Wrap chief executive Liz Goodwin warns that England is at risk of missing its EU recycling targets after new data from Defra revealed that local authority recycling rates increased by just 0.1% in the 12 months to December 2013 to reach 44.2%.
Goodwin described the figures as "disappointing" in her latest blog. "They support the view that many in the sector have been worrying about for some time - that we look increasingly likely to miss the 50% recycling rate in 2020."
England generates about 177 million tonnes of waste every year. Of this, about 86% is household waste managed by local authorities, with the remainder coming from street cleaning, parks and grounds, businesses and the construction sector. On current trends, local authorities in England would need to recycle another 1.7 million tonnes to meet the EU targets.
Goodwin acknowledges that local authorities and central government are under "extreme budgetary pressure', but argues that something has to change to get the momentum back into recycling. She is calling for more investment and consistency in the waste collection infrastructure to increase effectiveness, including smarter communications with householders about what can and cannot be recycled and what happens to the material they put out for recycling.
Under the EU Waste Framework Directive, the UK could face fines if it fails to meet the mandatory 50% recycling of household waste by 2020.
In July this year, the European commission adopted further proposals to boost recycling to 70% for municipal waste and 80% for packaging waste by 2030.