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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Recycling reaches all-time-high
Recycling (generic)
Local authorities must recycle 25% of household waste by 2005-6
Household waste recycling rates in England have reached record levels, according to new government figures.

Recycling of household materials like paper, compost, glass, plastic and tin reached 14.5% in 2002-3 - up 2% on 2001-2 figures, the government said.

The new rates would help the country meet its 2003-4 target of recycling 17% of total household waste, it added.

People were recycling more than ever but some still do not do enough, said Environment Minister Elliot Morley.

"As councils around the country have set up kerbside recycling schemes it's becoming easier for people to do their bit.

"Now let's do more. It can be as easy to put aside waste for recycling as it is to throw it away.

"Every old newspaper or empty tin can make a difference," Mr Morley added.

Waste budgets are already squeezed by government priority areas like education and social services.
Jim Harker
Local Government Association

The latest figures also revealed an absolute reduction in the proportion of waste sent to landfill for the first time in recent years.

All local authorities have to meet a national recycling target of 25% by 2005-6.

Most councils were working hard to improve recycling rates and meet these targets by increasing the range of materials recycled and the type of schemes they run, Mr Morley said.

"But a significant minority are still not doing enough - in some places the national minimum target of 10% has not been reached," he said.

"Those who did not show a commitment to improve their recycling levels risk intervention by the government to make it happen," he added.

'Double whammy'

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs could help councils which needed to achieve better results, he said.

Vice chairman of the Local Government Association's environment board Jim Harker said the new figures showed that many councils were making "excellent progress" in boosting recycling rates.

But local authorities were facing a "double whammy" of squeezed funding and extra EU targets.

"Waste budgets are already squeezed by government priority areas like education and social services.

"Yet despite rising levels of waste and spiralling disposal costs, the Chancellor's three-year spending review has awarded councils a funding rise of just 0.6% in the first year - a cut in real terms," Mr Harker said.

"The inevitable result will be either increases in council tax, cuts in other services, or failure to meet national and EU targets."

Landfill tax set to rise
27 Nov 02  |  Politics
Fines threat to boost recycling
26 Mar 04  |  London
UK go-ahead to more waste burning
06 May 04  |  Science/Nature

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