England outside world top 10 for proportion of waste recycled, figures show

The survey found only Poland, Northern Ireland and France performed worse 

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 12 December 2017 02:26
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Recycling in England has remained stuck at 43 per cent while it has soared to 53.9 per cent in Wales
Recycling in England has remained stuck at 43 per cent while it has soared to 53.9 per cent in Wales

England is languishing behind other parts of the UK and several Asian and Eastern European nations for the proportion of waste recycled.

A global league table puts England in 18th place out 24 developed nations – behind countries such as Slovenia, Taiwan, South Korea, Scotland and Wales.

Germany came out on top with 57 per cent of waste recycled followed by Taiwan on 55.4 per cent and Wales on 53.9 per cent.

Ten years ago England and Wales had similar rates of recycling at 35 per cent of waste but while Wales has made huge progress over the past decade England's progress has stalled at 43 per cent.

The survey, an independent study produced by the Eunomia consultancy taking some data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), found that only Poland, Northern Ireland and France performed worse among European countries.

The recycling rate in England actually fell for the first time since records began between 2014 and 2015 and only rose by 0.6 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

The disappointing figures come following years of cuts to council funding which has seen local authorities cutting back on public services.

Data from recycling charity Wrap found 27 per cent of councils were refusing to take "rigid plastics", which include yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and trays, in 2016-17.

The report found one council was refusing to accept any plastic at all due to budget cuts five years ago.

But other councils which have prioritised recycling, such as the formerly Green-dominated Brighton & Hove, have also seen their recycling rates slashed.

Brighton's recycling rate slipped to 25.8 per cent in 2014 despite the council promising the rate would be 70 per cent by May 2015, the Brighton Argus reported.

Many blamed what they saw as overly strict and confusing rules which led to many households giving up on recycling altogether.

Conservative blogger and Brighton resident Tim Stanley, writing in The Spectator, said he had been "staggered" to find he was facing an up to £50,000 fine for putting plastic in the paper recycling.

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