Statistics published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last week (25th September) have sparked concern over the progress that England is making towards meeting the EU recycling target of 50% by 2020. Defra’s summary of waste statistics from the 2010 - 2012 period has highlighted England’s slow progress towards satisfying the 2020 recycling target with only a minor increase from 2011’s recycling rate of 42.9% to 43.9% in 2012.
The statistics have also revealed that the amount of waste arising from UK households decreased by around one million tonnes from 27 million tonnes in 2010 to around 26 million tonnes in 2012.
Landfill recycling targets
In the same period, the volume of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) that was sent to landfill across the whole of the UK dropped by around 7%. The statistics revealed that 13 million tonnes of BMW was sent to landfill in 2010 which represents 36% of the baseline value of 1995 by which recycling targets are set. It is clear from the statistics that the UK have met the recycling target set under the landfill directive with ease. Targets were set under the landfill directive with the aim of reducing the volume of BMW sent to landfill. The recycling target stated that there should be less than 75% of the 1995 tonnage by 2010. By 2012 the amount of BMW sent to landfill by the UK had dropped to 29%, way below the 35% by 2020 target. It is also estimated that 48 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste was generated in 2012 with 39.4 million tonnes of this produced by England.
Viridor, one of the UK’s largest waste management firms, are currently investing £15 billion into UK waste infrastructure. External affairs director, Dan Cooke, commented on England’s slow progress towards meeting the recycling target stating: “Defra’s figures published today (25th September) confirm that we are still not making the progress required of us and it remains touch and go as to whether the UK will meet the EU’s basic recycling target of 50% by 2020. We must continue to challenge ourselves to do more if the UK is to truly deliver a circular economy.” “Limiting the increasing amounts of poorly-managed waste being ‘exported’ (at a cost) to the EU in particular would support domestic jobs and investment and allow the UK to maximise the potential of a national renewable resource to help power and assist with the UK’s energy security.”
Despite England’s slow progress, Wales have seen positive progression towards meeting recycling targets with 52.5% tonnes of household waste, 10% above the UK average, being recycled in 2012. Carl Sargeant, Wales’ newly appointed natural resources minister commented on the figures: “Wales has long been ambitious to increase our recycling rates, to help generate secondary materials for the Welsh economy. The EU target is to recycle at least 50% by 2020, which we have already comfortably met, and we are already looking towards our Welsh target of 70% recycling by 2025. “Our natural resources ultimately underpin both our economy and our society and increasing the materials we recycle in our homes and businesses is a practical step more and more people in Wales are taking to help protect the wonderful resources we have.”
For further information about recycling targets and the potential value of your waste material please get in touch with the Comply Direct waste team