Carbon savings from recycling hit record levels

Council recycling services in England saved 4% more greenhouse gas emissions in 2013/14 than in 2012/13, thanks mainly to increased captures of metals and plastics.

That’s according to the third annual Recycling Carbon Index Report from consultancy firm Eunomia, which shows that 64% of England’s local authorities increased their emissions savings over the past year, despite a levelling off of the country’s recycling rate performance.

Wales and Northern Ireland faired even better, reducing overall emissions by an additional 6%, and 7% respectively.

Efficient services

Eunomia director James Fulford said: “It’s really encouraging to see the improvement in performance between 2012/13 and 2013/14, particularly set against plateauing recycling rates in England.

“It highlights the importance of considering the full environmental impacts of recycling services. It’s vital that we have efficient collection services that effectively maximise environmental performance. The report will help waste managers to identify good practice and understand where to focus efforts to improve the environmental performance of their services.”

In England, Cheshire West and Chester retained their position at the top of the table, having improved their performance by 11kg CO2e per person. In Wales, Flintshire saved an additional 21kg CO2e per person in 2013/14 compared to the previous year, jumping from sixth place to first. And in Northern Ireland, Larne improved its performance to stay at the top of the index.

Eunomia noted that the recycling of metal and plastics was critical to the overall improvement in all three countries. In 2013/14, 1.7 million tonnes of carbon were saved as a result of recycling these materials, which have higher levels of embodied carbon than other recycling such as paper, card or glass.


In other UK recycling news today, a new report from Zero Waste Scotland has concluded that more community action is needed to prevent local litter problems and reduce Scotland’s reliance on constant nationwide clean-ups. 

The cost of cleaning up litter and flytipping in Scotland currently stands at £45m each year.

Luke Nicholls

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