Recently released data from the government has shown that UK household recycling rates increased during 2014, climbing up to 45% and putting the country within genuine reach of the EU’s target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020.
Small Gains In UK Recycling Rate
The data was for the 12 months to September 2014, rising just over 1% from the 43.9% recycling rate which was achieved over the same period during the previous year. This gradual increase has seen the rate rise from 41% in 2010 to the 45% achieved last year.
The performance also meant that the amount of local authority managed waste going to landfill or incineration during the 12 months to September last year fell two per cent year-on-year. However many waste and recycling services in the industry are concerned that the speed of progress has slowed down, stalling any greater increases which many had hoped for.
This concern is shown in the data as the increases can be broken down into 3 month periods, with the period from July to September last year climbing just 0.1 of a percentage point, while the amount of waste generated by households over the course of the year grew 4% over the 12 month period.
Jakob Rindegren, recycling policy advisor at the Environmental Services Association, welcomed the improvement in recycling rates, but spoke of fears that the trend may struggle to continue.
“Given recycling market turbulence in the last six to nine months, it may be the case that we haven't been able to sustain this improved performance since September,” he said in a statement. “ESA strongly encourages the new UK Government to work with all parts of the supply chain to make sure the downturn is as short-lived as possible.”
The new government has a lot of work to do to convince the waste and recycling industry that it is ready to take bigger steps in the right direction. The last government came under criticism from many over Defra's decision to slash spending on waste-related services, resistance from Ministers to calls for a resource security review and a number of other issues.
The figures from the last five years do not give us promising signs for meeting our recycling target in 2020 set by the EU. It is hoped that with new majority government in place, long awaited regulations will be brought in over the coming years which will give us the best chance of meeting our targets and keeping up with other EU countries.
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