Local authority landfill rates increasing as recycling efforts plateau

New report casts light on the difficulties in encouraging more people to separate waste streams.

black trash can with wheel near gray asphalt road during daytime

CRJ Services’ Waste Index Report is based on seven years of collection data – dry recycling, residual waste, organic waste, and food waste) from the 10 largest councils in the UK, and follows the National Infrastructure Commission’s recent call to ‘urgently implement’ new legislation to achieve a 65% recycling rate as planned by 2035. 

Of those assessed, all boroughs showed recycling rates below 40% of all household waste, with Birmingham City Council coming out bottom, at just 23%. Budget cuts and funding restrictions have been cited as key influential factors by the researchers, with the Midlands authority among several to file Section 114 notices, effectively declaring bankruptcy. While this may not directly impact things like collections in the immediate, it does place strict limitations on available money for things like public awareness campaigns. 

The 10 councils rank as follows for highest percentage of waste recycled: 

  1. Bristol: 46%
  2. Manchester City Council: 40%
  3. London Borough of Croydon: 39%
  4. Leeds City Council: 36%
  5. Bradford Metropolitan District Council: 36%
  6. Sheffield City Council: 32%
  7. London Borough of Barnet: 30%
  8. Kirklees: 27%
  9. Liverpool City Council: 23%
  10. Birmingham City Council: 23%

You can download the full report here.

‘Local authorities are facing difficult decisions and in many cases, are having to sacrifice practices that would encourage effective recycling in order to stay afloat – illustrated by our findings,’ said Rob Symons, Operations Director of CRJ. And while people are getting better at recycling, there’s still a lack of understanding, knowledge and even care when it comes down to where to discard of your household waste.’

‘Private companies, especially manufacturers, have the power to reshape consumer behaviour and enhance recycling efforts without incurring substantial expenses,’ he continued. ‘Whether it involves enhancing consumer awareness regarding packaging, or introducing recycling incentives, companies have the capacity to foster a genuine shift in individuals’ waste-consciousness.’

More on recycling:

Circular technology: What’s in store for 2024?

£2.8bn of paper and cardboard will be waste by 2030

What does ‘Simpler Recycling’ actually mean?

Image: Shane Rounce


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