October 2005

New figures reveal surge in recycling

London—- Recycling of household waste has doubled in the last four years, according to new provisional figures published by Defra.

The figures show that English households recycled more than a fifth of their waste, (approaching 23%) in 2004-05. They are the first signal of recycling rates in 2004-05 which, though unaudited, provide a good indication of the level being achieved.

Performance around the country varies with, on average, residents in the North East recycling the least (16%) and people in East of England recycling the most (29%). The greatest leap has been in the East Midlands, up 7% on last year to 27%.

Local Environmental Quality Minister, Ben Bradshaw, said: “We’ve doubled the amount we recycle in just four years. These figures prove how much more people understand the importance of recycling compared to even just four years ago.”

According to WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), which runs the Government’s national Recycle Now campaign for England, every household could recycle up to 60% of its waste.

This is reflected in some European recycling rates: Germany recycles 57% of its waste; Netherlands recycles 64%; and Denmark 41% -levels of recycling that some English local authorities, like Lichfield, are already reaching.

WRAP, one of the organizations tasked with improving the UK’s resource efficiency, thinks the key to recycling success lies in maintaining the momentum.

In future, all local authorities will have to maintain and improve their recycling levels. Defra will publish a consultation shortly with proposals for new statutory performance standards for 2007-08.

All authorities are encouraged to continue to perform above any statutory minimum to meet their own local performance standards and to meet Landfill Allowance strategies and landfill tax pressures.

Later in the year, Government will consult, as part of the review of Waste Strategy 2000, on the format and level of any future performance standards for local authorities.

In the meantime, Defra and the WRAP are continuing to work with local authorities and retailers to pilot and roll out new ways - from new technology at recycling ‘bring’ banks to financial incentives such as discount vouchers to get people recycling more.

A new multi-million pilot program of local authority household incentives is due to start in October which will pilot, test and assess various approaches to incentivising household behavior.

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