The most recent figures from the government show that, after a period of flatlining, average recycling rates have started to go down from almost 45% in 2014 to 43.9% in 2015. Hampshire authorities continue to struggle to meet even the national average with the best of them, Eastleigh, achieving almost 41%.
At other end of the scale is Portsmouth which manages a paltry 22.7% which is slightly below Gosport’s 23.5%. But some authorities like South Oxfordshire and Surry Heath are up in the mid sixties so it can be done. The EU had set a target for the UK at 50% by 2020 but that was before brexit so the outlook is now less clear.
Contributing factors for the decline include lower commodity prices for plastics, steel and pulp plus deep cuts to local authority funding affecting staff whose role was to promote the benefits of recycling to local residents. Hampshire County Council claims it sends less household waste to landfill than most other authorities, but omits to mention how much of the waste stream is diverted into the county’s hungry incinerators, including spoiled batches of green material that could otherwise have been recycled. Incineration is now described in more user-friendly language as energy from waste but reduce, reuse and recycle is better.
The case for recycling remains stronger than ever as it helps to conserve the world’s dwindling stocks of raw materials, saves energy, reduces emissions and creates new jobs. It’s also a process everybody can contribute to and thus play an active part in protecting the planet for future generations. Hopefully, the government elected on 8th June 2018 will take recycling more seriously than the current government it replaces.