Figures for 2011/12 released by Defra revealed that 43% (10.7 million tonnes) of waste collected by local authorities was sent for recycling, composting or re-use, compared to 37% (9.6 million tonnes) which went to landfill.
‘An increase in the amount of waste incinerated may have partly accounted for the change in landfill,’ says Defra.
Although this is the highest recycling rate recorded for England, the rate of increase has been levelling off, with 2011/12 being the lowest year-on-year increase for ten years.
This levelling out of improvement could mean that authorities have achieved the easy wins in terms of recycling and are finding it increasingly difficult to influence behaviour change.
However, the fact that some authorities achieve a much higher rate signals that it is possible. The highest rate achieved by a council was 69%, whereas the lowest was 14%.
Defra comments on this disparity by saying that it ‘reflects geo