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Junk Hunters

London recycling statistics

We all know that London is a huge city by all measures and residents of London generate really large amounts of rubbish each day.

But did you know the city is also infamous for having very low recycling rates compared to other cities in the UK? It’s a shocking fact for many (more on this later), so we dug up some more shocking stats that show this city has a long way to go to when it comes to efficient waste management.

At Junk Hunters we’re passionate about recycling and dedicated to helping London improve it’s recycling problems.

So if you’ve ever found yourself wondering, what are the real facts and statistics about London waste problem?, here are some of London’s biggest (and scariest) recycling facts and stats for you to read.

Not got time to read? Check out our infographic here

London’s Scariest Waste Statistics

#1: London Produces Enough Waste to Fill 1,500+ Olympic-size Swimming Pools Every Year

Local authorities of London collected close to 3.7 million tonnes of rubbish in 2016, according to a report released by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2017 (1). This amount of waste is enough to fill more than 1,500 50-metre (Olympic-size) swimming pools.

Now just consider the increase in the population of the city over the past couple of years, the subsequent increase in waste, and the city’s already low recycling rates – and you will begin to see the bigger (and scarier) picture of the current condition of waste management in London.


#2: Each London Household Produces Nearly a Tonne of Waste Per Year on Average

Surprised to learn how much an average household in London contributes to the amount of junk collected each year? The exact figure is close to 970kg per household according to the reports released by the government(2), which is like a car’s weight worth of junk each year. Yes, every little thing you throw away adds up.

Just wonder how frustrating it would be if no one came to collect your rubbish – imagine seeing that amount of junk building up in front of your eyes, or your house!


#3: Waste Disposal in London is Estimated to Grow by One Million Tonnes Each Year

Based on data released by the UK government, it would require London’s local authorities to collect an extra million tons of waste – considering that city’s residents continue to produce roughly the same amount of rubbish per person. That’s an extra 500,000 trucks full of junk getting added every year and the junk removal and recycling infrastructure of the city is already so strained!(3)


#4: The Single Biggest Sewage Blockage Ever Found in London Weighed Around 130 Tonnes

Now this one is a fun fact! There are things that should never be flushed down that drain, including but not limited to animal fats, nappies and other mysterious items.

But when people do flush them down the drain, the result – in a city like London – is a sewage blockage that requires countless hours of hard work by the local authorities. As it turns out, the biggest sewage blockage of this type ever discovered in London (they named it “Fatberg”) weighed close to 130 tonnes – that’s roughly the weight of 17 elephants!

If some of that was recycled instead, as it should have been, then the blockage may never have started in the first place.



#5: 5 out of 10 Councils That Have the Lowest Recycling Rates in England Fall Within London

Let’s have a closer at the city’s recycling stats. England’s average recycling rate is 43%, and for London, it is close to 33% – much lower than the national average. But did you know five out of ten of the worst boroughs in England (with regards to their rubbish recycling rates) are within London? These boroughs are:

·         Hammersmith and Fulham (23%) Central London

·         Wandsworth (22%) South London

·         Lewisham (18%) South London

·         Westminster City (17%) Central London

·         Newham (14%) East London

In fact, Newham has the worst recycling rate in not just London but the whole of England!(5) Now you get a clearer picture of where we stand right now when it comes to junk recycling in London.


#6: Each Resident of London Produces Close to 2 Grizzly Bears Worth of Waste Per Year On Average

That’s close to half a tonne of rubbish per year! To be precise, the household waste collected from the city amounts to 428.8kg per person.(6)

Considering other forms of waste generated by an average resident, the figure would be close to half a tonne per person. Yes, indeed, that’s a lot of waste! Which is why we can’t just rely on rubbish removal in London but also need to do our best to seek out ways to recycle our waste too.


#7: London Councils Dump 751,000 Tonnes of Junk into Landfills Each Year

Landfills are bad for our environment – we all know this. But can you guess the amount of junk London councils sent to landfills every year? It’s roughly the weight of 75 Eiffel Towers – 751,000 tonnes! The scary part is that it keeps adding up and we will need to come up with better solutions for waste management very soon(7).

Final Thoughts

For now, the figures look scary, to say the least! And unless the situation of junk removal in London is taken seriously, most of the future predictions will, unfortunately, turn out to be true…

So, as a first step, let’s do our part by sending as much junk out of our homes for recycling as possible and if you find you have a lot of junk lying around your place, reach out to junk removal service providers like us at Junk Hunters. We also specialise in house clearances throughout London for those larger rubbish collections.

If you are interested to learn more about the various ways we can do our part in improving London’s recycling rates, don’t forget to check out our next post in the series – 7 Ways To Improve London’s Recycling Stats.

London Rubbish problems




(3) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-41860764