Recycling rate falls in Peterborough during early months of pandemic

Recycling rates took a hit in Peterborough during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, figures show, amid a drop in the amount of waste picked up by bin collectors.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 3:17 pm
The Peterborough City Council household waste recycling centre at Fengate. EMN-190215-142211009

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace say we are still throwing away too much as a country and have called on ministers to “show some bottle” and fix the waste system.

Peterborough City Council collected 23,280 tonnes of waste between April and June last year, the latest Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs figures show.

That was down 307 tonnes (one per cent) from the amount recorded during the same period in 2019.

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Of the rubbish collected over the period, 41 per cent was sent for recycling – down from 47 per cent a year before.

The figures count household and non-household waste, including recyclable and non-recyclable objects.

But Defra cautioned that some local authorities’ collections were heavily disrupted by the first coronavirus lockdown, which could affect the data.

Household waste recycling centres (tips) were also closed temporarily during the first lockdown in some areas due to social distancing issues.

Across England, councils collected 6.2 million tonnes of waste in the three months to June last year – down around 576,000 tonnes (nine per cent) from a year earlier.

Of that, 43 per cent was sent for recycling – a decrease from 46 per cent in 2019.

“Covid has clearly impacted waste collection across the board, but it hasn’t changed the fact that we’re still producing too much rubbish and recycling too little of it,” said Greenpeace UK’s political campaigner Sam Chetan-Welsh.

“If we want to fix our waste system, we need to cut the amount of waste we produce in the first place and invest in better recycling infrastructure to capture what’s left.”

A recent report by Greenpeace revealed that more than half the plastic waste the Government counts as recycled ends up overseas in places like Turkey, where the group found evidence of it being dumped and burned illegally.

Mr Chetan-Welsh said the Government needs to stop exporting plastic waste and introduce an all-inclusive deposit return scheme for drinks containers.

He also called for legally binding targets to slash single-use plastics in half by 2025, adding: “It’s time for ministers to show some bottle.”

The Local Government Association said councils have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep household waste and recycling centres open and collection services running as best as possible.

“Any level of disruption would inevitably have an impact on recycling rates across the country,” said David Renard, the LGA’s environment spokesman, who added that rates were expected to increase again as restrictions eased.

He also called on the Government to push manufacturers to produce less plastic packaging that cannot be recycled.

A Defra spokeswoman said less than 10 per cent of household waste is now going to landfill, while the amount of food waste being recycled has increased by over 40 per cent since 2015.

She added: “But there is still a lot more to do, and that’s why we have brought forward major reforms for packaging and kerbside collections which will boost recycling, step up our war on plastic pollution and reduce litter.”