By Will Date
Data on the amount of waste collected and recycled by local authorities to the end of 2013 was published by Defra today (August 7) and could raise questions over the Departments approach to raising recycling rates in line with EU targets.
The statistics for the third quarter of 2012/13 show that the amount of waste recycled or composted by local authorities stood at 42.7%, slightly higher than the rate achieved in the corresponding quarter in 2012 41.5%.
Crucially the figures give an overall picture of the recycling performance for the 2013 calendar year, and show that there was only a fractional improvement on the performance in 2012. According to the data, the recycling rate rose by 0.1% from 44.1% at the end of 2012 to 44.2% in 2013.
The rate at which the recycling rate is increasing is likely to be of concern to Defra, with progress still to be made to meet the 50% by 2020 EU recycling target.
It has largely been acknowledged that England has made good progress in growing its recycling rate from around 5% in the mid 1990s to its current level above 40%. But improvements have slowed greatly in recent years, with the flatlining recycling rate seen as a significant hurdle for English councils to overcome.
The government itself has acknowledged that the rate of growth achieved up to the end of 2011/12 would be insufficient to meet the 2020 target (see letsrecycle.com story).
‘We will continue to work with local authorities and industry to promote good practice and look at how recycling can be made more convenient for residents.’
Since the publication of the last quarterly figures in May (see letsrecycle.com story) the European Commission has also signalled its intention to increase the recycling target still further, with an ambition to have Member States recycling at least 70% by 2030, although these plans have yet to be formally approved by politicians.
Commenting today, a spokesman for the Department said: The UK has made tremendous progress over the last 10 years as these figures show we are producing less waste than ever before and the overall amount sent to landfill and incineration is reducing year on year.
We will continue to work with local authorities and industry to promote good practice and look at how recycling can be made more convenient for residents.
England’s household waste recycling rate to Dec 2013
Todays data shows that the total waste produced by households dropped 1.8% to 21.6 million tonnes in 2013, amounting to an average waste generation of 403 kg per person.
Over 40% of that recycled comprised of organic waste, either separately collected food waste or garden waste. In total, the amount of food waste collected in 2013 rose by 18.7%, while the volume of garden waste dropped by 6%. The dry recycling rate increased by just 0.4% when compared to 2013.
The total amount of waste managed by local authorities fell by 1.3% to 25 million tonnes in 2013, although this was coupled with a small rise in October to December 2013, when compared to the same period for the previous year.
Full 2012/13 figures will be available in November 2014.