Municipal waste recycling on the upward trend

The full 2003/04 Municipal Waste Management Survey report for England shows that the total amount of municipal waste has fallen slightly to an estimated 29.1 million tonnes in 2003/04 compared with 29.4 million tonnes in 2002/03, a decrease of one per cent. This was the first time, in recent years, that there has been a reduction in municipal waste arisings.


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The proportion of municipal waste being disposed of at landfill has continued to fall – from 75% cent in 2002/03 to 72% in 2003/04. For the second year in a row the actual tonnage of waste being disposed of in this way has also decreased from 22.1 million tonnes to 20.9 million tonnes.

About 8.1 million tonnes (28%) of municipal waste had some sort of value (recycling, composting, energy recovery, RDF manufacture) recovered from it in 2003/04, up from 7.3 million tonnes (or 24.7%) in 2002/03.

The statistics show that around 87% of municipal waste comes from households, a total of 25.4 million tonnes in 2003/04, representing a 1.5% cent reduction on the previous year. This represented 1.2 tonnes of waste per household per year.

The household recycling rate has increased to 17.7% in 2003/04, up from 14.5% in 2002/03.

The proportion of households served by “kerbside” collection schemes has increased to 79%. The amount of waste collected for recycling through such schemes has increased by 52% compared with the previous year to 1.9 million tonnes in 2003/04. Almost all authorities collected some waste for recycling through kerbside schemes.

Waste for composting remained the most commonly collected material for recycling with 1.4 million tonnes collected (30% of the total recycling) in 2003/04.

Commenting on the figures, the Minister for Local Environment, Ben Bradshaw, said the 2003/04 results were “a step in the right direction”, and he hoped the upwards trend would continue when provisional recycling figures for 2004/05 are released later in the summer.

“In 2003/04, recycling was up over three per cent compared to the previous year, and I hope to see further progress in the 2004/05 data.”

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