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Ashford named as the worst place in the country for recycling rates

Bin bags in Ashford
Bin bags in Ashford

by Martin Jefferies and James Scott

Recycling rates in Ashford are lower than anywhere else in the country, new figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show.

Just 14% of the 700kg of waste an average household in the town throws out was sent for reuse, recycling or composting, compared to 66% in Rochford, the best-performing place in England.

In Kent, Tunbridge Wells recycles the most household waste (46%) but only just makes the top 100 recycling areas in the country.

Recycling rates
Recycling rates

Ashford Borough Council said the figures were "flawed" because they do not take into account that around 85% of waste generated in the town is turned into renewable energy.

However, deputy leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson said: "Irrespective of the league tables, the council is determined to improve arrangements for waste collection and expanding recycling in the borough, both in terms of the quantity and range of materials."

The council has already expanded its blue box recycling service to around two thirds of all homes. It also plans to launch a free smartphone recycling app, helping residents access recycling and waste collection information.

But Steve Campkin, spokesman for Ashford's Green Party, said: "I'm not surprised. I just don't think it's a priority for our council.

"They want to be seen to be doing the right things and making the right noises but I don't think it's a priority for them. They just want to keep building stuff."

Across the country, the amount of waste collected and sent to landfill by local authorities decreased by around a tenth last year.

At the same time, household recycling increased, up from 39.7% in 2009/10 to 41.2% in 2010/11.

Refuse lorry in Medway
Refuse lorry in Medway

A refuse lorry collects waste in Medway, where 36% of rubbish is recycled

Figures show an average person now recycles around 40% of the 449kg of waste they generate each year.

In total, 23.4 million tonnes of rubbish was thrown away last year - down slightly on the previous 12 months.

The EU Waste Framework Directive requires the United Kingdom to recycle, compost or reuse 50% of waste from households by 2020.

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