England set to miss 2020 recycling target warns Defra committee

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Recycling rates in England have plateaued and only one quarter of homeowners recycle waste correctly, a report by the the environment, food and rural affairs committee has warned.

The report claims that ministers have stepped back from efforts aimed at encouraging increased recycling, a move which could lead to England missing its 2020 recycling targets.

Last November, newly appointed waste minister said that the department for environment, food, and rural affairs (Defra) would be ““stepping back in areas where businesses are better placed to act and there is no clear market failure.”

Now, MP’s on the environment, food and rural affairs committee have called for more, not less, government intervention, with growth in recycling rates falling to just 0.2% in 2012.

The latest data shows that England achieved household recycling rates of 43.2% in 2012, a figure which must rise to 50% by 2020 to meet EU targets.

Concern is mounting due to the fall in recycling rate growth. From 2001 to 2011 recycling rates grew from 12.5% to 43%. However, in 2012 recycling rates grew by just 0.2%.

Speaking about Defra’s decision to step away from their role in encouraging recycling, committee chair, Anne McIntosh said: “We need government to step in and pick up the pieces if needs be,

“Obviously I’m very much in favour of the market but where we seem to have been slow in this country is in recognising waste as a resource; it’s an economic commodity.
“There well may be a time when government can stand back, but at such an early stage, when we could be missing opportunities and councils need guidance, the evidence we heard is that Defra should take a lead role.”
In response to the committee report, a Defra spokesperson said; “We are committed to recycling 50% of our household waste by 2020 – the significant progress we’ve made over the past ten years reflects a great deal of hard work by local authorities and a desire from householders to recycle more.
“We continue to support local authorities’ efforts to promote recycling and are working with WRAP to see what more we can do and what further measures may be needed to achieve this.
“We will respond to the report in due course.”

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