London Recycling Rates: Best and Worst Boroughs Revealed

London recycles 34.4% of waste—far less than the national average of 43.3%—which makes it the worst region in England for recycling. Ministers are under pressure to support EU targets of 55% of household waste recycled by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035. London in particular will need a massive push to improve recycling rates.

Best London Boroughs for Recycling

The best five boroughs for recycling in 2019-20 were Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, and Sutton. These areas recycled at least 48.5% of waste, with Bexley topping the charts with a 54.2% recycle rate.

Chart showing which areas in London have the best recycling rates

The best areas of London are still far behind other areas of England. For example, there are 11 other councils in England with recycle rates over 60%. The best local authority for recycling household waste in England, Three Rivers District Council, recycled 64.1% of household waste last year. This council already nearly meets the proposed 2035 recycling targets, putting them well ahead of schedule.

Most Improved London Boroughs

In the past year, Merton improved their household recycling rate by the most points—it improved from 38.5% in 2019 to 42.2% in 2020, an improvement of 3.7 percentage points.

Newham wasn't far behind, improving their household recycling rate by 3.4 percentage points from 16.9% in 2019 to 20.3% in 2020. (In fact, when looked at on a percentage improvement basis, Newham's rate had the highest percentage increase of 20%.)

Croydon, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea rounded out the top 5 most improved London boroughs.

Most Improved2019 Household Recycling Rate2020 Household Recycling RateBetter by
Merton38.5%42.2%3.7%
Newham16.9%20.3%3.4%
Croydon47.3%49.2%1.9%
Hammersmith and Fulham23.8%25.5%1.7%
Kensington and Chelsea27.0%28.6%1.6%

Worst London Boroughs for Recycling

The worst five boroughs in 2019-20 for recycling were Newham, Westminster City, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, and Barking. The worst four of these recycled less than a quarter of waste.

Chart showing which areas in London have the worst recycling rates

With an average rate of 34.4% across London and more than a dozen boroughs reporting recycling rates under 30% for 2019-20, London has a lot of improvement to make to hit recycling targets. To quantify the challenge ahead, London boroughs would, on average, need to gain 2.4 percentage points in terms of household waste that is recycled in each year between now and 2035 to meet a goal of 65% recycled by 2035.

FAQs

Bexley is the London borough with the best household recycling rate: 54.2%. Bromley is a close second with 50.9% of household waste being recycled each year.
Newham is the London borough with the worst household recycling rate: 20.3%. Newham is not just the worst in London; they have the 2nd lowest recycling rate in all of England.

Data

Here is the data for London from www.gov.uk used to determine the best and worst local areas for recycling. The list is sorted alphabetically so you can find your local area and see how it ranks and compares to the rest of London and England.

Rank in London (33=worst)Rank in England (345 is worst)CouncilTotal Household Waste (tonnes)Tonnes sent for recycling, compost, reuse% of Household Waste Recycled
29330Barking and Dagenham90,27322,74425.2%
17288Barnet140,90445,15332.0%
148Bexley94,64951,31354.2%
13269Brent95,23832,56234.2%
275Bromley123,34062,80450.9%
26326Camden58,91915,28125.9%
22313City of London3,9581,14528.9%
395Croydon118,70158,41949.2%
6103Ealing83,52040,30948.3%
15282Enfield118,12239,09933.1%
14281Greenwich102,48334,03833.2%
24316Hackney85,03624,05928.3%
27328Hammersmith and Fulham45,59611,60725.5%
20306Haringey83,06424,66029.7%
9228Harrow90,26335,02038.8%
10240Havering102,94838,56437.5%
11243Hillingdon99,24137,07337.4%
19297Hounslow87,35427,48731.5%
21307Islington54,78616,21229.6%
498Kingston upon Thames60,94029,62348.6%
18294Lambeth76,79324,35931.7%
25321Lewisham98,05026,10626.6%
8191Merton69,05629,17142.2%
33340Newham120,21124,40620.3%
28329Redbridge105,27826,70125.4%
7164Richmond upon Thames75,17232,81143.6%
23315Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea51,97814,86828.6%
12258Southwark1108083894035.1%
599Sutton731363544748.5%
31338Tower Hamlets741431596021.5%
16286Waltham Forest95,99430,99432.3%
30335Wandsworth93,80522,22623.7%
32339Westminster City Council886191810420.4%
London Average34.4%
England Average43.3%

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