UK’s best and worst cities for recycling revealed


Newport has been named as the best city for recycling in the UK and Birmingham as the area most in need of improvement, according to new research by not-for-profit Every Can Counts.

To coincide with Recycle Week (17th – 23rd October), the drink can recycling not-for-profit has created a ranking of the nation’s top and bottom cities for recycling by analysing local authority recycling rates and self-reported attitudes and behaviours towards recycling – including the importance placed on recycling by residents and their efforts to recycle when at home and whilst out in public places.

Newport in Wales was found to be the top UK city for recycling, when both recycling rates and consumer attitudes were taken into account. It sends over two-thirds (67%) of its household waste for reuse, recycling or composting, compared to the national average of just 41%.

Chester comes in as runner up with more than nine in 10 (96%) people saying that they always recycle when at home, compared to seven in 10 (70%) nationwide. Two other Welsh cities, Bangor and Cardiff, ranked in third and six, respectively.

Looking at the cities at the bottom of the list, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, and Wolverhampton are the areas that rank lowest, based on recycling behaviours and resident attitudes.

According to Defra figures, just under 23% of waste in Birmingham is ultimately recycled, with this figure increasing slightly to 29% in Brighton and Hove, and 35% in Wolverhampton.

When questioned on the barriers to recycling, the top reason cited by Brits is the lack of recycling bins in public places – a factor for nearly a third (31%) – with more than six in 10 (62%) saying they feel their local authority could do more to help encourage recycling locally.

This is closely followed by people feeling confused about what packaging is and isn’t recyclable (26%). More than a third (35%) of Brits say clearer symbols or recycling guidance on product packaging would help them recycle more.

Those in the UK consume an average of four drinks from cans each week, with aluminium drink cans amongst the nation’s most-recycled type of packaging.

Every Can Counts commissioned the research to coincide with WRAP’s Recycle Week (17th – 23rd October), an annual event designed to celebrate and promote the benefits of recycling.

Chris Latham-Warde, Programme Manager for Every Can Counts, said: “The need for recycling is now fairly well cemented into the minds of the general public and it’s great to reveal and celebrate the efforts of the UK’s top-performing cities.

“However, as we can see from the data, there is still more to be done to inspire change throughout the country, especially when it comes to recycling on-the-go and in public places.

“As an organisation, our aim is to achieve a 100% recycling rate for aluminium drink cans in the UK, Europe and beyond. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable, so there’s no reason why this valuable material can’t stay in endless circulation when it’s recycled, and Recycle Week is the perfect time to encourage more people to make that happen.”

Every Can Counts is a unique partnership formed between drink can manufacturers, drink can fillers and the wider recycling industry, all with the goal of reaching a 100% recycling rate for drink cans. The programme provides free recycling support to businesses and organisations around the UK. To find out more information about Every Can Counts, visit

 Here is the full list of the UK’s top and bottom 10 cities for recycling:

Top 10:

  1. Newport
  2. Chester
  3. Bangor
  4. Lichfield
  5. St Albans
  6. Cardiff
  7. Kingston-upon-Hull
  8. Milton Keynes
  9. Bath
  10. Winchester

Bottom 10:

  1. Birmingham
  2. Brighton and Hove
  3. Wolverhampton
  4. Bradford
  5. Leeds
  6. Edinburgh
  7. Stoke-on-Trent
  8. Coventry
  9. Liverpool
  10. Ripon

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