and rejects from recycling. IBA metal is included in the recycling figures from April 2015.
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Suez:
“To reverse declines radical policy change is needed and targeted at the most populous areas - England and in particular London and the South East. London has the lowest household recycling rate at 33%, the most recent 12 month rolling figures for the financial year ending March 2017 reveal. Without a sudden increase in recycling rates for England, which accounts for the vast majority of all of the UK’s waste from households, the UK is set to miss the 50% target for household recycling by 2020. Some areas have shown high performance can be achieved.
“A clear national strategy to end stalling rates of recycling is still required. To increase household recycling rates, government needs to integrate waste and recycling planning into a modern industrial strategy which values the things we throw away as raw materials for manufacturing, and as an energy resource.
”Britain has an opportunity in Brexit, potentially free from EU edicts and chasing misplaced weight-based recycling targets, to lead the world in resource-efficiency by making sure that producers are responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products and packaging – and are therefore taking a greater interest in what they are made from, how they are made and how they can get them back once the consumer has finished with them.”