The latest Defra figures recorded for the 12 month period to March 2015 show the rate of recycling from waste from households in England was 44.7%, up year-on-year by just 0.2% from 44.5% for the 12 months to March 2014 – and according to Suez analysis of Defra statistics arise from 44.2% for the prior year to end March 2013.
The recycling rate for the latest recorded quarter for January to March 2015 stands at 39.4%. According to Defra “the dry recycling has remained relatively stable while organic recycling has fallen slightly but still within the natural year to year variation.”
The England waste from households figures make a significant contribution to whether the UK will meet the EU target to recycle at least 50% of waste generated by households by 2020, according to Suez.
Its analysis of official figures also reveals that one of the sharpest regional decline in England came from the most populous area, with London showing a second successive annual decline in its household recycling rate for the year to March 2015, down to 33.1% for the year to end March 2015, from 33.9% recorded for the year to end March 2014 which itself was the first fall in 10 years after peaking at 34% in the year to end March 2013.
Only the East Midlands recorded a steeper regional fall than London in household recycling rates, down 1.2% to 45.2% for the year to end-March 2015, the second successive annual fall and leaving recycling rates for the East Midlands back to levels last seen five years ago.
David Palmer-Jones, CEO for SUEZ recycling and recovery in the UK, said: “Over the past financial year to end March 2015 England improved its recycling rate by 0.2% year on year to 44.7% but this is the second year which has seen only low decimal point improvements for the country which makes the task of strategic drive and vision to reach the 50% EU target by 2020 ever more urgent.
“For the UK to achieve its agreed EU target of 50% recycling rates for household waste, England has to improve its performance and Suez believes this is still possible provided some key changes are taken in the way waste is collected at the doorstep. Suez recommends the introduction of mandatory separate food waste collections once a week and the collection of residual ‘black bag’ waste fortnightly which, taken together, could add 6% to local authority recycling rates. SUEZ also recommends pay-as-you-throw schemes, where households would be charged for the weight of the black bag waste collected.
David Palmer-Jones – “Greater focus is needed within large urban areas, such as Greater London and parts of the Midlands which have at best remained static or at worst showed significant declines in recycling over the past two years…”
“Greater focus is needed within large urban areas, such as Greater London and parts of the Midlands which have at best remained static or at worst showed significant declines in recycling over the past two years and these regions and given the weighting of population, determine the ability of the UK overall to meet its 2020 50% target.
“Wales has shown the rest of the UK that reaching, and now comfortably surpassing, the key 50% EU target is eminently achievable once clear coherent strategy is put in place from the top down. Wales household recycling rates hit 56.2% in 2014/15, the first time a nation in the UK has gone above 55%, and represent a consistent improvement year-on-year.
“The performance of Wales and other European countries such as Germany and Belgium prove that the EU’s targets are within reach. The big question is whether today’s Defrafigures will finally be the catalyst needed to drive the country’s policy-makers to implement the big changes required to hit our 2020 deadline just as new targets are being drawn up this week by the European Commission for 2030.”