Government report shows further increases in municipal waste in England and Wales

According to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions’ (DETR’s) latest statistics, even a significant increase in recycling has been unable to prevent greater use of landfill.

The Municipal Waste Management Statistics 1999/00, show that although there has been a corresponding increase in the proportion of municipal waste being recycled or composted from 8.8% in 1998/99 to 10.3% in 1999/00, there was an increase in the absolute amount disposed of to landfill in one year from 23 million tonnes to 23.7 million tonnes. However, the proportion of waste being disposed of as landfill has decreased by one percentage point to 81% of the total 29.3 million tonnes of waste accumulated in England and Wales. This represents a considerable increase from the 27.9 million tonnes accumulated in 1998/9. In both years, around 90% of the municipal waste arisings came from household sources

The survey, which is based on information supplied by local authorities in England and Wales, and had a response rate of 99%, also reveals that households are accumulating more waste year-on-year. In 1999/00 the average municipal waste arisings per household were 26 kg per week, an increase of 1kg from 1998/99.

The proportion incinerated with energy recovery has remained constant at 8%, an amount which Greenpeace finds unacceptable and has criticised Labour policy on incineration in a recent report (see related story). In total, just over 5.5 million tonnes, or 19% of municipal waste had some sort of value through recycling, composting or energy recovery recovered from it in 1999/00, compared with 4.9 million tonnes, or 17% in 1998/99.

Although nationally in 1999/2000 10.3% of household waste was recycled or composted, there were marked regional differences. The region with the highest recycling and composting rate was South East England, with 16%, while Wales and North East England’s rate was only 6%. Over a quarter of recycled material was collected by kerbside schemes. The municipal waste recovery rate has increased from 17.5% to 19.1% in one year.

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