waste disposal
© Gary Perkin |

Every year in Britain, households throw away around 22 million tons of waste into the bin but recycling rates have plummeted to around 44%, despite the target set at 50% by the year 2020

Perhaps the issue lies in the British infrastructure, especially when it comes to recycling our own plastic waste, as the vast majority is outsourced to countries abroad.

Dating back to 2002, the amount of waste transported overseas, to countries such as China, Malaysia, Turkey and Poland, has increased sixfold – accounting for at least 50% of the packaging that was reported as recycled in 2017. There was also the risk that certain materials were not recycled to set UK standards, which is instead sent to landfill and therefore contributing to rising pollution rates.

Council recycling rates, serving 14 million households in England alone, have fallen drastically over the past 5 years, according to BBC News analysts.

50% of local authorities recycled a lesser proportion of household waste during 2016-17 compared to that in 2011-12. Experts have warned that the UK is on track to miss its goal of recycling 50% of all household rubbish by 2020, but are processes changing to ensure we hit such targets?

The Local Government Association (LGA) stated that “recycling in England had still quadrupled, compared with 10 years ago.” Since 2011-12, the overall recycling rates for household rubbish, in England, has actually risen by a mere 0.7%, while most other regions have noticed a decline in such activity.

Statistics held by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, found that:

  • From 350 councils, for which there are corresponding figures, 173 had lower recycling rates in 2016-17 compared with 2011-12 figures.
  • The majority of English regions noticed a decline in household recycling rates, over the same period.
  • Council budgets for recycling declined by a total of 10% – from a staggering £630 million in 2013-14, compared with £569 million in 2016-17
  • Council waste management budgets have also been slashed by £400 million since 2010-11, alongside projected budgets falling from £4.5 billion to £4.1 billion in 2016-17.

Discover more interesting facts and statistics, including entire UK recycling rates, within the infographic below – provided by No.1 Junk Street.

waste disposal


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