The delayed figures come in data released today (24 March 2023) by the waste statistics team at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
While the small rise will be welcomed, it is not enough to wipe out the 1.7 percentage point drop recorded between 2019/20 and 2020/21, meaning England’s recycling rate remains behind pre-Covid levels.
The 44.1% recycling rate for 2021/22 is for ‘waste from households’, which includes IBA metals. This is the official recycling measure used as the basis for reporting at a harmonised UK level.
Defra now makes more use of annual year figures rather than financial year figures, but historically the financial years have been used to reflect trends in the UK. The calendar year rate was also 44.1% in 2021, up 0.1 percentage points from 44.0 per cent in 2020.
Residual household waste volumes in the 2021/22 financial year were 1.4% lower than in 2020/21, down 0.2 million to 12.6 million tonnes.
Dry recycling was 5.8 million tonnes in 2021/22, decreasing by 1.8% from 6 million in 2020/21. Organic recycling increased by 2.1% to 4.2 million tonnes. This increase reflects a “more normal kerbside and HWRC services compared to the lockdown disruptions of 2020/21”.
For all local authority waste, overall waste volumes stood at 26.1 million tonnes.
This includes all ‘waste from households’, street sweepings, municipal parks and gardens waste too.
The statistics show that 8.1% (2.1 million) of this is sent to landfill, up by 4.6%. This increase in landfill reflects higher residual waste generation and some waste being diverted to landfill, due to temporarily lower capacity in the energy from waste sector.
12.4 million tonnes (47.4%) of all local authority waste were incinerated in 2021/22. This represents a decrease of 0.1 million tonnes (0.6%) from 2020/21.
This decrease reflects a tightening of capacity in the sector due to temporary shutdown of energy from waste (EfW) facilities.