The government has been urged to step its efforts to improve recycling rates, in an open letter published by waste industry representatives.

Bodies such as the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) claim that now is the time to accelerate recycling projects so that Britain can be sure of hitting European Union recycling targets in 2020.

The UK will have to recycle 50 per cent of waste by this time in order to avoid heavy fines from the EU. Recent figures suggest that around 43 per cent of waste is currently being placed in recycling bins.

In the letter, waste industry bodies warned that there was no longer time for the government to sit on their hands.

According to, it said: “2020, when the UK has to meet strict targets on the amount of rubbish it sends to landfill, is no longer on the distant horizon, and like all major infrastructure projects, waste schemes take years to come to fruition and cannot be bought on stream at a moment’s notice.

“How we deal with waste affects every single one of us – as householders, businesses and taxpayers. That is why we are so publicly repeating our warnings.”

According to, DEFRA received a letter addressing similar concerns from ADEPT, the group that represents local authority waste departments, last month.

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