New recycling figures show improvement

The Government published new figures for recycling this week, claiming that England is recycling more household waste than ever before and is poised to meet its national recycling and composting target of 17% for 2003/04.

In a speech to the Associated Parliamentary Waste Group, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said: “This is positive news. England looks certain to meet its national recycling and composting target, the first time such a target has ever been met. This has been brought about through the commitment of the majority of local councils, a fantastic response from the public and careful targeted Government support.”

The Government has indicated that the 25% recycling target for 2005 is now within reach, despite describing this previously as a “tough challenge”.

Lichfield District Council’s residents were shown as the nation’s biggest recyclers, with over 46% of household waste being recycled or composted, while Fylde Borough Council made the biggest leap. Nearly 30% of household waste was recycled or composted, a rise of 19% on 2002/03 figures.

Mrs Beckett warned that, despite the successes, poor performing councils will face action as single figure recycling rates were “no longer acceptable.”

Friends of the Earth called on the Government to now set more ambitious targets for recycling for 2010 and 2015, currently 30% and 33% respectively.

Recycling campaigner Georgina Bloomfield said: “We are delighted that many local councils have improved their recycling. But, this country still languishes a long way behind many of our European neighbours. The Government must set more ambitious recycling targets. We should be recycling at least 50% of our rubbish by 2010, an achievable target that would give us a recycling record to be proud of.”

The Netherlands, Austria and Germany have recycling rates of 59%, 58% and 53% respectively.

The group also pointed out that over 40% of local councils have failed to meet their individual targets showing that the country still has a long way to go.

By David Hopkins

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