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INFOGRAPHIC: The Ways We Waste

The UK has a goal to become a zero-waste economy, but how are we doing? This infographic provides the cold, hard stats on what we waste, how much we waste, and how close we are to achieving these recycling goals.


Smarter Business - Waste Inforgraphic

The Ways We Waste

Britain has a goal to become a zero-waste economy, hoping to set an example to the rest of the world. So, how are we doing?

200 million metric tonnes: The amount of waste the UK produces every year. Three-quarters comes from industry and construction.

Household Rubbish

The latest figures on household waste are from 2015:

  • 26.7 million tonnes: household waste per year
  • Half a tonne: waste per household
  • 407 kgs: waste per UK citizen

The amount of household waste per person has decreased 1.1% since 2010:

421 kg 407 kg

Industrial and Commercial Waste

Is our overall waste increasing or decreasing?

Industrial 12.6 million tonnes13.9 million tonnes
Commercial 20 million tonnes15.1 million tonnes

The Race to Recycle

50% – Target recycling rate by 2020

44% – Current recycling rate across the UK

  • This means that over 100 million tonnes of waste is still being sent through non-sustainable processing routes every year.

Recent estimates show that the 50% target by the year 2020 is going to be missed.

So how are the individual UK nations performing so far?

2014 (%)2015 (%)
Northern Ireland 42.042.2

Food Waste Freak-Out

41 million tonnes of food bought annually in the UK

10 million tonnes of this food and drink wasted in the food chain

  • 60%: Food waste is avoidable.
  • £17 billion: Total food waste value
  • 20 million tonnes: Greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste
  • 75.2 kg: food waste per person per year.
  • £60: the amount per month the average UK household with children spend on food that could have been eaten but was thrown away.  

Where does it come from?

  • 70%: Households
  • 17%: Manufacturing
  • 9%: Hospitality
  • 2%: Retail

Why is it wasted?

  • 48% not used in time
  • 32% too much being cooked or served
  • 14% personal preference.

What is wasted?

  • 0.3 million tonnes of fresh fruit
  • 0.8 million tonnes of vegetables and salad
  • 0.4 million tonnes of bakery
  • 0.4 million tonnes of dairy and eggs

Fly-tipping Frenzy

936,100:  incidents of fly-tipping in England in a year

£49.8 million: The cost of clearance of fly tipping incidents

We all need to work harder on how much we reduce, reuse and recycle, but it’s not always easy or convenient. At Smarter Business, we specialise in simple business waste management services underscored by flexibility and great customer service. When it comes to reduction, recycling, recovery, and disposal, Smarter Business is on hand to offer comprehensive commercial waste management to meet the shifting needs of your business.