Northamptonshire ‘most improved’ in national recycling index

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People in Northamptonshire have been thanked for their efforts to recycle after the county was named England’s most improved by an independent environmental consultancy.

The amount of recycling collected across the county in 2016/17 saved an estimated 89 kilograms of carbon emissions per person from being released into the atmosphere – up 18kg per person on the 2015/16 performance.

The big improvement in Northamptonshire – as recorded in environmental consultancy Eunomia’s Recycling Carbon Index 2016/2017 - was matched only by Belfast City Council on the UK level, and saw the county move into the top half of the index’s ‘Good Performer’ section.

The league table, prepared by Eunomia Research & Consulting Ltd, calculates the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that are prevented as a result of local residents’ recycling efforts. 

Recycling saves greenhouse gas emissions because it avoids waste being sent to rot in landfill or burned in an incinerator and because it reduces the need for energy-intensive extraction of raw materials.

Cllr Tim Allebone, Chairman of the Northamptonshire Waste Partnership, said: “Northamptonshire Councils have worked hard to promote and improve their kerbside recycling services, but residents should also be thanked for all the efforts they put into recycling each day. 

“We have been focussing on reducing contamination and encouraging participation in food waste collections and this has seen both an increase in recycling and a reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill. 

“Increases in the amount of garden waste collected for composting also helped make 2016/17 a great year for Northamptonshire, which has now been recognised.” 

The Carbon Index offers an alternative to tonnage-based recycling rates in assessing the performance of councils’ recycling schemes, as the carbon benefit associated with different materials varies greatly. 

Recycling metals, for example, saves huge amounts of energy that would otherwise be needed to extract new raw materials, while composting garden waste has a much smaller benefit. An authority that collects a lot of green garden waste but less paper and packaging may have a high recycling rate but will be ranked lower in the Carbon Index.

Powys County Council in Wales was the top performer overall this year, saving a total of 118kg of carbon dioxide per person in the area in 2016/17 (the latest year for which figures are available).

Nationally, recycling in England in 2016/17 saved 3.7m tonnes of carbon dioxide (or CO2) emissions, an 87,000 tonne improvement over 2015/16. The overall saving is the equivalent of boiling water for 285 billion cups of tea – almost 5 years’ worth of UK tea drinking.

Eunomia Director Joe Papineschi, who advises councils on how to improve their recycling systems, said: “I’d like to congratulate Northamptonshire and Belfast and their residents on the impressive way in which they’ve leapt up the league table.” 

“Recycling has an important contribution to make to the UK’s efforts on climate change, and just looking at recycling rates doesn’t tell you the whole story. Our Recycling Carbon Index helps authorities to see the types of recycling that have the greatest impact, and to identify new opportunities as well as highlighting successes so far. It also helps the public understand the reasons why recycling is so important.”