English households only recycling 11% of waste, confirms government survey

A government report shows that Britain is generating more waste than ever, although a slightly higher proportion of it is being recycled. English households produce over one tonne of waste per year, with only 11% of it being recycled.

The amount of municipal waste generated in England is up 2.7% from last year, with 28 million tonnes being collected, says the Department of Environment report out this week. Recycling, composting and incineration is now carried out on 21% of the waste created, up 1% from last year.

Half of all English households have kerbside recycling collections, with paper and card accounting for a third of all recyclable waste, followed by compostable waste (29%) and glass (14%). Regional households in the south have the highest recycling rates, with the South East recycling 16% of its waste compared with the North East at 4%. A recent Environment Agency survey found that most people would like to recycle more, but were inhibited by inadequate recycling services in their area. Experience has shown that when a doorstep collection service is provided people are more likely to recycle. (see related story).

The UK government recently set up a £140 million Recycling Fund to help local authorities meet their targets of 25% recycled waste by 2005/2006 (see related story). But even with measures such as the Recycling Fund and a Landfill Tax, some local councils may miss their 2005/2006 targets, according to a recent DEFRA Review (see related story). Europe’s Landfill Directive requires that by 2016, landfilled waste should be 35% of the 1995 total.

Technology may yet come to the rescue, with innovative new products such as a mechanical waste sorting system (see related story), and a whole waste management and composting system (see related story) enabling local authorities to sort their waste at landfill sites. The government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme aims to double the amount of plastic bottles being recycled, currently only 3% of the 500,000 tonnes generated annually. WRAP is helping to set up new plastic recycling facilities that will begin processing in 2003, reaching full capacity in 2005 (see related story).

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie