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New waste composition dataset published for London 

14th December 2023

A new report has been published today by ReLondon bringing together recently available household waste composition data from 22 London boroughs to build as comprehensive a picture as possible of what Londoners put in their bins, how much is being recycled and how it varies across property types.

ReLondon’s report, produced in collaboration with Resource Futures, identifies a few key data points:

  • The largest single material (by weight) found in London’s bins is food. The data shows that 27% of waste overall is food waste, with 19% being food that could have been eaten.
  • There is a significant gap in capture rates between kerbside and communal waste collection systems, with 21% of the material that could have been recycled being put in the wrong (residual) bin at kerbside properties versus a much higher 51% of recyclable items from communal properties.
  • Plastic film makes up around 7% of London’s residual waste, which equates to 114,000 tonnes of material per year, or the equivalent of 5,000 carrier bags per household per year.

The report incorporates data from 22 of London’s boroughs spanning 4 years (2018-2022) and provides indicative estimates of household waste composition for London. No new fieldwork has been carried out for this project, made possible through collaboration with London’s waste authorities, but it analyses a huge amount of existing data including waste composition from 6,000 households living in flats in the capital – giving the most comprehensive information on flats-related waste currently available.

The amount of food still being found in residual bins shows the importance of both waste prevention measures and the introduction of food recycling collections in the few remaining London boroughs where it is not available – and which will be mandatory from March 2026. The huge amount of plastic film also found in London’s bins represents a real opportunity for improving recycling rates once collections of those materials are made mandatory from March 2027.


Notes to editors:

  • ReLondon is a partnership of the Mayor of London and the London boroughs to improve waste and resource management and transform the city into a leading low carbon circular economy. ReLondon was established as a statutory Board under the Greater London Authority Act 2007 as the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB).
  • Find out more at:
  • Resource Futures is a purpose-driven business and a certified B Corp. We are waste and resources experts with the aim of enabling positive management of material resources. Working with business, governments, local authorities, and communities we seek to minimise the impact of production and consumption through reduction, reuse, recycling and circular business models.
  • For more information, please visit

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