UK Sees Rapid Rise in Recycling

recycling bins uk

The UK experienced the fastest rise in recycling rates over the course of the 00’s of any European nation, rising from 12% to 39% by the end of the decade according to statistics published yesterday.

This figure puts Britain up to the current EU average and sets a course to meet the EU directive that all countries should be recycling at least half of their waste by 2020 well ahead of schedule. Other countries, however, will find the target much harder to meet. Whilst, Germany, Austria and Belgium have already achieved this goal, many other member states recycle far less. Romania for instance recycles just 1% of its waste.

Worryingly, it’s also transpired that some countries with a good environmental track record have seen a fall in recycling rates, with Norway and Finland seeing a drops of 2% and 1% respectively.

Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, said:

In a relatively short time, some countries have successfully encouraged a culture of recycling, with infrastructure, incentives and public awareness campaigns. But others are still lagging behind, wasting huge volumes of resources. The current intense demand for some materials should alert countries to the clear economic opportunities in recycling.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued a statement saying:

Household recycling has risen from just 11% in 2001 to 43% this year and over half of business waste is now recycled. Government, local authorities and businesses have all worked with the public to achieve this and will continue to do so to meet challenging new targets.

Within the UK itself Wales is currently the best recycler, having leapfrogged England and Scotland to record rates as high as 54% in the last few months.

Green Steve’s Reaction

While I am of course happy that recycling rates are on the rise in the UK, I am concerned that they are plateauing and that we have hit all of the easy targets already so it may not be as easy as other analysts have stated to reach the 2020 target.

As for other countries, I am shocked to hear that Romania has a 1% recycling rate. Surely the EU should be forcing countries like this to hit certain targets as part of the agreement to let them into the single market.

I still think there is a long way to go…

Steve (156 Posts)

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