Thursday, 27 November 2014

London recylcling rates fall for first time in 13 years

Annual recycling statistics just released by Defra show a shake-up in the nation’s local authority recycling rankings.

National recycling and resource management company, SITA UK, has produced a map of the UK, which shows visually how each local authority compares to its neighbours. Both are available to download from the link and may be reproduced for editorial use:

SITA UK provides analysis and relative local authority performances within the England regions as defined by Defra, all derived from Government statistics s based on the new annual data for the financial year to the end of March 2014.

London by numbers in 2013/14:
  • 33.9%: average household recycling rate for 33 London boroughs v 34.0% in 2012/2013
  • 43.5%: average household recycling rate for England v 43.2% in 2012/2013
  • 4/33: London boroughs above national average v six in 2012/2013
  • 55.2%: Bexley highest London household recycling rate second year running
  • 4.4 percentage point annual rise to 49.2% for Harrow in 2013/2014, the biggest rise
  • 17.65%, Newham falls to lowest London household recycling rate

The London picture 
First fall in London household recycling rates in 13 years 

The London region continues to be one of England’s lowest performers in terms of average household recycling rates, and for the first time since records began in 2000/2001 has recorded an annual decline, after falling from 34.0% in 2012/2013 to 33.9% in the year to end March 2014. Average household recycling rates across all the capital's 33 boroughs are now back to where they were in 2010/11, despite some individual improvements in some of the outer-lying London local authorities.

Only four boroughs achieved rates above national average household recycling rates of 43.5% during 2013/14: Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Kingston upon Thames. 

The highest percentage point annual improvement in 2013/14 came from the London borough of Harrow - up 4.4 percentage points to 49.2% - which was already achieving recycling rates above the national average in 2012/13. This improvement from an existing relatively high level shows that a concerted policy drive at local level, including a separate collection for food and green waste, can allow closer progress to the 50% UK target for household recycling rates agreed with the EU for 2020.

The bottom seven performing London borough councils all suffered a year-on-year decline in household recycling rates: Barking and Dagenham; Lambeth; Westminster; Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Lewisham, Newham.

The national picture

 The household recycling figures for England’s local authorities continue to paint a picture of a nation stuck in the doldrums when it comes to recycling – with the national average recycling rate flat-lining around 44% for the second year in a row.

The average household recycling rate in England grew from 43.2% in 2012/13 to 43.5% in 2013/14 placing the UK on a trajectory likely to fall short of the EU-imposed target of 50% by 2020.

Over the past financial year to end March 2014 the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside and Eastern regions of England improved their recycling rates but recycling rates actually fell across the other English regions including the South West and the heavy urban areas of London and both the West Midlands and East Midlands.

SITA UK Chief Executive Officer, David Palmer-Jones said:

 “With dwindling recycling rates and less than six years to go, the risk of the UK missing its EU target of a 50% household recycling rate by 2020 is increasing.

Despite a small annual increase in England’s household recycling rate, the pace of improvement is still far off that required to put the UK back on a greener path to resource security.

Greater focus is needed to drive change within large urban areas including Greater London, the South East and the Midlands – home to a large share of the country’s population - because small improvements in these areas could leverage a far greater rise in overall national recycling rates.

Active leadership and a policy sea change is needed at national government level to put the country’s recycling performance back on a faster upward trend.

We believe that minimum targets for local authority recycling rates, alongside financial support from Government to achieve them – through better communication and infrastructure - will help local authorities meet our national targets.”

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