waste management

A Decade of Waste

A Decade of Waste

It is no secret that landfill sites in the UK are fast running out of space. There will come a time when burying our rubbish won’t be an option.

While increasing recycling rates is important in tackling the problem, we must also pay more attention to reducing residual household waste.

We analysed a decade worth of data supplied by local authorities in England to see just how wasteful we really are.

Waste VS Recycling in England

From 2006-2016, England alone produced 237,581 thousand tonnes of household waste. As you can see from the graph below, 23,449 thousand tonnes of waste was produced per household in 2015-2016. While this amount is lower than the 25,775 recorded in in 2006-2007, residual household waste has increased since 2012-2013 when it was at its lowest.

Worryingly, the most recent data on recycling rates shows that levels have decreased since 2014. The latest overall recycling rate stands at 43%, a 0.7% decrease since 2014. However, rates have drastically improved by 12.91% since 2006.

The Most Wasteful Areas of England


We wanted to find out which region of the UK produced the most residual household waste per household. Using official data from the Office of National Statistics, we calculated the total residual household waste across a ten year period for each region.

most wasteful regions
North East England were the worst offenders, producing 6613 KG of waste per household over a decade. This was closely followed by the West Midlands with 6431 KG per household. East of England produced the least waste per household, with 5777 KG. East of England was closely followed by the South West, who disposed 5793 KG of waste during the same period.

How Green are England’s Cities?

We wanted to find out which cities in the UK are leading the way when it comes to reducing the amount of residual household waste. Latest figures show that Birmingham is the most wasteful city in England, producing 740 KG of waste per household. Southampton is another one of England’s biggest wasters with 690.4 KG generated in one year, closely followed by Coventry with 649.8 KG.

waste english cities

The Cities with the Best Recycling Rates

It’s England’s smaller cities that set the best example when it comes to recycling. With a recycling rate of 57.7%, Chester comes top of the table when it comes to reusing household waste. This is closely followed by Bath who recycles 52.6% of its household waste. In third place is Hull, who can also be proud of their 46.6% recycling rate.

When it comes to naming and shaming cities with the lowest recycling rate, Birmingham fares the worst. Despite contributing the most waste per household, Birmingham has the poorest recycling rate with 22.9%. Southampton, the second most wasteful city, also has the second lowest recycling rate with 27.2%. The third poorest recycling rate goes to Sheffield with 28.9%.


As an environmentally friendly company, this piece aims to raise awareness about waste and recycling levels in England. The open data which has been analysed has been provided by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is titled Local Authority Collected Waste Statistics. This analysis is inclusive of 10 years’ worth of statistics.  As Scotland, Wales and Ireland do not produce in-depth data that is comparable to England, they are not included in the study.

6 Innovative People Solving Our Waste Addiction

junk yardThe average household in the UK produces more than a tonne of waste every year. Totalling a UK wide production of 31 million tonnes of waste per year, it would be fair to say that everyone in the UK has a role to play in reducing our waste. For some though, the role of reducing waste doesn’t stop at splitting the plastics from the cardboard. Across the world, a small collection of individuals are revolutionising our approach to waste. To inspire you, we’ve listed five of the most innovative individuals who are helping us deal with our waste addiction.

Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbousk

It’s a simple idea, but it is a premise that could revolutionise supermarkets. Or at least that’s the hope of two ambitious entrepreneurs in Berlin who have launched the first zero waste supermarket. Offering no packaging, plastic or the big name brands that come with it, customers are encouraged to bring their own containers as packaging. The containers are then weighed on entry and you pay using the eventual weight of the container at checkout. The hope is that customers only buy what they really need and don’t end up wasting food.

Follow Milena on Twitter here: @Milenskaya

Visit their website here: http://original-unverpackt.de/

Medha Tadpatrikar

Can plastic really be used to create fuel? Well, that’s the hope of Indian entrepreneur Medha Tadpatrikar. Kept awake at night by the 17,000 tons of plastic waste generated each day in India, Medha started experimenting with plastic in her makeshift laboratory. The experiment may have started small, but it is now processing over 220 pounds of plastic a day. The fuel that is recovered is then sold at a subsidised rate to local villages. The hope is that Medha can expand her business to over 25,000 households across India by the end of 2017 and eventually the world.

Rosa Maria Espinosa Valderman

Built to be super absorbent and highly durable, the function of a nappy makes it a nightmare for decomposition. In fact, research shows that a single modern nappy could clog up landfill space for over one hundred years. Set the task of tackling baby waste, scientist Rosa Maria Espinosa Valderman has developed an innovative technology capable of speeding up the decomposition process. Using a specially designed mushroom named lignin, the process has been shown to reduce the volume and weight of a nappy by up to 80% in 3 months. The results have only been tested in laboratories so far, but the hope is that the technology could be rolled out worldwide and could even be developed to act as a food supplement for cattle.

View her talk on reducing waste with fungi here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrpPxV1sSL0

Parans Paranthaman

Tyres are one of the most environmentally damaging consumer products available. From production to its end of life process, the tyre is highly damaging to the environment and simply does not biodegrade. Scrapped at a rate of 1.1 tyres per person per year, it’s estimated over 70 million tyres hit landfills per year in the UK. While, yes, tyres are 100% recyclable, the rate at which we use tyres and the amount of plastic that can be recovered from a tyre make it difficult for recycling plants to keep up with the demand. That is, until now. Using innovative technology, researcher Parans Paranthaman believes tyres might just find their way back into our cars, but this time under the bonnet. While the process of turning tyres into batteries for electric cars is far too complicated to explain in one blog post, the hope is that the carbon material recovered from the tyre can be used to store energy.

View his talk on tyres and energy storage here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdG2Eu1LyQE

Selina Juul

Never underestimate the power of one dedicated individual. That’s the lesson we can all learn from Selina Juul. Spurred on by an unmatched passion for the environment, Selina is credited single-handedly for reducing Denmark’s food waste bill by 25% in five years. Moving to Denmark from Russia aged 13, Selina credits the collapse of communism and the consequent food shortages that followed for her dedication and determination. Her campaigning not only shamed Denmark’s supermarkets into change, but it also changed Denmark’s entire mentality towards waste. Today, Denmark is the leading country in the fight against food waste. Power to the people.

Follow her on Twitter here: @SelinaJuul

View her Ted Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6mi-ZFCprs

Andrew Turton & Pete Ceglinski

What do you do when you’re down to your last twelve dollars and living in your friends spare office? Well, begin building the first rubbish bin for the sea of course.

Impassioned by the amount of plastic waste he saw floating in the ocean while sailing around Hawaii, Turnton decided to convince Ceglinski to quit his job and invest all his life savings into a project that aims to ‘clean up the ocean’. As industrial engineers the two creatives made a working ‘Seabin’ out of nothing more than two garbage cans, a water pump and duct tape. Impressive.

So far the the pair have developed a working prototype, raised $250,000 via crowdfunding site Indie Go Go and removed over 2 tonnes of plastic from our oceans.

Turton and Ceglinski hope that over the 5 years they can receive the investment needed to expand the project worldwide and clean up our oceans one marina at a time.

Find their Indie Go Go project here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cleaning-the-oceans-one-marina-at-a-time#/

Follow the Seabin project on Twitter here: @Seabin_project