Quantifying the composition of municipal waste

23rd January 2020

This programme of research addresses the lack of quality data on household and municipal waste collected by local authorities in the UK. It looks at the quantity of different materials in mixed residual waste in order to broaden the data available, and to support policy development. Five outputs have been derived from this research, outlined below.

There are five main outputs from this piece of research:

National Household Waste composition 2017- Read the report

This study presents national composition estimates for local authority collected household waste in the UK, for the calendar year 2017. It present both UK-wide estimates and separate household waste compositional estimates for the devolved nations: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Separate estimates for London have also been calculated. This report estimates the quantity of different materials in mixed residual waste and household recycling streams.

Key messages:

  • Some recyclable materials are still found in household waste, meaning there are opportunities to increase recycling further.
  • In the composition of kerbside waste, there has been a decrease in paper and a substantial increase in card. This change is likely to be a result of a decline in the circulation of print media (e.g. newspapers, magazines) and an increase in online-shopping deliveries which tend to be packaged in card. There was an increase in the proportion of food waste and garden waste in the kerbside stream between 2010 and 2017, though food waste has subsequently reduced (see separate research here).

National Composition estimates 2017

This project aimed to reliably estimate the quantity of different materials in recycling and residual waste streams across the UK. It is a synthesis of many local authority data sources, and the output represents a critical resource for future waste policy development and prioritisation. This excel document contains high-resolution waste estimates for each nation of the UK, estimates for London, and for the UK. Available on request, please enquire here https://wrap.org.uk/help/contact and select “About WRAP” .

Compositional analysis of Local Authority collected and non-Local Authority collected non-household municipal waste- Read the report

The results presented in this report represent a significant study to understand the composition of LA collected non-household municipal residual waste and Waste Management Company (WMC) collected commercial waste in England.

Key messages

  • An in-depth analysis of non-household municipal waste collected by local authorities indicated that 1.5 billion ‘high profile’ items were discarded in 2017 (coffee cups, drink cans, plastic drink bottles, cotton buds, wet wipes, stirrers, straws) with a combined weight of over 25,000 tonnes

National municipal commercial waste composition, England 2017- Read the report

This report presents composition and arisings estimates for materials in municipal waste produced by commercial sector businesses in England, for the calendar year 2017. Separate results are presented for LA collected and non-LA collected commercial waste. 

National municipal waste composition, England 2017- Read the report

This report presents the composition and arisings estimates for materials in municipal waste produced by both commercial sector businesses and households in England, for the calendar year 2017.