The Recycling Association has expressed its disappointment that the recycling rate in England has fallen for the first time, according to the latest figures from Defra for 2015.
With the rate in the UK falling from 44.9% to 44.3% as a result of the English recycling rate falling from 44.8% to 43.9%, this means it will make it more difficult to meet the 2020 target of 50% recycling for the UK as a whole under European Union regulations.
The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “Of course, at The Recycling Association, we are in favour of promoting more recycling, so it is disappointing that the overall recycling and composting rate for England has fallen.
“But we are not in favour of focusing on bringing in more tonnage for recycling only. What we need to ensure is that we have the optimum system to bring in more material while improving the quality of it.
“The Recycling Association is a strong supporter of the work done by WRAP to promote consistency of recycling collections, and this will help ensure more material is available at the best possible quality to those who will be recycling it.
“These figures show that it is imperative that this work done by WRAP is now implemented by Government by requiring local authorities to introduce consistent household collections across England.
“Inevitably, there will be calls for more funding from Government to promote higher levels of recycling by the householder through communications campaigns, and we would welcome that.
“But any communication campaigns must focus on improving quantity and quality, showing the householder how to recycle effectively within a consistent English recycling collection scheme.
“However, now would also be a good time to consider whether we should have weight-based targets at all. Surely it is better to have 5,000 tonnes of quality recycled product than 10,000 tonnes of contaminated material that might end up in landfill?
“Undoubtedly, at a time when local authorities have had their budgets cut while at the same time having to meet these targets, this has led to increasing levels of substandard product.
“In the interests of making the UK the best market for recycled product, let’s look at quality first ahead of quantity.”