Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to set new ambitious national targets for local authorities, so that they all meet the high recycling levels being achieved by the best, such as St Edmundsbury in Suffolk which recycles or composts over 50 per cent of household waste.

Figures released by DEFRA today show that other local authorities are now recycling over 40 per cent of their waste.

In the coming weeks, DEFRA will start a consultation process to review the England waste strategy. Friends of the Earth wants to see new ambitious national recycling targets of at least 50 per cent by 2010 and 75 per cent by 2015.

The environmental campaign group also wants assurances that expensive, inefficient and polluting incineration plants will not be promoted as part of the waste strategy, when recycling is a better for the environment and is a more cost effective way of dealing with waste.

Friends of the Earth’s Recycling Campaigner, Anna Watson, said: "Some local authorities are really leading the way in increasing their recycling rate and providing great recycling services to people. We want to see the whole of England reaching a recycling rate of 50 per cent by 2010; these top performing authorities have shown that this is achievable. The Government must set high recycling targets in their upcoming review of the England waste strategy, so that we don’t lose this momentum”.