April 2015

Eunomia’s Local Authority ‘Recycling Carbon Index’ Shows CO2 Saving from Recycling at Record Levels

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Eunomia’s third annual Recycling Carbon Index Report shows that the CO2 emissions savings from local authorities’ waste and recycling services have improved markedly between 2012/13 and 2013/14 despite the levelling off of English recycling rate performance.

  • Recycling by local councils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland saved more CO2 in 2013/14 than ever before.
  • In England, 64% of authorities have improved their Recycling Carbon Index performance, in Wales 81% improved, and in Northern Ireland 73%.
  • Eunomia’s online interactive tool (http://www.eunomia.co.uk/carbonindex) allows councils’ CO2 savings to be compared with one another and between years

Council recycling services in England saved 4% more greenhouse gases in 2013/14 than in 2012/13 and Welsh authorities achieved an increase of 6%. Northern Ireland’s local authorities achieved the biggest improvement diverting a full 7% more carbon over the same period.

Increased captures of metals and plastics have been critical to the increase. In 2013/14, 1.7 million tonnes of carbon were saved as a result of recycling these materials, which have higher levels of embodied carbon than other recycling such as paper, card or glass.

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In England, Cheshire West and Chester have retained their position at the top of the table having improved their performance by 11kg CO2e per person. In Wales, Flintshire saved an additional 21kg CO2e per person in 2013/14 compared to the previous year, jumping from 6th place to 1st. In Northern Ireland, Larne improved their performance to stay at the top of the index.

James Fulford, Director at Eunomia, said:

“It’s really encouraging to see the improvement in performance between 2012/13 and 2013/14, particularly set against plateauing recycling rates in England. It highlights the importance of considering the full environmental impacts of recycling services. It’s vital that we have efficient collection services that effectively maximise environmental performance. The report and online tool will help waste managers to identify good practice and understand where to focus efforts to improve the environmental performance of their services.”