Council bosses who are constantly pressuring residents to recycle more have been accused of failing to "walk the walk" after a Yorkshire Post investigation revealed only nine of the region's 22 local authorities measure how much of their own waste gets recycled, and that only five have set themselves targets for improvement.
Rotherham Borough Council was one of the 13 authorities unable to say exactly how much of its own waste was recycled last year, initially putting the figure at one per cent. A spokeswoman later said this figure referred to waste paper at certain council offices, and that a number of other recycling schemes were also in place.
Other councils failing to monitor their own waste properly also said they recycled on an ad-hoc basis, with several outlining plans for improvement.
Leeds-based waste campaigner Simon Bowens of Friends of the Earth said councils must do far more to set an example.
"Local authorities need to walk the talk on recycling," he said. "They are producing a huge amount of waste and should be encouraging their staff to recycle by setting ambitious targets, reaching them, and reporting on this to the public. This would then set a great example to businesses and individuals across Yorkshire.
"Councils should also set targets, reaching them, and reporting on this to the public. This would then set a great example to businesses and individuals across Yorkshire. Councils should also set targets to reduce the amount of waste they pro duce."
Back in 2007, the Yorkshire Post revealed only two of the 22 authorities in the region were setting targets for their own recycling –Leeds and Harrogate.
Then-environment secretary David Miliband said at that time: "Just as this department and other departments have set targets for recycling their own waste, we expect local authorities to do the same."
The regional partnership of councils, Local Government Yorkshire and Humber, pledged it would "make sure all councils not only have recycling targets but also meet them" over the following 12 months.
But more than three years later, only three more of the 22 authorities have set themselves targets.
East Riding Council is one of the few to have done so, and now recycles more than half its office waste and up to 80 per cent of rubbish at council depots.
Cabinet member for the environment Councillor Symon Fraser said: "If you're there urging households and businesses to recycle more, then you should also live that message yourself."