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Recycling rates continue to climb across the South London Waste Partnership region

12 March 2021

The average recycling rate for the four boroughs of the South London Waste Partnership (Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton) has risen by a further two percentage points, from 46% to 48%, according to the latest official data.

The Defra figures (usually released in November but delayed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic) cover the 2019/20 financial year (from April 2019 – March 2020).

It’s the fourth year in a row that recycling rates in the South London Waste Partnership region have risen, with the figure climbing by an impressive nine percentage points since 2016/17, outperforming both regional and national trends.

A graph showing the national, London and SLWP recycling rates from 2016 to 2020

Councillor Hilary Gander, Chair of the South London Waste Partnership Joint Committee welcomed the news but added a note of caution:

“I’m pleased that residents across the SLWP region continue to recycle more and waste less. The SLWP boroughs introduced significant changes to their collection services in 2017 and 2018, when we awarded a new collections contract to Veolia. This led to a sharp increase in recycling rates. What’s pleasing is to see that the upward trend has been sustained.

“However, the latest Defra figures do not include much of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; only the first couple of weeks of the initial lockdown in March 2020 are included in the data. Time will tell what impact the lockdowns have had on household waste and recycling. As we ease out of lockdown over the coming months it is really important that we continue to do all we can to minimise waste and recycle as much unavoidable waste as possible.”

Recycling and waste collection services are operated by Veolia UK on behalf of the four boroughs. Scott Edgell, SLWP General Manager, Veolia UK, added:

“Our collection crews work hard to provide a reliable service that makes recycling quick and easy for the one million residents living in the SLWP boroughs. It’s great that the collection services we introduced and continue to operate now are helping residents to recycle more. We will continue to work with the four boroughs to drive recycling rates even higher in the years to come.”

Around 5% of the materials the South London Waste Partnership boroughs collect from household recycling bins is in fact contamination (i.e. items that should not have been placed in the recycling bin such as plastic bags, plastic film, tissues and disposable face masks). These materials are extracted at the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and sent to an energy from waste facility.  They are not included in the boroughs’ recycling rates.  The boroughs, in partnership with Veolia, continue to work hard to ensure residents know what can and cannot go in their recycling bins.  For more information about where recycling is taken and what it’s turned into, view the short film at

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