COUNTY recycling rate has increased since a new, standardised collection service was launched, says the Dorset Waste Partnership.

Dorset recycled 54 percent of its waste from kerbside collections and recycling centres in 2013-14, up from 49 percent in 2012-13.

More than 60 percent of the waste collected in Christchurch, East Dorset and North Dorset has been recycled since the Recycle for Dorset service was introduced in October 2012 and June 2013.

The service is now used by two thirds of Dorset households, having started in Purbeck and part of West Dorset in March. Purbeck’s recycling rate for the first month was 56 percent, more than twice the district’s rate of 27 percent in March 2013.

The Recycle for Dorset service is being rolled out across Dorset's six districts and boroughs, aiming to increase Dorset’s recycling to 68 percent and drive down costs by £2m a year.

The service means residents can now have food waste collected weekly and recycle a wider range of materials, including plastic pots and tubs. Around 30,000 households have also paid for an optional, fortnightly garden waste collection.

Another 50,000 properties in Weymouth and Portland and West Dorset will switch to the scheme in October, followed by the rest of West Dorset next year.

The total amount of Dorset’s waste sent to landfill last year was 23 percent, down three percent on last year.

In addition, 18 percent of Dorset’s waste was sent for either mechanical biological treatment, where further recycling is extracted, or to produce electricity.

Councils currently pay £80 in tax for every tonne of waste sent to landfill. Including gate fees, it costs £1,060 for a dustcart to dump 10 tonnes of rubbish in landfill, compared to an income of £127 for the same amount of recycling.

In a recent survey of 5,000 residents using the new service, 89 percent said they were satisfied with it and 74 percent said it was an improvement on their previous service. Steve Burdis, director of the Dorset Waste Partnership, said: “Thanks to residents enthusiastically using their new collection service to do their bit, Dorset is recycling more than ever.

“This means we are keeping more waste out of expensive landfill sites and recovering value from useful resources rather than burying them in the ground.

“Recycling is a way of life in Dorset. These figures suggest that having one, easy-to-use service can help us become one of the best areas for recycling in the country.”