UK statistics on waste

17 May 2022

Article: 56/1911

On 11 May 2022, the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published the latest statistics on waste at a UK level. This report coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns, during which there were disruptions and cancellations to kerbside waste collections and widespread closures of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs). 

In key points from the report:

  • The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH), including Incinerator Bottom Ash metal (IBAm) was 44.4% in 2020, decreasing from 46.0% in 2019.
  • The recycling rate for WfH decreased in all UK countries in 2020, except for Wales. The recycling rate for England was 44.0%, compared with 49.1% in Northern Ireland, 41.0% in Scotland, and 56.5% in Wales.
  • UK biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) sent to landfill has fallen from approximately 6.6 million tonnes in 2019 to around 6.1 million tonnes in 2020.
  • Provisional figures for 2021 show that 63.2% of UK packaging waste was recycled, similar to 2020.
  • It is estimated that the UK generated 43.9 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste in 2018, of which 37.2 million tonnes (85%) was generated in England. The latest estimates for England only, indicate that C&I waste generation was around 33.8 million tonnes in 2020.
  • The UK generated 222.2 million tonnes of total waste in 2018, with England responsible for 84% of this total. 

Source: DEFRA, 11 May 2022