11 December 2018 by Joshua Doherty

England’s recycling rate drops – East Riding top again

EXCLUSIVE: England’s recycling rate, including composting, has fallen by 0.3% to 44.8% in the 2017/18 financial year, compared with 45.1% in the previous period.

According to the Defra statistics, released this morning (11 December), the drop was largely due to a “sharp decrease” in the recycling rate in the last quarter of the financial year (Jan- March 2018), which at 39.4%, was 2% down on the same quarter the previous year.

Mirroring previous years, it was the London boroughs achieving the lowest rates, with a combined percentage of 33.1%, with Newham the lowest at 14%, and Westminster (19%) and Lewisham (22%)following. All three have been traditionally low performers.

East Riding of Yorkshire

The best performing council was again East Riding of Yorkshire, which achieved a 64% rate, which although slightly down from last year’s 65.4%, is still the best performing in the country.

South Oxfordshire district council and Rochford district council both achieved 63 % recycling rates, remaining the same from last year.

“These same three local authorities have been the top three performing local authorities in terms of household waste recycling in the 3 years 2015/16 to 2017/18,” the release said.

It added: “Over the last five years, South Oxfordshire district council and Rochford district council have both had an average recycling rate of 65%, while East Riding of Yorkshire, the top performing council this year has averaged 62% over the 5 years.”


This morning’s statistics also showed that 42% of all local authority waste was incinerated.

This amounts to 10.8 million tonnes of local authority managed waste, which consists of all waste the authority handles, an increase of 665,000 tonnes on the previous period. And, incinerator bottom ash metal recycling is now adding near to 1% of the recycling rate, helping to bolster the numbers – in the past the ash recycling was not included.

In terms of landfill, around 12.5% of all local authority managed waste was sent to landfill in 2017/18. This was equivalent to a total 3.2 million tonnes of waste, and 924 thousand tonnes lower than in 2016/17, a fall of 22.3%.

“Landfill tax continues to be the main driver for diverting waste from landfill. Increasing numbers of EfW incineration plants have come on line in recent years and this has provided local authorities with a cheaper alternative to landfill gate fees,” the statistics added.


Overall 138 (40%) of the 345 local authorities in England an increase of 0.1 percentage points or more in their household recycling rate in 2017/18, with 73% of those in the South West showing increases, while the majority of London boroughs showed a decline.

The statistics concluded: “At a regional level there is considerable variation across authorities, influenced heavily by how heavily populated an area is, and the kind of housing and the level of other organic or garden waste collected. For example in built up areas with a high proportion of flats residents may find it difficult or be unwilling to store waste for recycling. Also the same properties will not be producing other organic or garden waste which will significantly reduce recycling levels for those authorities.”

Data source

Data is compiled by WasteDataFlow for Defra using figures submitted by local authorities. The figures can be seen at:
Defra statistical data


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