New digital recycling heatmap illustrates need for ‘new policy’ – Suez

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK has today (26 April) released an interactive digital map of local authority recycling data, showing recycling rates for the 2019/20 financial year and the change over the previous period

After a decade of improvement across UK nationsrecycling rates in England and Scotland plateaued for the fifth consecutive year, with large cities restricting the Uaverage. Suez say this ‘sluggish’ overall trend reiterates the need for extended producer responsibility and a consistent collections policy that makes ‘efficient use of existing kerbside collection systemscapturing a wider range of materials for recycling and helping the rest of the UK match the performance seen in Wales’. 

SUEZ commissioned planning and development consultancy, Lichfields, to produce the map, which colour-codes local authorities across the UK by their recycling rate.

By highlighting the local authorities that are leading the country in recycling, the map also creates a valuable opportunity to learn from their success

The map has been designed to provide users with an easy-to-use, interactive reference tool which will help bring the data to life outside of spreadsheets, hopefully encouraging more engagement and reflection from residents and local authority leaders alike.  

The tool has also been launched with the aim of being a baseline from which to start to measure success, as new policies are implemented following the publication of the Government’s Waste and Resources Plan and the plethora of actions and ongoing consultations.

The online digital toolalso produced between 2014-2017, allows users to click on individual local authorities to view the percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting in the 2019/20 financial year, along with the percent change frothe previous periodThis recycling performance data is based on information submitted to Waste Data Flow and reported by the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) each year.

Visual representation of data

The colour coding of the map aims to group local authorities relative to the national average recycling rate and the UK’s ‘Circular Economy Package’ 2035 target of 65%. Basing the average national recycling rate in the middle of the scale and the target at the top, local authorities falling below 30% have been coloured red, those between 30-40% coloured amber, 40-50% yellow, 50-60% green and those achieving 60%+ have been coloured dark green. 

This visual representation of the data helps show patterns of recycling performance across different regions. Urban areas ofEngland and Scotland, which account for so much of the UK’s population, continue to trend lower, with 14 London local authorities reporting recycling rates of below 30%, along with Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow. Wales continues to lead the way, with 20 local authorities exceeding 60% recycling and Cardiff lagging just behind at 58%.

Based on the most recent officially reported annual statistics, local authorities in England achieved an average recycling performance of around 45.5% while Scotland achieved 44.9%and Wales continues to pull ahead with 65.1%. This represents an increase of 0.4%, 0.2% and 2.3% respectively. If performance continues to improve at this rate, both England and Scotland will fall years short of their respective government’s targets. Decisive policy implementation is needed to kick start recycling gains and once again break out of the plateau. 

Significant opportunity 

John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: With the government consultations oextended producer responsibility and consistent collections taking place this spring, we have a significant opportunity twork across the valuchain and make holistic changes that will maximise the efficiency of existing kerbside collection systems and drive growth in recycling rates across the country. We are releasing this digital tool today to set a clear baseline and to establish a metric to measure our success against as we start to implement these changes over the coming years.

The lacklustre recycling growth reflected on the map just reiterates the importance of the current government consultations and how vital it is that we get these policies right so that we can continue moving forward together.”

Stuart Hayward-Higham, Technical Development Director for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: In order to get our recycling rates where they need to be by 2035, we need a clear understanding of where they are now

“This digital tool helps us improve our understanding by visualising patterns and areas that are underperforming so that we can pinpoint obstacleslike demographic differences or geographic challenges, anmake informed changes to address them. By highlighting the local authorities that are leading the country in recycling, the map also creates a valuable opportunity to learn from their success.

The interactive digital map is now available here.

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