The proportion of household waste sent for recycling in Blackburn with Darwen fell last year, figures show.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs figures show 53,009 tonnes of waste were collected and disposed by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in the year to March 2023.

Of this, about 15,705 tonnes were sent for reuse, recycling or composting – meaning the area had a recycling rate of 29.6 per cent.

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It was down from the year before when 30.4 per cent of household waste was sent for recycling.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has said the amount of litter than can be recycled is impacted by residents putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bin.

The falling figures are a concern at a time when people are being encouraged to reuse and recycle more to reduce their carbon footprint and use of natural resources, as the world faces a climate crisis.

Martin Eden, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s strategic director for environment and operations, said: “Our latest research (dated November 2023) shows a small number of residents are still contaminating their recycling bins by putting some non-recyclables into their recycling bins.

"Some residents are also still putting good recyclables into their burgundy rubbish bin.

“We will continue to support residents to recycle more by highlighting the correct bins to place certain items in.

"We’re currently working on a video to explain what goes into the grey recycling bin, to complement the blue bin video and other information and resources already available at"

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In Blackburn with Darwen, residents have blue bins for paper and cardboard recycling, which includes newspaper, letters, toilet and kitchen roll tubes, egg boxes and cards.

The grey bin is for plastics, glass and cans, including aerosols, plastic and glass bottles, butter tubs, drinks cartons, toiletries bottles, cans, clean kitchen foil, glass jars, and more.

Burgundy bins are for general waste, and brown bins for garden waste.

Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy said a simpler recycling system is needed as England falls "further and further behind" its European neighbours.

Across England, the recycling rate also fell – from 42.5 per cent in 2021-22 to 41.7 per cent last year.

All regions had decreases in their recycling rates, except for London which saw no change.

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: "It is disappointing to see our recycling rates falling at a time when we should be doing more than ever to stop valuable materials being buried or burned.

"We are falling further and further behind some of our neighbours in Europe. In Germany, 71 per cent of municipal waste is recycled and Slovenia has seen recycling rates increase from 22 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2021."

She added producers need to make it easier for people by using packaging that can be recycled in kerbside bin collections alongside a simpler recycling system.

Despite the overall reduction in waste collected from households, she said the amount of rubbish generated per person must be "dramatically cut".

"We will do this by reducing the amount of 'stuff' we buy and repairing or reusing what we already own," she added.

Overall, total local authority managed waste in England decreased by six per cent to 24.5 million tonnes in the recent year.

The figures also show the estimated household waste fell from 417.2 kilograms per person in 2021-22 to 390.2 kilograms last year.

In Blackburn with Darwen, about 341.6 kilograms of household waste was recorded per person last year – down from 351.1 kilograms in 2021-22.

Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the LGA, said: "Every place is different, and councils understand that what works for reducing waste in an urban tower block is different for a rural cottage."

He said recycling rates can be boosted with businesses and manufacturers improving waste reduction and package reuse.

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Local authorities also need clarity on the timetable for Government's plans to reform waste and recycling, he added.

Environment minister Robbie Moore said: "Reducing waste and increasing recycling is crucial for protecting our environment for future generations.

"Overall, the amount of waste from households has gone down, but recycling rates have also fallen slightly this year.

"We know there is more to do and that is why we are pushing forward with plans for a new, simpler common-sense approach to recycling – making recycling easier for everyone across the country."