Recycling still below 14% at 'worst' councils
Ashford Borough Council in Kent has been named as England's worst performing council when it comes to recycling, while Surrey Heath Borough is the best.
The gap in performance is considerable, with Ashford achieving a recycling rate of just 13.68%, while Surrey Heath delivered 39.22%.
Severe cuts to council budgets have been blamed, but there are many councils who have simply "taken their eye off the ball", according to one national waste company.
The statistics have been published as part of the government WasteDataFlow service, which showed that North Warwickshire Borough Council (13.86%) in the Midlands and Southampton City Council (13.91%) in Hampshire also registered recycling rates of below 14% in the 12 months of 2012.
BusinessWaste.co.uk 's commercial manager Mark Hall said the excuses of the worst performers are "wearing thin".
"In some cases we're convinced that councils have slashed back their waste collection budgets, and recycling rates have plummeted as a result," he said.
"Some councils have simply taken their eye off the ball in recent years, and have just let things slide."
Hall conceded that some councils may have issues that prevent higher rates - the relatively isolated position of the Isles of Scilly, for instance.
In its defence, Ashford council launched an improved recycling service in July, which it claims will improve collection rates dramatically. Its website states that the new service "will bring Ashford's recycling performance from 14% to 37% by 2014/15".
The 10-year, £86m, waste collection service is being run in partnership with Maidstone Borough Council and Swale Borough Council. The new contractor is Biffa Municipal, which works with a number of top performing councils.
At the other end of the table, Vale of White Horse District Council (37.27%), South Oxfordshire District Council (36.95%), Darlington Borough Council (36.94%) and Uttlesford District Council (35.47%) all managed to recycle more than 35% of the waste they collected.