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English household recycling up again

Defra’s latest figures for household waste in England show that the proportion sent for recycling, composting or reuse has gone up from 41.5% to 42.9%.

The generation of household waste decreased in the same period, down 0.9% to 23.2m tonnes.

The period covered in the Defra report is the financial year April 2010 to March 2011 and include provisional estimates of local authority collected waste generation and management for England for the third quarter of 2011/12 .

Other headlines from the report include:

  • Collected waste sent to landfill by local authorities fell 11% to 10.1m tonnes between the financial year 2010/11 and the rolling (calendar) year January to December 2011.
  • Total amount of local authority collected waste decreased by 1.4% to 25.8m tonnes between the financial year 2010/11 and the rolling (calendar) year January to December 2011.
  • Proportion of local authority collected waste being recycled, composted or reused continued the long-term trend, increasing from 40.4% in the financial year 2010/11 to 41.9% in the rolling (calendar) year January to December 2011.
  • Proportion of local authority collected waste going to landfill between January to December 2011 was 39%, half of the 78% figure for 2001/02.

Mark Foxall, vice chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee said: “It’s encouraging to see England’s waste management performance continuing to improve and is testament to the hard work of everyone involved in the industry and of course England’s households.   

“However, the target of 50% recycled or composted by 2020 is not far away and so the rate of improvement needs to be at least maintained, as anyone in the industry will tell you, each 1% rise in performance becomes increasingly more difficult to achieve.  England does not want to rest solely on the ambitions of our UK nations to carry the UK’s performance forward.”

Philip Ward, former local government director at Wrap said: “Local authorities should be congratulated on this further increase in recycling and composting rates and corresponding reduction in the waste going to landfill. Important though this is, the story is moving on and we need to focus more on the quality of recycling and the part it can play in meeting domestic resource needs.”

A spokesman for the Environmental Services Association said: “We are pleased to see that household recycling has increased to 43% and that the proportion of local authority collected waste disposed of into landfill has gone down by another 11%.

“However, these provisional statistics also remind us that we still send over 10 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year, and suggest that increases in recycling rates may be slowing.

“The UK is still some way away from reaching the EU target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020 and we all need to do more. ESA’s members are keen to work with local authorities to continue driving recycling rates upward.”

  • The statistics are based on data from all local authorities in England entered in the WasteDataFlow system. Final estimates for 2011/12 will be published in November.

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