England misses household waste recycling target | Recycling

Recycling rates in England are falling and the government has failed to meet its target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020. But Wales has become a world leader, with the country recycling 56.5% of their household waste.

Household recycling rates in England have risen from 46% in 2019 to 44% in 2020. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the Covid pandemic had disrupted collections in some areas .

The Welsh government said its high rate of domestic recycling avoided more than 400,000 tonnes of CO2 a year before being released into the atmosphere and further accelerating climate change. The data shows that Wales was the only country in the UK to meet the minimum recycling target of 50% by 2020 set by the European Union.

Welsh Government Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “Our recycling statistics are world class thanks to an effort by Team Wales. Despite the pandemic and all the challenges it has brought, local authorities have managed to prioritize recycling, collectors have worked heroically throughout and the wonderful people of Wales have continued to recycle.

“We must now continue to raise our ambitions to achieve zero waste by 2050 and zero net carbon emissions so that we can seriously tackle climate and natural emergencies and pass on a resilient, green and prosperous planet to our future generations.”

The amount of waste generated in the UK continues to rise. UK households produced 27m tonnes of waste in 2020, an increase of 2.1% on 2019. England is responsible for the vast majority of waste, 22.6m tonnes, or 84% of the total UK. Most household waste consists of food, paper, cardboard, glass bottles and plastic.

According to the data, only 44% of the 2.5 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste produced in 2021 was recovered for recycling.

The government has yet to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme, which was promised in 2018 to reduce pollution caused by the public’s use of 13 billion plastic drink bottles a year. It has consulted on a policy to ban more single-use plastic items, but has yet to announce when that will come into effect.

The government said in a statement: “We want to recycle and reuse more of our waste, and help households to do so. Our environmental law transforms the way we deal with waste; we have already responded to our consultation on extended producer responsibility, we are introducing a deposit system and we will respond shortly to our consultation on consistent collections in England.

In 2018, the government released its Resources and Waste Strategy, which said the UK would aim to deal with more of its waste domestically. Two years ago, Interpol reported an alarming increase in pollution from the illegal plastic trade around the world.

The UK exports around two-thirds of its plastic waste. James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, recently called on the UK to impose a comprehensive ban on the export of waste to tackle crime.

“Sending certain types of waste overseas is legal, but is it fair? Is it morally right to dump the waste we create on another country to deal with? ” he said. Bevan has come under fire from the Recycling Association, which said confusing waste-related crime with exports was wrong and failed to address the real reasons for the criminal activity.

Bettina Gilbert, head of program delivery at government waste advisory body Wrap, said: “2020 was an unprecedented year with full lockdown and huge disruption which likely caused the decline. Priority has been given to maintaining residual waste collections for health and safety reasons, while garden waste collections and recycling have often had to be suspended or greatly reduced.

“The fact that the levels have not yet dropped is a testament to the incredible work being done by the thousands of key workers who continue to collect our waste and recycle it. Recycling helps protect our planet, so it’s crucial that we continue to recycle as much as we can.

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