The UK’s 2020 waste targets will soon be obsolete, recycling rates have plummeted to around 44%, despite the target set at 50% by the year 2020 and 22 million tons of waste being sent to landfill and not recycled every year in the UK. The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH; including IBA metal) was 45.2% in 2016, increasing from 44.6% in 2015. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020, but will we reach this target?
Although council recycling rates, serving 14 million households in England have fallen drastically over the past 5 years, the Local Government Association (LGA) has stated that “recycling in England had still quadrupled compared with 10 years ago”.
2020 waste targets : The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Ministry of House, Communities and Local government found that the majority of English regions noticed a decline in household recycling rates over the same period and council waste management budgets have also been slashed by £400 million since 2010-11. Projected budgets also fell from £4.5 billion to £4.1 billion in 2016-17.
The Government has finally revealed its recycling ambitions, just in time for 2020 targets via the resources and waste strategy, which indicates where we may end up in 15 years time.
England and Northern Ireland are looking to almost exactly match the EU average in terms of recycling performance. But on landfill, England has a target just 2.5 percentage points away within 16 years.
The final complication of recycling targets is that the UK’s targets are not yet fixed in legislation and are subject to consultation.
It’s harder to gauge how far the UK has to go to meet its packaging targets, the UK’s current stated rate is 71.4% making the 2030 target look very low.
Overall, the UK is on track to meet EU targets, to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020, to recycle or recover at least 60% of packaging waste and to decrease the tonnage sent to landfill by no more than 35% of the 1995 baseline by 2020.