Over the span of 12 years, Wales has reduced the amount of resources it was sending to landfill by over 1.1 million tonnes, saving over £83m in landfill tax.

Welcoming the figures, Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said: “I’m very pleased to see the recycling rate continuing to increase in Wales. Local authorities have worked hard to encourage households to increase the amount they recycle and that seems to be making a difference. 

“The decrease in non-recycled household waste is also very welcome news. To see this fall to 47 kilograms per person, for the January to March quarter of 2015, shows good progress in reducing this waste across Wales and means we have less than ever going to landfill.”

Figures also highlight that 80% of the country are currently satisfied with local authorities’ efforts in regards to recycling.

The Welsh Government’s current waste strategy, Towards Zero Waste, has set a target of 70% recycling and composting of municipal waste by 2025. Zero Waste Wales, part of the Zero Waste Alliance, was established to help the country reach that target, and to promote positive alternatives to landfill and incineration.

Commenting on these latest recycling figures, a spokesperson for Zero Waste Wales said: “This is the seventh consecutive year for such progress and is evidence that the people of Wales are getting to grips with this major change in the way we deal with waste.

“In 2003, Wales recycled 3% -we were bottom of the league in Europe – now, a dozen years later we are fourth closing on third. That is a magnificent achievement. In 2003 we buried nearly 1.8 million tonnes of valuable resources – this last year we buried or burned less than 675,000 tonnes.”

The results come after the Welsh Government announced which organisations would share £22m of funding for environment and sustainability initiatives.

Flat-lining neighbours

Despite Wales’ continued recycling growth, things aren’t as positive for other members of the UK. The below table – produced as part of edie’s ‘Sustainable Six Nations’ coverage earlier this year – highlights the recycling rates of the home nations for 2014.

England’s recycling rates increased from 43.9% to 45% in the 12 months to September 2014 last year, but the country is still below the EU commissioned target of 52%. Scotland’s recycling rates were at 42% for 2014, with only nine of Scotland’s 32 local authorities meeting the 50% target.

Every year, the UK throws away seven million tonnes of food, and millions more tonnes of electrical goods. Two million TVs are thrown away in the UK annually, even though sets are typically made up of 6% metal and 50% glass, which could be recycled. 

Matt Mace

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