A report published by DEFRA on the 15th December presents new data that shows that the combined recycling and composting rate for waste from UK households was 44.3% in 2015, a 0.6% decline from the 44.9% rate recorded in 2014. This is the first time the UK recycling rate has fell since 2010 and the first time a fall has been seen across England since record keeping began in 2000.
Cuts to local council's waste management budgets, a fall in organic waste for composting and confusion amongst consumers causing rejections at recycling facilities are suggested contributing factors to the fall.
A spokesman for SUEZ, a waste management firm, said: "Local authorities have had to choose between educating people about on waste and funding elderly care, so it is easy to see why waste efforts have taken a hit. But it means that people, especially in London and other urban areas are not being educated about how to recycle, and they feel increasingly disconnected from it."
The latest data suggests that the UK is struggling to meet the 50% by 2020 target to comply with the EU’s Waste Framework Directive. Failure to meet the target could lead to the UK incurring fines totalling hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
A spokesman from WRAP told the Times "It is really disappointing to see that the rate has fallen. With just three years left to meet the 50pc EU target it isn't going to be easy."
A DEFRA spokesperson said: Only one fifth of local authority waste went to landfill last year, down significantly in recent years, showing people and councils are working hard to reduce waste. We are also recycling four times as much as we were in 2000, but the slight dip in the household recycling rates clearly shows more needs to be done.