Collect and Recycle

UK recycling rate outgrows rest of Europe over past decade

The rate of recycling in the UK grew faster than that in any other European country in the period spanning 2001 to 2010, according to the latest findings of the European Environment Agency, in news that will interest many of those recycling old computers and other items with Collect and Recycle (


The UK’s recycling rate was 39 per cent in 2010, compared to a mere 12 per cent nine years earlier. The country recording the next fastest growth in its recycling rate was Ireland, with its 11 per cent rate in 2001 comparing to a 36 per cent rate as the 2000s become the 2010s.


However, despite such strong growth in the likes of electrical waste recycling pushing the UK’s overall recycling rate ahead of the 35 per cent European average, the country remains some way adrift of the continent’s highest overall recycling rate of 63 per cent, which was recorded by Austria. Germany ranked close behind, with 62 per cent, followed by the Netherlands and Switzerland, which both managed 51 per cent.

Jacqueline McGlade, executive director at the European Environment Agency, commented: “In a relatively short time, some countries have successfully encouraged a culture of recycling, with infrastructure, incentives and public awareness campaigns. But others are still lagging behind, wasting huge volumes of resources. The current demand for some materials should alert countries to the clear economic opportunities in recycling.”


The news came as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne used the recent Budget to announce a series of measures likely to be of interest to those involved in cardboard recycling, WEEE disposal and other aspects of the waste and recycling sector. As well as the announcement of a second phase of the Red Tape Challenge “to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of regulation”, there was confirmation of an £8 per tonne rise in the standard rate of landfill tax from 2014.

That means that the standard rate of landfill tax will be £72 per tonne from 1 April this year, increasing to £80 per tonne a year later. There will remain a freeze in 2014-15 in the lower rate of landfill tax, at £2.50 per tonne. However, it was not indicated whether there would be any further rises in the tax from 1 April 2015, with some waste sector observers having recently suggested that the tax was already sufficiently high.

Similar sentiments were expressed by chair of the Environment and Housing Board of the Local Government Association, Councillor Mike Jones, who said that the good progress made by the UK to its recycling targets should make it unnecessary to heighten the landfill tax rate further. He called for councils, the waste sector and government to work together to help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

WEEE recycling specialist Collect and Recycle ( continues to play a key role in helping UK organisations to dispose of all manner of materials in an environmentally friendly way, with services ranging from cardboard collection to hard drive disposal.

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