Latest Figures Suggest England’s Recycling Rates Are Rising

Friday, February 13, 2015

Latest Figures released from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that council recycling rates in England reached their highest recorded level in Spring last year.

The figures show that the quarterly waste from household recycling rate reached 48.5% in the three month period from April to June 2014.  This is the highest rate achieved for an April to June period since reporting of this measure first began in 2010. 

The figures equate to around 3.3 million tonnes of waste being sent for recycling.  

Defra also report that the rates for household recycling, which also include composting and preparing for reuse, rose to 44.9% in the 12 months between June 2013 and June 2014, which is an increase from 44% reported between June 2012 and June 2013.

This rolling 12 month figure is also up from the 44.2% annual figure which Defra released for the calendar year 2013.

There were also positive figures relating to the disposal of local authority waste to landfill and incineration, which fell by 2.3% between June 2013 and June 2014, whilst the amount of food waste being send for composting or treatment by anaerobic digestion has gradually increased and was 11.3% higher in April to June 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.

In total 1.58 million tonnes of waste was sent for landfill in April to June 2014, compared to 1.89 million tonnes in the corresponding period one year earlier.

However, Defra has also reported that the total waste generated by household in the 12 months to June 2014 had increased by 2.5%, compared to the previous 12 months to June 2013.  This represents an increase from 21.6 million tonnes to 22.2 million tonnes.

These latest statistics also show that 1.5 million tonnes of green waste was collected and treated on behalf of councils in the first quarter of 2014/15, compared to 1.29 million tonnes 12 months earlier.  They also show that the amount of ‘other organics’, which includes green garden waste, mixed garden waste mixed food waste and wood for composting, rose by 7.3% from 3.6 million tonnes to 3.9 million in the 12 months to 2014, compared to the previous 12 months to June 2013.

Defra says that this increase in waste is mainly due to a rise in ‘other organics’, such as green waste, which are increasingly being sent for composting.  They also attribute the increase to a warmer than average spring that was experienced across England in 2014.  According to the Met Office, average temperatures in England were 3.0˚C warmer in spring 2014 than in 2013.  

While this improvement will come as welcome news to local authorities and many in the waste sector, it is unlikely to dispel fears that councils in England could miss the EU’s mandatory recycling target of 50% by 2020.

Defra itself has acknowledged that the target could be difficult to meet on the current trajectory and has recognised that significant work is still required in order to increase recycling rates across England, and the wider UK.

The Full Report from Defra can be viewed here.

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