England’s recycling rate creeps upwards

28th November 2019 | Recycling

England’s household waste recycling rate has risen marginally by 0.3% to 45.1% in the 2018/19 financial year, compared to 44.8% in the previous period. Official figures released this morning (28 November) also show that East Riding of Yorkshire was again the council with the highest recycling rate at 65%, while Newham had the lowest at 17%. Lewes district council saw the biggest jump in its recycling rate for the year, moving from 27% to 40%.

According to the Defra statistics, the national recycling rate increase was boosted by a rise of 0.6% in the tonnage of dry recycling, which includes Incinerator Bottom Ash (ISA). Dry recycling includes paper and card, glass, plastic, WEEE, scrap metals including those reclaimed from IBA, as well as other materials. However, the amount of organics sent for recycling decreased by 0.5%, largely due to a 16.7% drop in tonnage during the summer of 2018 “which saw long periods of hot weather, stunting plant growth,” Defra said.


While an increase will be welcomed by Defra, it means England’s recycling rate returns to the same level it was during the 2016/17 year, with rates plateauing over the last eight years. Looking at individual local authority data, the figures show that East Riding of Yorkshire was top for the third year running, achieving a 65% recycling rate an increase of 0.5%. It was closely followed by South Oxfordshire and Three Rivers, which both achieved 63%.

Meanwhile at the other end of the scale, despite Newham’s recycling rate increasing by 2.9% to 17%, it remains the worst performing council. The second lowest “household waste” recycling rate was recorded by Barrow-in-Furness borough council with a rate of 19%, while Westminster was the third worst performing on 22%, up from 18.8% last year. This means that Westminster and Barrow-in-Furness have swapped places in the bottom three from last year’s data.

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