Headlines: November 7th, 2008

Nine out of ten English local authorities are meeting or exceeding their household recycling targets, but councils themselves say more still needs to be done to avoid fines for putting too much rubbish into landfill. The new figures show that as well as meeting targets, in 90 per cent of council areas there was less black bag waste to collect.

The waste statistics for 2007-08 reveal how individual councils are contributing to the drive to reduce the amount of waste produced and to recycle as much of that as possible. They show that 94 per cent of authorities recycled and composted more of their household waste than in the previous year and that almost three-quarters were sending less rubbish to landfill.

East Lindsey District Council was the most improved authority and by increasing its recycling rate by more than 20 per cent achieved the highest household recycling/composting rate at 58.4 per cent of the rubbish it collected. Nineteen authorities had recycling/composting rates greater than 50 per cent and the biggest reduction in household waste to collect per head was in North Cornwall, where it fell by 13.6 per cent.

The Environment Minister, Jane Kennedy, said, “Putting local councils in the driving seat is delivering results.” The fact that ninety per cent of councils had met or bettered their targets was an important achievement but she added, “We need to keep this momentum going as we can always do more.”

That view was echoed by the Local Government Association which said it was encouraging to see people doing their bit for the environment by recycling more and reducing the country’s reliance on landfill. Paul Bettison, Chairman of the Association’s Environment Board, said, however, that we were still throwing more waste into landfill than any other country in Europe. He warned, “Councils and council tax payers are still facing fines of up to 3 billion pounds if we do not dramatically reduce the amount of waste thrown into landfill. It is vital we look at alternative ways to continue to improve recycling and escape these fines.”