Defra seeks ‘further measures’ to boost England’s recycling rate

WRAP is to be brought in by Defra to find out what more can be done to boost recycling rates in England, after the latest annual figures published today revealed that England’s household waste recycling rate increased by merely 0.3% between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

The call for help comes after the latest annual figures published today showed that 43.5% of household waste was recycled, reused or composted in the 2013/14 financial year, representing a fractional increase from 43.2% in 2012/13.

Recycling rates in England are stagnating, according to the latest figures
Recycling rates in England are stagnating, according to the latest figures

The figures, which are compiled from data submitted by local authorities to the WasteDataFlow database, mean that this is the second year running when recycling rates have crawled upwards, with a mere 0.2% performance being recorded between 2011/12 and 2012/13 (see story) and have sparked further fears that the UK could miss its target to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020 under the revised Waste Framework Directive.

But, the statistics for the first time also include data for ‘waste from households’ –  a narrower version of the ‘household waste’ measure which excludes waste types not considered to have come directly from households, such as street sweepings – showing a slightly higher recycling rate of 44.5% for 2013/14.

This is important because this is the measure by which constituent parts of the UK will report their progress against the EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD) target, meaning that England is effectively 1% closer to its goal.


England’s lack of progress in recycling comes in contrast to Wales, which last week reported a 54.3% municipal waste recycling rate for 2013/14– a rise of 2 percentage points compared to the year before (see story).

England’s performance was also buoyed by what Defra described as “organic recycling returning to more typical levels in January to March 2014 against a relatively low level in January to March 2013”, when cold weather hit organic waste volumes.


Commenting on the English annual statistics, a spokeswoman for Defra said that the government remained “committed” to the 50% recycling target but that it would be seeking help from WRAP on what further measures may need to be taken to achieve this.

She said: “These latest figures show waste going to landfill continues to fall, reflecting continued hard work by local authorities and a desire from householders to recycle more.

“We remain committed to recycling 50% of our household waste by 2020 and continue to support local authorities’ efforts to promote recycling. We are also working with WRAP to see what more we can do and what further measures may be needed to achieve this.”

HouseholdWasteRecyclingRateGraph (2)Landfill

Today’s figures also show that local authority managed waste to landfill has fallen by 62% since 2003/04, with steady year-on-year decreases and was 7.9 million tonnes in 2013/14.

Meanwhile, local authority managed waste going for incineration with energy recovery increased by 13% when compared to 2012/13, to 6.2 million tonnes in 2013/14.

Looking at individual local authorities, South Oxfordshire district council recorded the highest household waste recycling and composting rate in 2013/14 at 65.7%, while at the bottom of the table the London borough of Newham recorded 17.6%.

Related Links

English local authority waste statistics 2013/14


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