According to an analysis from BBC News, recycling rates among councils serving 14 million homes in England have declined over five years.
The results discovered that half of local authorities recycled a lower proportion of household waste in 2016-17 compared to 2011-2012, with experts warning that the UK could possibly miss the 50% recycling target by 2020.
Statistics from Defra and BBC Data Unit, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, found that:
- Out of 350 council which have comparable figures, 173 have lower recycling rates in 2016-17 when compared to 2011-12
- The majority of regions in England saw a decrease in household recycling rates over the same time frame
- The budget for recycling services for councils to spend has fallen in terms from a high of £630m in 2013-14 to £569m in 2016-17- a decrease of 10%
- Local council budgets for all waste management services have also been cut by £400m since 2010-11, with spending falling from £4.5bn to £4.1bn in 2016-17.
The results showed that the North East of England has witnessed the largest fall in recycling rates, leaving local volunteer groups clearing up the waste.
Friends of Redcar founder and local councillor in the North East Carl Quartermain told the BBC: “Councils just don’t have the financial resources to do what they once did, and when it comes to waste and recycling, I feel this is very much a model for the future where local community groups work in partnership with the council.”
The largest fallings for recycling include Hartlepool council, which said that it was “working hard” to change the trend.
Budget figures for the current financial year, 2017-18, show that local authorities plan to invest an additional £42m into recycling services, said the BBC.
Local Government Association councillor Martin Tett said: “”Recycling rates having quadrupled in the last decade and our own polling shows eight out of 10 people are happy with the way their local council collects their rubbish.
“But councils are under huge financial pressures and in England face an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020. Having to prioritise vital services such as the demand for children’s services, adult social care and homelessness support is leaving increasingly less money for councils to fund other services such as waste collection.”