Recycling minister Lord Taylor yesterday insisted there is "no room for complacency", despite unveiling figures showing a record amount of household waste is being recycled in England.
Statistics published by Defra
show the proportion of household waste sent for recycling, composting or reuse between October 2010 and September 2011 was 42.5 per cent, up from 41.5 per cent in the financial year running from April 2010 to March 2011.
The performance marks an impressive decade of progress for the recycling sector, given the equivalent figure for 2001 stood at just 11 per cent.
However, last year's improvement of just one percentage point will raise fears that progress is slowing and further fuel criticism of the government's failure to adopt a more ambitious waste strategy.
The latest figures also reveal that the amount of household waste produced is heading in the right direction, dropping 1.4 per cent to just over 23 million tonnes, or 443kg per person.
Local authority waste sent to landfill has followed the same trend, decreasing by 7.6 per cent to 10.5 million tonnes.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach said he was encouraged by the figures, but urged industry and local government to keep pushing to promote recycling and increase recycling capacity.