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Waste Disposal

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much recyclable waste was (a) landfilled, (b) incinerated and (c) sent overseas for disposal in each year since 1997. (185664)

[holding answer 18 February 2008]: The UK Plan for Shipments of Waste, which sets out Government policy on shipments of waste, prohibits the export of waste from the UK for disposal with very few exceptions. Waste may be exported for recovery, including recycling.

DEFRA does not have available data on the amount of recyclable waste that is sent abroad for recycling. However, based on HM Revenue and Customs export data, it is estimated that in 2006, the UK exported some 8 million tonnes of metal scrap, 4 million tonnes of paper, 441,000 tonnes of plastic and 136,000 tonnes of glass cullet for recycling. These figures will include recyclable materials collected from all sources including households, commerce and industry.

Statistics for waste arisings and disposal are available only for 1998-99 and 2002-03. In 1998-99, 51 per cent. of household, business and construction/demolition waste in the UK was sent to landfill and 32 per cent. was recycled, with the rest being sent to other recovery or disposal routes, including incineration. In 2002-03, the amount landfilled decreased to 43 per cent., with the amount recycled increasing to 43 per cent.

It is difficult to give a precise estimate of the proportion of the wastes not recycled which could have been recycled in a cost-effective manner, but the Government believe their target for average recycling of municipal waste of 50 per cent. (compared with 31 per cent. in 2007) by 2020 is realistic.