Households producing less waste, but recycling rates drop
The amount of waste collectively produced by households in the UK has decreased, but so too has the percentage of waste recycled.
Households in England produced 1.5% less waste overall but recycled just 44.8% of waste in the year leading up to March 2018, lower than the totals recorded in the two previous years and well shy of the 50% target set by the EU for 2020.
Though there has been a drastic improvement since the turn of the century, when recycling levels stood at a mere 11%, many are disappointed in the lack of progress seen in more recent years. Green Party MP and former leader Caroline Lucas called the news “incredibly disappointing” and “a reflection of the Government’s failure to respond to public calls for action”, but a Defra spokesperson claimed that “more councils than ever are now recycling over half of all waste”.
On the rise, however, was the volume of waste incinerated – a controversial practice which lessens dependence on landfill sites and can be used to generate electricity but contributes to air pollution. 10.8 million tonnes of waste were incinerated in the year up to March 2018, and a report published in July by the UK Without Incineration Network stated that waste incinerators produce as much pollution as 250,000 lorries.
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