England recycling rate increases against backdrop of significant EfW expansion

England’s ‘waste from households’ recycling rate has increased to 45.1 per cent for 2016/17, rising once more after dropping last year, according to the latest figures, which also reveal significant increases in energy-from-waste (EfW) treatment and separate food waste collections by local authorities. The increase in recycling tonnages and the overall rate can partly be attributed to the inclusion of metal recovered and recycled after incineration (IBA metal) in official recycling figures, whereas previously IBA metal would have been reported as ‘recovery’ of waste.

The statistics go on to show that the total volume of waste collected directly from households increased by 1.1 per cent to 22.7 million tonnes between 2015/16 and 2016/17, while total waste recycled increased from 10 million tonnes to 10.3 millions – an increase of 2.6 per cent. The volume of dry recycling collected, meanwhile, increased by 1.6 per cent to six million tonnes in 2016/17.

The total amount of waste going to incineration has almost doubled in the past five years, with only 5.5 million tonnes of waste going to incineration in 2012/13.

This means that EfW now makes up 38.6 per cent of local authority waste (not the same as household waste), compared to 42.8 per cent going to recycling, a rise particularly noteworthy given the current debate over the need for future EfW infrastructure.