Headlines: June 4th, 2004

Councils across the country are being urged today to improve recycling facilities. The calls comes from Friends of the Earth but the group is warning that recycling targets cannot be met without more central government funding.Campaigners are sending messages to their local authorities in recyclable plastic bottles in time for World Environment Day tomorrow demanding urgent improvement to tackle the growing problem of waste. Only one in four households in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently receives a “best practice” recycling service, with national recycling levels put at 14.5 per cent, well short of the Government’s target of 25 per cent by 2005.

Though this weekend’s action is aimed at local authorities, Friends of the Earth is also urging the Chancellor to act to improve recycling by providing more funding direct to local authorities from landfill tax revenues and by the reform of the landfill tax credit scheme. It points out that fewer than half of English authorities that applied to the 2002 Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund received any money. More than 200 schemes had been refused.

FoE says research shows that best practice doorstep recycling and compost collection schemes cost an average of 17 pounds per household a year to run but some councils currently spend only one pound fifteen pence per household. It says figures reveal that an increase of 200 million pounds a year would ensure a decent recycling and compost service for every home. It adds that evidence shows local authorities receiving government grants have been able to improve the recycling service they offer, sometimes dramatically.

The campaign group points to the examples of Lichfield District Council where a grant of just over 400,000 pounds in 2002 was used to provide a dry recyclables collection to difficult types of housing, and to Bath and North East Somerset, which received 755,000 pounds for its green waste, and cardboard collection. The council has developed innovative recycling options for flats where it is difficult to operate the usual green box collection scheme. Other schemes highlighted today are operated by Dacorum Borough Council where residents get face to face advice on recycling and Blaenau Gwent where a new five material recycling service now covers 98 per cent of households.