Waste Composition

In order to develop a solution to the issues created by waste, it is important to know what the waste is made up of.  To address this, WRAP Cymru has commissioned analyses into the composition of municipal waste and litter.

Compositional Analysis of Municipal Waste in Wales (2022)

In 2021, WRAP Cymru commissioned a piece of work analysing the composition of Wales’ municipal waste. The analysis of Local Authority collected Welsh Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) aims to establish a robust evidence base which will inform development of Welsh policy and strategy on the circular economy and recycling, including how recycling targets will be achieved in the next decade. It will also help individual local authorities plan to meet future recycling targets.

The compositional analysis was carried out in all 22 Welsh local authorities and took place over two seasons in 2022. The results were published in July 2023.

The analysis showed that of the 1.51 million tonnes of MSW collected in 2021/2022, 882,000 tonnes were collected for recycling, either at the kerbside or via other types of collection.

The proportion of kerbside residual waste which was widely recyclable was 36.5%. On average 24.7% of the kerbside residual waste analysed was food waste, while 11.8% consisted of widely recycled dry recycling materials.

Food waste is still the main target material, with an estimated arising of just over 270,000 tonnes within MSW in Wales in 21/22. Over 56% of the food waste produced by households at the kerbside was collected for recycling, a substantial improvement compared to the previous analysis in 2015 when it was 47%. The proportion of dry recycling materials diverted to kerbside recycling streams also increased since 2015 – from 72% to 84%.

Compositional Analysis of Litter in Wales (2018)

Published in June 2018, this waste compositional analysis project aimed to measure the composition of different types of litter and estimate the total composition of this stream in Wales.

As litter is collected in a number of different ways, a variety of sources were included in the analysis, as follows: litter bins, recycling on the go bins and litter picked up by street cleansing teams via carts and manual sweeping in four Welsh local authorities.

Compositional Analysis of Municipal Waste in Wales (2015-16)

In 2015, WRAP Cymru commissioned a piece of work analysing the composition of Wales’ municipal waste; the results were published in June 2016.

The analysis showed that out of the 1.55 million tonnes of municipal solid waste collected in 2014-2015, 856,000 tonnes were collected for recycling either on the kerbside or via other types of collection.  This represented a substantial improvement compared to the previous analysis in 2009.

A considerable amount of recyclable material was still found to be present within the municipal waste stream.  Food waste was the main target material that was still more likely to be found in the residual waste streams than in the separate food waste services, with a 47 per cent capture rate at the kerbside.  The dry recycling materials were not as abundant within the residual waste streams, with good capture rates achieved for glass, paper and card, rubble and ferrous metals.  Dense plastics, textiles and non-ferrous metals were not as well captured as some of the other materials.

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  • WRAP-wales-msw-summary-report-english-2023.pdf

    PDF, 958.24 KB

  • WRAP-the-composition-of-litter-in-wales-2018.pdf

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  • WRAP-municipal-waste-composition-2015-16-summary.pdf

    PDF, 166.89 KB

  • WRAP-municipal-waste-composition-2015-16.pdf

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