The results of the most comprehensive UK-wide waste composition study to date, which we undertook on behalf of WRAP, are now available through the WRAP website.

The work provides comprehensive and detailed estimates of the quantities of different materials in the recycling and residual household waste streams across the whole of the UK – something that has never been done before – and in commercially generated municipal waste in England. By characterising and quantifying the waste arising for collection in the UK, it provides the waste and resources sector with critical evidence needed to inform future policy. This study will be key in developing the sector’s contribution to tackling the climate emergency.

The published outputs of our work comprise three reports and, most usefully, an Excel data file. The Excel document, titled UK Waste Composition Estimates 2017, contains high-resolution household waste estimates for the UK as a whole, for each nation individually, and for London. These are based on a synthesis of many local authority data sources. The document provides waste professionals with detailed information on waste arisings by material type in an easy to navigate format, and is available on request from WRAP here.

The reports present national composition and arisings estimates for the calendar year 2017 for:

  • Local authority collected household waste in the UK;
  • Local authority and non-local authority collected commercially generated municipal waste in England; and,
  • Total municipal waste (household and commercially generated municipal) in England.

In addition to the waste composition estimates undertaken for 2017, we also produced estimates for local authority collected household food waste for 2018, as part of WRAP’s programme of work to monitor progress towards meeting the Courtauld Agreement targets for reducing food waste. The results of this study (available here) make for interesting reading, indicating that total food waste arisings have started to decrease for the first time in a decade.

Principal Consultant Eric Bridgwater said:

“In my extensive experience of producing national composition estimates, I can definitively say that these are the most comprehensive to have been published. For the first time we have estimates that encompass the whole UK, using a standard methodology and the same categorisation of material types. The previous estimates for England (for 2010/11) are now very dated, as are estimates for other nations, so we hope that practitioners across the sector will avail themselves of the outputs of this excellent programme of work.”

All of the published outputs of the work, along with further information, are available through the WRAP website here.

Photo courtesy of Martoneofmany via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.