UK not on track to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020

14th February 2019 | Recycling

The UK is not on track to meet EU targets to recycle half of household rubbish by 202, the latest Government data suggests. Figures for 2017 show 45.7% of household waste in the UK was recycled, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said. Under the Waste Framework Directive, members of the EU must meet a target to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020.

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, but Defra said the 2020 target will continue to apply. The figures show the percentage of household waste recycled increased 1.1 percentage points between 2015 and 2017. At this rate, it would take almost four years to reach the EU target of 50%. Provisional figures also showed that recycling of packaging waste dropped 1.2 percentage points since the previous year.

Household Waste

Some 70.2% of UK packaging waste was either recycled or recovered in 2017, compared with 71.4% the previous year. Even with this drop, the UK is comfortably exceeding the EU target to recover at least 60% of packaging waste. One of the biggest increases has been in the recycling of plastic, which reflects increasing public awareness of its impact on the environment.

The amount of plastic being recycled rose more than 8 percentage points in four years, with 46.2% being recycled or recovered in 2017. A Defra spokeswoman said, “While we have made progress, we recognise rates have plateaued in recent years. That’s why through our landmark resources and waste strategy we will overhaul the waste system so we can go further and faster. We will introduce a consistent set of recyclable materials collected from all households in England, including plans for weekly collections of food waste, as well as consistent labelling on packaging to drive up recycling rates.”

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