Environment: Recycling is a wasted effort

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Homes in England and Wales recycled or composed just 6.5 per cent of their garbage in 1995/96, according to a Government report yesterday. It looks increasingly likely that its target of recycling a quarter of household rubbish by 2000 will be missed.

The findings came in the first annual survey of household and municipal waste collection in England and Wales. Local councils collected almost 26 million tonnes of municipal waste in that year and just over 90 per cent came from homes,. The average house produced a little more than a tonne a year and homes issued with the larger ``wheelie bins'', given more space to fill, generated more rubbish.

Of the household waste collected for recycling 37 per cent consisted of paper and card, 24 per cent of glass, and 1 per cent of steel and aluminium cans.

In the year of the survey one sixth of homes were covered by kerbside collection schemes, which pick up recyclable paper or glass and sometimes plastic and cans from outside the front door once a week - the proportion has grown since then. Recycling rates were lowest in London and the large conurbations.