Latest data sees England hit 38.8% recycling rate

England achieved a 38.8% household waste recycling rate for the year ending September 2009, according to the latest quarterly data published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


The recycling rate in England hit 38.8% for the year ending September, although the rate of its increase has slowed

The recycling rate in England hit 38.8% for the year ending September, although the rate of its increase has slowed

The figure is drawn from data for the second quarter of 2010 (July to September 2009) submitted to the government’s waste database WasteDataFlow, which showed a 42% household waste recycling rate for the quarter. 

When taken as a 12-month view to limit the impact of seasonal fluctuations, this represents a 38.8% recycling rate, which is a 0.5% improvement on the rolling year for July 2008 to June 2009, where England achieved a 38.3% recycling rate (see story).

Furthermore, the latest rolling year figure is a 2.8% improvement on the same period for 2007/08.
The data also shows that the total municipal waste generated in England decreased by 0.44 million tonnes (1.6%) for the year ending September 2009 compared to the same period the year before. This meant that municipal waste arisings fell from 27.33 million tonnes to 26.89 million tonnes over this period.

In addition, household waste arisings also fell over this period, which dropped from 24.3 million tonnes in 2007/08 to 23.9 million tonnes – a decline of 1.7%. Furthermore, waste to landfill decreased by 5.0% from 13.8 million tonnes to 13.1 million tonnes.

The average residual household waste per person decreased from 295kg for the financial year (April 2008 to March 2009), to 284kg per head between October 2008 and September 2009.

The best performing regions for the rolling year were Eastern England (43%) and the East Midlands (45.2%). These two areas were also the best performing regions for the previous quarter.


When looked at in a wider context, Defra is aiming for England to achieve an average 40% household waste recycling target by 2010, which was set out in the Waste Strategy for England 2007, a target is matched by those for municipal waste set by the devolved governments.

However, the provisional data shows that the continual 3% improvement needed each quarter for England to obtain the 40% recycling goal slowed, as the rate only rose by 2% compared to the same quarter the year before.

At the current rate, with 3% progression achieved in the final two quarters of 2009/10, England would reach a 40.25% recycling rate once all the returns for the 2009/10 financial year have been collated. However, if the next two quarters follow the rate of progression shown in quarter two and only increase by 2% compared to the same quarters the year before then the rate would be 39.75% for 2009/10.

The slowing of the rate of increase between the quarters in England comes as Northern Ireland reported that its municipal and its household waste recycling rates increased by only 1% in the past two quarters rose by 1% compared to the same quarters the year before. This was compared to an average 3% increase for the quarters before (see story).

And, publication of the results comes as the Scottish environmental watchdog SEPA warned that the slowing of its own municipal waste recycling rate during 2008 means that it would be “challenging” to hit its own 40% target for 2010 (see story).

Data covering the third quarter of 2009/10 (October to December 2009) for English councils is expected to be published by Defra on August 5 2010. The results can be subjected to revisions by local authorities during the course of the year. Fully audited final figures for 2009/10 are expected to be published in November 2010.

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