HOUSEHOLDS in south Oxfordshire are on track to become the nation’s best recyclers, figures have shown.

After the roll-out of its waste scheme six weeks ago, South Oxfordshire District Council recycles about 70 per cent of household waste — more than any other district council in Oxfordshire andamong the best in the UK.

The scheme includes alternate weekly collections of waste and recycling materials from two wheelie bins and the county’s first weekly food waste collection.

The district’s 57,000 households are recycling more than ever before from their doorsteps, including paper, glass, metal and plastic, leading to rocketing recycling rates.

A South Oxfordshire District Council spokesman said: “We cannot confirm we are officially the best council because the league tables for recycling currently use figures from 2007/08, which show the top recycling rate as 58.4 per cent. The 08/09 figures are not yet available.

“Our recycling rate for the first five weeks of the new service was 71 per cent, so we believe we may well come out on top.”

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs figures show South Oxfordshire District Council recycled 39 per cent of waste in 2007/2008.

In the same year, Cherwell District Council recycled 47 per cent, Oxford City Council 35 per cent and West Oxfordshire District Council 28 per cent.

Vale of White Horse District Council, which will roll out the same system as South Oxfordshire next year, recycled 32 per cent.

South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker said: “It’s greater than our expectations. We thought recycling would be around 60 to 65 per cent with the new system.

“The food waste collection and the bottle collection from the doorstep is helping a lot. But I think people are conscious of landfill and they realise it’s bad for the environment. They’ve wanted to join in with recycling and we’ve given them the facility to do that.

“We have to thank the people of South Oxfordshire for taking part and also for bearing with us while we’ve sorted out some of the teething troubles we’ve had with the roll-out. We hope people will continue to recycle — it can only be good for everyone.”

She said the council would receive recycling credits — to help improve council services — from the Government for sending less rubbish to landfill.

It was too early to estimate the full extent of the financial savings, she said.

She added: “If we had continued to use landfill, we would have been fined £70 per tonne from now.

“With the credits, we can keep the council tax down. It’s win-win all round.”