Analysis from the Guardian has found that household waste recycling rates are considerably lower in England’s poorer areas.
The data looked at England’s 303 local authorities for 2018-19. Of the local authorities that make up the top 20% most deprived areas, 85% of them had household recycling rates that were below the overall average.
Conversely, of the local authorities that make up the top 20% most affluent areas, only 20% of them had household recycling rates below the overall average.
The local authorities of Liverpool, Birmingham, and Barking and Dagenham are among the six most deprived local authorities in England, and were within the top 10 authorities with the lowest household recycling rates.
In contrast, the local authorities of St Albans City, South Oxfordshire, and Surrey Heath are amongst the most affluent local authorities, and have recycling rates of over 60%.
New Economics Foundation’s Chaitanya Kumar, said that there are complex reasons for the link between social deprivation and recycling rates.
“Access to storage space for waste, high density housing, lack of clear and tailored communication, a more mobile population and the inability to prioritise recycling as a result of poverty are just a few of the structural reasons behind low recycling rates,” said Kumar.
“Improving economic wellbeing plus a more focused communications strategy is the way forward to improve recycling rates in underserved communities.”
Environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, Cllr David Renard, said that recycling rates are impacted by housing types and the location of the local authority. “Councils will consider a wide range of factors in determining the most effective type of service,” said Renard.
“Councils should be free to decide how to deliver their waste services locally and we support the call by the housing, communities and local government committee for councils to have the flexibility and extra funding to ensure they meet the recycling challenges under the waste strategy.”
A spokesperson for Defra said: “We are committed to ensuring that we go further and faster to reduce, reuse and recycle more of our resources – and our landmark resources and waste strategy will ensure 65% of municipal waste is recycled by 2035.
“We have published guidance to help local authorities boost recycling rates, especially for those who live in flats, and we encourage councils across the country to promote and maintain a consistent recycling service to all their residents.”
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