The UK recycling rate for waste from households (WfH), including incinerator bottom ash metal, was 45.2% in 2016, increasing from 44.6% in 2015, according to new figures published by Defra today (22 February).
The recycling rate for WfH increased in all UK countries in 2016. The recycling rate for England was 44.9%, compared with 43.0% in Northern Ireland, 42.8% in Scotland and 57.3% in Wales.
UK biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) sent to landfill in 2016 was similar to that in 2015, remaining at approximately 7.7m tonnes or 22% of the 1995 baseline value. The UK is therefore still on track to meet the EU target to restrict BMW landfilled to 35% of the 1995 baseline by 2020, Defra says.
“While the UK’s 2016 recycling rate for waste from households shows an improvement over 2015, partly due to the inclusion of IBA metals, it provides further proof that on current policies, the UK will not reach 50% recycling by 2020, let alone the higher rates provisionally agreed at EU level.”
In 2016, 71.4% of UK packaging waste was either recycled or recovered compared to 64.7% in 2015. This exceeds the EU target to recycle or recover at least 60% of packaging waste.
Revised figures estimate UK generation of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste at 41.9m tonnes in 2014, of which 32.8m tonnes was generated in England.
Provisional estimates for England only indicate that waste generation has since fallen to around 32.2m tonnes in 2016.
The Environmental Services Association (ESA) welcomed the revised estimates, but says the latest figures are further proof the UK is likely to not meet the EU target of recycling 50% of municpal waste by 2020.
ESA’s executive director, Jacob Hayler, said: “While the UK’s 2016 recycling rate for waste from households shows an improvement over 2015, partly due to the inclusion of IBA metals, it provides further proof that on current policies, the UK will not reach 50% recycling by 2020, let alone the higher rates provisionally agreed at EU level.
“As ESA has already pointed out, Defra’s impending resources and waste strategy will need to address the issue of sustainable markets for recyclable materials, as well as the UK’s residual waste capacity gap.”
Turning to the revised estimates of arisings of commercial and industrial waste published today, he continued: “ESA and its members welcome the revised figures on commercial and industrial (C&I) waste published today in “UK Waste Statistics”. Last year, ESA members raised concerns about the data published by Defra on this waste stream, which in their view significantly underestimated the amount of waste out there.
“ESA is pleased that by working with the industry, sharing knowledge, and cross checking against other datasets, this year Defra have been able to come up with a much more transparent and reliable approach to estimating the total amount of C&I waste. The new approach tallies better with industry’s own analysis and other data sets, which gives more confidence and clarity around the reported figures, and establishes a better platform for understanding future trends and changes.
“This collaborative work has been particularly important at a time when the UK is looking to develop its own post-Brexit resources and waste strategy and trying to encourage investment in much-needed UK waste infrastructure and services.”