NEW figures reveal East Lancashire’s councils have some of the UK’s worst recycling rates with Blackburn with Darwen’s performance nosediving to one of the nation's worst.

The authority was disposing of 45 per cent of its household waste in a ‘green’ way in 2010/11, putting it close to the top of the national league table, but by 2017/18 this had plummeted to just 30.

This made Blackburn with Darwen a lowly 312th out of 353 councils in the UK for recycling domestic rubbish and 40th out of 43 in the North-West.

Its own figures for 2018/19 show a further fall to 28 per cent compared to a national average of 45.2.

The sharp fall has prompted borough bosses to create a dedicated Waste Programme Board to draw up a strategy to reverse the decline.

Darwen East Liberal Cllr Roy Davies said: "This huge drop is worrying. The council needs to work with residents not just tell them what to do."

Since 2010/2011, other East Lancashire boroughs have also seen a decline in the amount of household waste being recycled and consequently more going for landfill, most at Whinney Hill tip in Altham (pictured below).

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Cllr Andy Fewings, leader of Burnley Council's Green Party group, said: "In the current climate change emergency, these figures are really shocking and disturbing."

Ribble Valley Council recycles 30.8 per cent of its household waste (down from 41) placing it at 305 nationally and 38 regionally.

Hyndburn comes in at 33.3 per cent, down from 35, making it 286 nationally and 33 in the North-West.

Burnley recycles 32.8 per cent (compared to 34 ) making it 297 nationally and 36th regionally.

Pendle manages to reprocess 31.9 per cent (down from 38) and is 301st in UK and 37th in the North West while Rossendale has the highest national ranking at 280 (32nd regionally) with a recycling percentage of 31.9 (compared to 35 seven years ago).

Cllr Andy Kay, Blackburn with Darwen Council's deputy leader and finance boss, admitted: "Our recycling rates have drastically fallen over the past eight years. Our aim is to become one of the best recycling boroughs."

He blamed the contamination of recycling bins with general waste, government cuts, and public confusion over the issue for the dramatic fall.

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Cllr Kay revealed the borough has just recruited a new environmental education officer to work with schools and community groups to promote green waste disposal and was launching a public awareness campaign on recycling including a social media drive.

Hyndburn Council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson said: "We need to improve recycling. There are many reason for this but we have introduced new bins and will be seeking to educate the public on this. The more we recycle, the less the landfill tax we pay and the lower the council tax."

Cllr Charlie Briggs, leader of Burnley Council, said: “These figures are disappointing but we are doing all we can to improve recycling rates. We are bringing in new bins and white plastic sacks so let’s see what we can achieve.”

Cllr Kay said: “Unfortunately, like a number of other councils, we’ve got a real problem with contaminated recycling bins.

“Austerity has had a very big impact due to factors including having to cut the education programme which we know made a difference to helping people understand what they can and can’t recycle.

“We are also in the process of developing a public awareness campaign for recycling and are currently working up a strategy and clear action plan to reduce waste and increase recycling rates."

The figures, produced by waste experts InSinkErator from Department of the Environment statistics in advance of National Recycling Week which starts on Monday, show that Barrow-in-Furness is the worst performing council in the North West, and the 3rd worst nationally with a recycling rate of 19.6 per cent.