The household recycling rate in Wales has increased to 60% and is now at its highest ever recorded level, new figures show.
Provisional data to the end of March 2016 shows the combined annual recycling and reuse rate was 60%, an increase of four percentage points on the previous year and two points above the new statutory recycling target for Wales of 58%.
This performance woud rank Wales in fourth place if it were a EU member state.
The English recycling rate has plateaued at 44%, making the overall UK target of 50% by 2020 unlikely under the current arrangements.
Environment secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “This is the first year recycling targets have increased beyond the ambitious level of 58%, up from the previous year’s target of 52%. The fact that these figures not only achieve the target but exceed it is highly encouraging, showing we are continually improving our recycling rate.
“It’s clear that local authorities and householders are working hard to recycle, and we are well on the way to achieving our 70% recycling target set for 2025. I am proud that we lead the rest of the UK in our recycling rate but I want us to do even better and become Europe’s best recycling nation.”
Only three out of 22 local authorities failed to reach 58% and have received additional funding from the Welsh Government to help them meet the target: Torfaen (57%), Newport (57%) and Blaenau Gwent (49%)
The figures also show that the amount of waste sent to landfill fell by 37% between 2010 and 2013.