A year after Merton Council introduced a controversial new bin collection service, the local authority says recycling rates are at a record high.

The council said one of its key aims of the new service, which introduced alternate weekly collections and wheelie bins, was to increase the borough’s recycling rate from 37% to 45% within 12 months and a stretched target of 48%.

In May, the recycling rate increased to a record 47%, much to the delight of cabinet member for the environment, Councillor Tobin Byers.

“Recycling rates in Merton are at record levels and I would like to thank residents, who have significantly reduced the amount of waste they produce and recycled more of their rubbish," he said.

“The introduction of the new recycling and rubbish collection service was the council’s largest service change in recent times and residents are quickly realising the potential of separating their recycling and presenting it in the right container on the right day for collection.

"This Recycle Week, it is really encouraging to see that residents are taking recycling into their own hands and recycling more than ever before.”

The latest data, which covers April to August, shows:

Food waste recycling is up by 75%, compared to the same period last year – before the service change began. This is an average of 473 tonnes per month – equivalent to the weight of more than two blue whales.

A 14% reduction in the total amount of waste produced has also had a major impact. This is 2,887 tonnes less than the same five months last year – equivalent to the weight of a hippopotamus – and generates significant financial savings.

The general waste is disposed of through the energy recovery facility at Beddington, rather than being sent to landfill, creating green energy in the form of electricity.