South Oxfordshire Top DEFRA Recycling League Table

Quartet of Biffa councils in top ten

December 2015 – Government statistics published today show South Oxfordshire District Council has maintained its position as England’s best recycling council.

The authority, whose recycling and refuse is collected by municipal contractor Biffa, topped the latest official recycling league table of England’s local authorities published today by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Neighbour Vale of White Horse District Council, also serviced by Biffa, is placed second.

South Oxfordshire’s recycling, reuse and composting rate of 67.3% for 2014-15 saw it retain the title that it won for the first time in 2013-14.

A model of recycling consistency, South Oxfordshire had previously been placed second in the annual league table since 2010, a year after the authority and neighbour Vale of White Horse District Council rolled out a new joint collection service recommended and implemented by Biffa Municipal.

Vale of White Horse took second place in the 2014-15 table with a recycling and composting rate of 65.6%, one position better than its third place in 2013-14. It led the table in 2011/12.

The pair use Biffa to provide weekly separate food waste collections, and bi-weekly dry recycling, refuse and chargeable green waste collections, and both have recently started collecting waste textiles and small WEEE from householders. Both councils have extended their joint contract with Biffa for a further seven years, effective from 2017.

Biffa Dominates Table

For the third year running, Biffa is the only waste contractor or service provider to have more than one authority in the 2014-15 top ten table. Aside from the top two, other Biffa-serviced councils are Surrey Heath Borough Council, ranked fourth with a recycling rate of 63.3%, and Stratford-on-Avon District Council (placed ninth) which recorded a 60.3% recycling rate.

Other Biffa-related highlights from the 2014-15 league table include South Bucks District Council winning the title of England’s most improved recycling council after it lifted its recycling, reuse and composting rate from 33.4% to 50.7% (up 17.3%). Second most improved was Ashford Borough Council, up 13.4% from 41.9% to 55.3% (it was the most improved council in 2013-14), another noteworthy performance from the local authority that was once England’s worst in terms of recycling.

Biffa-serviced Crawley Borough Council is placed fifth for the lowest household waste generated per head of population (284.2 kgs per person).


Defra English Recycling League Table 2014-15



Local Authority

2014-15 recycling, composting and reuse rate
1 South Oxfordshire District Council (Biffa) 67.3%
2 Vale of White Horse District Council (Biffa) 65.6%
3 Rochford District Council 65.2%
4 Surrey Heath Borough Council Biffa) 63.3%
5 Three Rivers District Council 63.2%
6 Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council 61.9%
7 Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council 60.7%
8 Oxfordshire County Council 60.5%
9 Calderdale  Metropolitan Borough Council 60.4%
10 Stratford-on-Avon District Council (Biffa) 60.3%


Private Sector Performance

Describing the performance of England’s top recycling authorities as ‘laudable’, Biffa Municipal managing director Roger Edwards highlighted the fact that the vast majority of the top ten councils were serviced by private sector contractors.

“The results show just what the private sector can deliver in terms of efficient and cost-effective services that are valued by councils and residents alike,” he added. “But we are never complacent, which is why Biffa is developing a best practice toolkit to help councils and contractors deal with aggravating and usually unnecessary contamination of recyclables at the point of collection.”

Edwards stated that the achievement of a small number of authorities shouldn’t mask the fact that the country ‘has a mountain to climb’ if it is to recycle 50% of its municipal by 2020, just over four years away.

The English recycling rate now stands at 45%, and its slow rate of increase over the past few years has fuelled widening concern that the EU-mandated target will be missed.

He said: “While we are very proud that Biffa has helped some authorities to achieve league-leading recycling rates of close to 70%, the bitter truth is that far too many councils are in the 30% to 40% zone or even lower.

“Every local authority needs to do its upmost to maximise recycling, particularly those that are capable of doing 50% or better as there are a number of others which will probably struggle to get near that milestone rate.”

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