Recent analysis of 52 cities* by one of the UK’s leading eco brands, The Solar Centre, reveals the best and worst areas for household waste recycling in the UK.

The Solar Centre standardised the latest available data for percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting to rank each city out of ten**.

St Albans has been crowned the best city overall for household recycling, receiving the highest index score of 10. This comes as the city recycled nearly 60 percent of its household waste between 2017-2018.

Following in second and third place respectively are Chester (9.67) and Bath (8.77).

# Highest Recycling Rates Score # Lowest Recycling Rates Score
1 St Albans 10 1 Birmingham 0
2 Chester 9.67 2 Portsmouth 1.07
3 Bath 8.77 3 Glasgow 1.16
4 Perth 8.75 4 Liverpool 1.52
5 Chelmsford 8.31 5 Sunderland 1.64
6 Oxford 7.75 6 Brighton 2.03
7 Nottingham 7.75 7 Southampton 2.26
8 Newport 7.7 8 Preston 2.36
9 Kingston Upon Hull 7.3 9 Sheffield 2.59
10 Swansea 7.16 10 Exeter 2.61

It comes as no surprise both Newport (7.7) and Swansea (7.16) feature in the top 10 for highest recycling rates, as Wales is the only UK country to have already met the EU’s 50 percent requirement. It currently reports a nation-wide household recycling rate of 64 percent.

Birmingham fell short with the lowest index score of 0 and has been rated the worst area, managing to recycle just 21 percent of its household waste. Portsmouth (1.07) and Glasgow (1.16) narrowly miss out on the unwanted crown, recycling just 24.8 percent and 25.2 percent of household waste respectively.

The South East dominates the bottom 10, with three of its cities –  Southampton (2.26), Brighton (2.03) and Portsmouth (1.07) – scoring some of the lowest recycling rates.

This could be down to recent decisions made by local authorities. For example,  Southampton City Council has removed plastic recycling banks around the city and is instead encouraging residents to mix all plastic items – except bottles – with their general rubbish bins.

Scottish cities appear in both lists, with Perth (8.75) representing Scotland as the fourth best city for recycling in the UK. Glasgow (1.16), however, needs to do a lot more to meet its Scottish neighbour in the top 10, ranking third from the bottom for lowest recycling rates in the UK.

Brian Davenport, Director of The Solar Centre, commented:

“It’s heartening to see strides being made to increase recycling rates and St Albans is a great example of a city striving to reach its environmental goals. However, it’s evident there’s still a lot of work to do in other parts of the country.

“If more UK cities invest in their recycling efforts, it could help us reach the target to recycle a minimum of 50 percent of household waste by 2020. This, along with other incentives outlined in the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan, will reduce the use of plastics which contribute to pollution and help preserve our natural resources.”

To see the full data set for each city, including how they rate for other eco-friendly categories, please visit The Solar Centre’s dedicated webpage here.