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Daily Telegraph on our recycling record

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This morning, there is coverage in The Telegraph on Defra’s recycling rate, which states the department has ‘the worst recycling rates of all ministerial departments’.

The coverage points towards our annual report and accounts which shows only 40 per cent of the waste we produced was recycled. It added this figure was below the 65 percent average across all government departments.

However, it fails to properly reflect the complete picture as, unlike most other government departments, some of our activities result in waste that cannot be re-used or recycled. The Defra Estate compromises of many organisations and arm’s length bodies – such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Forestry Commission – which create waste streams which are deemed hazardous and therefore cannot be recycled. This includes chemically treated waste wood or laboratory waste.

The article also claims this figure could ‘prove embarrassing’ for the government ahead of this year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow.

This is simply not true and the government is doing all it can to drive forward the green revolution that is greatly needed – building the Environment Land Management scheme to create greener landscapes, introducing measures to tackle global deforestation and setting legally binding targets through our transformative Environment Bill.

A Defra spokesperson said:

“We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously – and since 2010 we have reduced our carbon emissions by 49%, our domestic flights by 32% and our paper use by 69%.

“Due to the varied activities undertaken by the Defra estate, we produce certain waste streams – such as chemically treated waste wood and laboratory waste – that are deemed hazardous and therefore cannot be recycled. We always ensure our waste is managed in the safest and most sustainable way to avoid any harm to our precious environment.”

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