Everyone should recycle their waste. It helps protect the environment, saves energy and conserves raw materials. But how many of us are following our duty of care and regularly recycling?

This blog will take a deeper look into the UK’s recycling rates to gain a true picture of the current state of play. We’ll also review DEFRA’s recycling targets for 2023/2024 and explain what this means for both UK businesses and citizens.


What Are the UK’s Recycling Rates?

As for England, the most recent figures showed the recycling rate in 2021 increased to 44.1%, compared to 44.0% in 2020.

The 44.1% recycling rate is for ‘waste from households’, which is the official recycling measure used as the basis for reporting at a harmonised UK level. In other UK countries, the recycling rate was 48.4% in Northern Island, 41.7% in Scotland and 56.7% in Wales. 

While the UK has made modest progress regarding recycling waste, there’s still some way to go. It’s estimated the UK generates 222.2 million tonnes of total waste each year with England being responsible for 84% of it.

DEFRA’s 25-year plan for recycling outlines their 2023/24 recycling targets for the UK to combat the issues. Read on to find out what these targets are for different waste materials.

What Are DEFRA’s Recycling Targets for 2024?

In November 2020, DEFRA released its packaging recycling targets for the next 25 years. 

It’s important to note that these targets are aimed at all businesses and councils in the UK.

The government has also introduced a range of initiatives to recycle more, such as the plastic tax which came into effect in April 2022. This means that businesses will need to have the right waste machinery or collections in place in order to recycle these types of materials.

 Here’s what DEFRA’s targets look like for 2024:

Material 2022 Business Targets Overall Recycling Rate 2024 Business Targets Overall Recycling Rate (Estimate)
Paper 83% 71.5% 83% 71.5%
Glass 82% 71.5% 82% 71.5%
Alumunium 69% 70% 69% 70.%
Steel 87% 77.6% 87% 77.6%
Plastic 61% 51.5% 61% 51.5%
Wood 35% 36.9% 42% 36.9%
Overall recycling 77% 67.6% 80% 67.6%

What Does This Mean for UK Businesses?

Of course, the ambitions are high. There’s an onus on everybody to change the way they recycle and do their bit. However, it can be challenging for companies when you don’t have an effective waste management process in place.

For councils, it’s likely that the segmentation of more recyclables are likely to land with you too. This is because the government will be ramping up the pressure on the general public to start recycling their waste more efficiently.

We’ve created a checklist that explains everything you need to know about improving your waste management process to ensure you can contribute to meeting the goals laid out by DEFRA for 2024.

From guidance on choosing a waste supplier to tips on how to improve your waste processes to create new revenue streams, this checklist covers everything there is to know.

Grab your copy via the link below.

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