Figures published by Defra show that municipal waste fell from 29.1m to 28.8m tonnes by the end of last year and the amount being landfilled had fallen from 16.9 to 15.8 tonnes.

The volume of household waste in collections also decreased from 25.8m to 25.6m tonnes, while residents boosted recycling from 30.9% to 33.9% between January and December.

The average amount of residual household waste per head in 2007 was 334kg compared to 353kg per head between April 2006 and March 2007.

Ministers said the statistics – which have yet to be finalised – are evidence that the efforts of local authorities and householders to cut waste are paying off.

“My postbag is full of letters from people saying they want to recycle more,” Waste Minister Joan Ruddock said.

“But unless they know their efforts are making a real difference, they won’t keep trying. That’s why statistics like these are so important.

“The figures published today are provisional – we will know the full picture by the end of the year – but the early results show those efforts continue to be worthwhile.”

Councillor Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment Board, said: “While these figures are another step in the right direction, there is still much more to do.

“Britain is the dustbin of Europe and dumps more waste into the ground than any other country in the EU. This is costing the council taxpayer dearly in landfill taxes.

“Councils are still facing fines of up to £3bn if we do not dramatically reduce the amount of waste thrown into landfill.

“It is vital we look at alternatives to the status quo to deliver an ever better deal for the taxpayer.”

Final figures will be released in November. The provisional data can be found here on Defra’s website.

Kate Martin

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