We all need to do our part to save the planet and many of us in Kent have enthusiastically started washing our yoghurt pots and separating our glass bottles from our vegetable peelings and other waste.

But what happens to our waste once collected?

What happens to the collected waste?

Packaging company Priory Direct, based in Tunbridge Wells, has carried out an analysis of the recycling rates achieved by the 11 local authorities in Kent.

Tonbridge and Malling happens to top the charts, recycling more than half (51.6%) of the waste it collects.

Ashford, Maidstone, Folkestone and Hythe, Dover and Tunbridge Wells are not far behind, but performance is starting to decline.

Gravesham only recycles 43.7% of its waste, while at the bottom of the league Dartford manages a meager 24.5%.

Nationwide, the gap between local authorities is even greater.

Kent's Top Recycling Authorities
Kent’s Top Recycling Authorities

The best performing authority, St Albans, recycles 64.2% of its waste, while the worst performing, Barrow-in-Furness, only manages 17.9%.

In England, recycling and waste is managed by local authorities with no government intervention other than setting a quantified target, currently 50%.

But Priory Direct says that with no penalties for those who fall short of the target, and no extra funds to help councils that fall behind, there is no accountability.

As a result, the national average recycling figure actually fell last year from 43.8% previously to 42.3%, with the drop attributed, like many things, to the impact of the pandemic.

Lauren Churcher, of Priory Direct, said: “The recycling rates for Kent paint a particularly interesting and varied picture – while there are only around 20 miles between them, the difference between Tonbridge and Malling compared in Dartford is apart.”

Lauren Churcher discusses recycling rates in Kent

She said: “The big difference in recycling rates between country leader St Albans and Dartford is certainly reason enough for the government to take control of recycling instead of leaving it to local authorities.

“We know that the environmental damage we’ve done so far is already causing catastrophic damage, so we need to do what we can to mitigate it.

“Recycling is in our total control – it’s so quick and easy for all of us and in the face of climate change when you can feel so overwhelmed and helpless, recycling well can and will make a huge difference.”

Kent's Worst Recycling Authorities
Kent’s Worst Recycling Authorities

The numbers for Kent:

1 Tonbridge and Malling 51.6%

2 Ashfords 50.5%

3 Maidstone 49.7%

4 Folkestone and Hythe 48.1%

5 Dover 47.8%

6 Tunbridge Wells 47.5%

7 Graveham 43.7%

Kent authorities recycling figures
Kent authorities recycling figures

8 Mediterranean route 41.8%

9 Swales 41.4%

10 Canterbury 40.9%

11 Sevenoaks 36.6%

12 Thanet 35%

13 Dartford 24.5%