Waste is up but landfill falls

New statistics released by Defra this week show that the amount of waste produced by householders in 2004/05 continued to rise but the tonnage going to landfill dropped.

The statistics give a mixed message, showing that while efforts to force a greater percentage of rubbish up the waste hierarchy and away from landfill seem to be working, the public is failing to take on board the importance of reducing the quantity they produce in the first place.

During the period surveyed municipal waste was up by 800,000 tonnes, a 2.1% increase on the previous year’s figures.

The good news is that a third of that waste had some sort of commercial value, whether as recyclables, compost or fuel for energy from waste plants. This was more than in previous years where the figure was closer to one quarter of the total.

A significantly higher amount of municipal waste was recycled, up to 23.5% compared with 19% in the previous year and Defra was keen to point out that incineration has remained roughly constant at 9%.

Despite the overall increase in waste the tonnage going to landfill was down by 1 million tonnes to 19.9 million tons or, to look at it another way, down from 72% of the total to 67%.

Household waste accounted for 86% of municipal waste and averaged at 513kg per person per year.

Home recycling continued to increase, up almost 5% on last years figures which were themselves up 3% on the preceding year.

The regional breakdown put the East of England ahead of the pack in terms of sustainable waste management, followed by the South West, East Midlands and South East.

The North East had the worst recycling rates in the country at just 15.3%.

A full breakdown of the figures can be found on the Defra website here.

by Sam Bond

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