The best and worst cities for recycling in the UK are revealed

This October the UK enjoyed this year’s National Recycling Week campaign: ‘Let’s Get Real about Recycling’. Recycling week is an annual event designed to celebrate and promote more recycling and the circular economy. This year’s recycling week was pushed back due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the UKs 12- day mourning period.

To celebrate and raise much needed awareness around recycling behaviours, in honour of Recycling Week, not-for-profit ‘Every Can Counts’ conducted research to rank the best and worst Local Authorities regarding recycling.

This landmark research not only measured recycling by the recycling rate of each area, but it also ranked the Local Authorities on their self- reported behaviours and attitudes to recycling. This included residents’ attitudes to recycling inside their homes as well as recycling in public places.

The top 10 UK cities for recycling  

Newport in Wales was found to be the top UK city when both the recycling rates and consumer attitudes were measured. Newport council sends almost 70% of its household waste for reuse or recycling; this is an impressive rate compared to the 41% national average.

Research conducted by Every Can Counts.

In Chester, who came in second place, more than 95% of residents said they always recycle when at home and 80% said they always recycle when outside using communal bins. This is compared to the worst ranked city Birmingham, where just 57% of people said they always recycled when out and about.

According to this research and Defra’s figures, it’s revealed that in Birmingham only 22.5% of the city’s waste is sent for recycling. Brighton and Hove came in at second place with a 29% recycling rate- with the biggest problem for the city being their communal bins.

The bottom 10 UK cities for recycling

Birmingham was named as the lowest ranking Local Authority for recycling with just a 22% recycling rate and just over 60% of people said they always recycle when at home.

Less than 50% of people in Brighton and Hove said they always recycle when outside their home.

Research conducted by Every Can Counts.

When the subjects were asked their barriers to recycling, 31% said it was due to a lack of recycling bins in communal areas with more than 62% of people feeling like their Local Authority could do better in encouraging recycling in their local area.  

The second largest barrier to recycling cited by 26% of British people is a lack of education around packaging types, confusing recycling terms and lack of consistency with what can and cannot be recycled.  

35% of people in the UK believe that clearer symbols or recycling guidance would be of benefit to them and ultimately help them to recycle more.  

"It’s great to see more in-depth research being conducted around recycling as we cannot rely on recycling rates alone to give us the full picture of reprocessing in the UK."

Megan Scott, Recycling Quality Manager, Clarity Environmental continued:

“I congratulate Newport, Chester and any of the Local Authorities on the top 10 list and thank the residents for their efforts in helping to create a circular economy. With Clarity’s Recycling Evidence Quality Standard (CREQS) we hope to support and empower residents in making the best decisions at the bin and to support councils in carrying those great decisions forward all the way to the end- of- waste stage.”

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