Green Fatigue - Has the UK had enough of recycling?

apathy towards recycling on the increas across the UK

According to some recent research done by the BBC, the amount of waste produced by the average household has risen by around 60% in council areas across the UK, with 8 councils reporting an increase of 100KG per household over the last 3 years.

There is speculation that the UK's enthusiasm for recycling may be on the downturn with some believing that there is little overall long term benefit for the environment. It's been suggested that there is a growing apathy towards the whole idea coupled with a lack of routine and bad habits when it comes to recycling.

The term "green fatigue" has been coined, and it's suggested that this could be down to a number of factors, including people having more cash to spend on goods now the economy has partly recovered from the economic downturn over recent years. With more products being purchased by the average consumer, the knock on effect is that there is more rubbish to dispose of i.e. increases in packaging being thrown away coupled with older items being dumped in favour of their new replacements.


Swindon was one of the areas in the spotlight as there has been a drop in the amount of waste recycled in the area; falling from 44% down to 35%. The volume of waste produced by each household had also increased by a whopping 30% to 602KG per annum.

The council have attributed these figures to a combination of factors including changing from weekly to fortnightly waste collections, an increase in the population in the area due to new housing developments and the council's decision to start charging residents to get rid of their green (garden) waste.


Also in the spotlight was Ashford Council, but for different reasons. Over the last 3 years, the area has seen a marked drop in the average amount of rubbish produced by each household; from 695kg to 350kg.

Who produces most waste in the UK?

Despite being an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' the Scilly Isles came out top of the list with residents producing on average 1,242 kilos of waste each year - around 3 and a half time more than the residents of Ashford. Whilst this may sound like a huge difference, it's worth noting that the island only has a population of around 2,300 people so it shouldn't be seen as a fair comparison to Ashford as the local infrastructure coupled with the small population creates a very different waste management scenario. A spokesman for the council is reported as saying:
"We do face unique challenges and historically I think we've not really had a handle on waste but we are starting to turn the waste issue around."

Where is the least amount of waste produced?

An area in Oxfordshire called Vale of White Horse topped the charts for the least amount of Waste produced by the average household; a mere 274kg per year. This has been attributed to a slightly different style of refuse collection. Although rubbish collection in the area is done weekly, this alternates between standard household waste one week, followed by recycling waste the next. The local council leader, Matthew Barber is reported as saying "It's simple and it works".

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