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Department for the Environment less than average in its recycling rates

September 14, 2009 at 2:47 pm

A recent parliamentary question has revealed that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has only managed to recycle 29% of its waste during 2008.

Defra is the government agency charged with ensuring Britain meets its target of recycling 50% of its waste by 2020 as part of the Government’s ‘war on waste’ campaign and its vision of a more sustainable UK. However, the Department’s inability to generate higher recycling rates has left it lagging behind similar institutions. This is most striking when Defra is compared to some Local Authorities as some of these have been able to recycle more than 60% of their waste.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect for Defra should be that even companies such as Boots have been able to achieve recycling rates of 50% or more, demonstrating that the Department is lagging behind both the public and private sectors in its endeavours, leading opposition parties to attack the effort the Government is making in setting an example by achieving recycling rates as high as possible within its own departments.

In response to these claims, Defra has maintained that the figure does not take account of the fact that 64% of office waste is recycled. In addition the Department argues that a large proportion of the waste it generates cannot be recycled because it comprises hazardous materials, with a large proportion of these being incinerated to generate electricity.

This whole episode demonstrates both the improvements that have been made and the challenges that remain for the UK as we endeavour to reach our recycling targets and create a more sustainable society.

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