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UK Waste Management and Recycling market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Waste Management and Recycling market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


This report will explore the following key questions regarding waste management in the UK:

  • What impact has the Brexit vote had on the market?
  • How have waste trajectories changed over the past year?
  • What have been the drivers of market activity in the past year?
  • What does the future look like for the waste management industry?


This report analyses the source of waste arisings in the UK, and the collection, treatment and disposal of that waste, particularly concentrating on the collection and disposal of domestic, commercial, industrial, building and demolition refuse, which can be broadly defined as the element of waste available to commercial contractors.

For the purpose of the report, the sources of waste arisings in the UK are defined as:

  • Agricultural Waste
  • - non-organic waste arising from both the intensive and less intensive farming sectors, including wastes such as plastics (including fertiliser bags and silage wrap), pesticide and oil containers, pesticide washing, asbestos, scrap metal, batteries, veterinary waste, used oil, paper and cardboard.
  • Mining Waste
  • - waste and residues arising from the extraction of raw materials from the earth.
  • Industrial Waste
  • - waste arising from any factory and premises occupied by an industry.
  • Household Waste
  • - waste arising from residential premises and collected by household collection rounds, street sweeping, litter collection and separate garden waste collection services. This also includes waste collected from civic amenity sites, any waste collected for recycling or composting through bring/drop off schemes and kerb-side collection.
  • Commercial Waste
  • - waste arising from any premises used wholly or mainly for trade, business activities, including sport, recreation, education or entertainment, excluding any municipal and industrial waste.
  • Construction and Demolition Waste
  • - waste arising from the construction, repair, maintenance and demolition of buildings and structures. Mainly includes brick, concrete, hardcore subsoil, and topsoil, as well as some timber, metal and plastics.
  • Sewage Sludge
  • - semi-solid residue arising from the wastewater treatment process.
  • Dredged Spoils
  • - excess material created by the process of dredging, an excavation activity or operation usually carried out at least partly underwater.

The report also refers to municipal waste, which is defined by Defra as “including household waste and any other wastes collected by a Waste Collection Authority, or its agents, such as municipal parks and gardens waste, beach cleansing waste, commercial or industrial waste and waste resulting from the clearance of fly-tipped materials"".

Roughly 89% of municipal waste comprises household waste, with the remaining 11% included in other sections, such as commercial, industrial, and construction and demolition, for the purposes of the market size sector of this report.

The report occasionally refers to gross value added (GVA), which is an economic measure that quantifies how much a sector contributes to the economy by taking away input costs from the value of the sector’s output.

Company Profiles

  • Biffa
  • FCC Environment (UK)
  • Renewi
  • SUEZ Environmental
  • Veolia
  • Viridor

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Marco Amasanti, a leading analyst in the B2B sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The UK continues to edge towards a more circular economy, marked by huge growth in energy-from-waste and the move away from landfill. However, energy-from-waste capacity remains someway off that required to ultimately replace landfill, while the UK continues to rely on EU exports to fulfill this deficit; a relationship that could face great upheaval in the coming years. In light of the air of uncertainty hanging over the industry, the UK could temporarily resort back to landfill, thereby slowing recent declines in its capacity. Marco Amasanti
B2B Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Executive Summary

      • Waste arisings
        • Figure 1: Waste arisings in the UK, by sector, 2013-2017
      • Waste collection
        • Figure 2: England budget revenue expenditure on waste management, net current expenditure, 2017/18
      • Waste treatment
        • Figure 3: Local authority collected waste treatment, England, ‘000 tonnes, 2012/13-2016/17
      • Market factors
        • Mounting scrutiny on plastic waste
          • Growing issue of food waste
            • Market forecast
              • Figure 4: Forecast for waste arisings in the UK, 2018-2022
            • What we think
            • Key Issues

                • Chinese bans certain waste imports
                  • Piling the pressure on the UK waste industry
                    • EU considers new regulation on plastics
                      • Brexit uncertainties
                        • Recycling framework
                          • Trade difficulties
                            • Future strategy
                            • Introduction

                                • Definitions
                                  • Methodology
                                    • Abbreviations
                                      • Market positioning
                                      • Market Factors

                                        • Mounting scrutiny on plastic waste
                                          • Growing issue of food waste
                                            • Figure 5: UK household food waste collections, by nation, 2016/17
                                        • Waste Arisings

                                            • Waste generation continues to grow across all sectors
                                              • Figure 6: Waste arisings in the UK, by sector, 2013-2017
                                            • Construction output
                                              • Figure 7: UK Construction output, 2013-2017
                                            • Household waste
                                              • Figure 8: UK household waste arisings, by nation, 2013-2017
                                              • Figure 9: Composition of waste from England households, 2017
                                              • Figure 10: Composition of dry recycling from English households, million tonnes, 2017
                                          • Waste Collection

                                              • Figure 11: England budget revenue expenditure on waste management, net current expenditure, 2017/18
                                            • Local authority waste collection
                                              • Figure 12: UK household residual waste collection, by frequency, 2016/17
                                          • Waste Treatment

                                                • Figure 13: Local authority collected waste treatment, England, ‘000 tonnes, 2012/13-2016/17
                                              • Waste infrastructure
                                                • Figure 14: Number and capacity of permitted final treatment facilities, UK and England, 2014
                                              • Decline of landfill
                                                • Figure 15: Landfill capacity trends in England, 2006-2016
                                              • Recycling rates
                                                • Figure 16: UK household waste recycling rate, by nation, 2013-2017
                                            • Industry Structure

                                              • Key points
                                                • Industry development
                                                    • Figure 17: Analysis of the changes in the structure of the waste management industry, number of outlets and businesses, 2013-2017
                                                  • Structure by turnover
                                                    • Figure 18: Analysis of the financial structure of the waste management industry, £’000 and number of businesses, 2016 and 2017
                                                  • Structure by employment
                                                    • Figure 19: Analysis of the employment structure of the waste management industry, 2016 and 2017
                                                • Company Profiles

                                                  • Biffa

                                                      • Recent company activity
                                                        • Figure 20: Financial analysis of Biffa Plc, 2016-2017
                                                        • Figure 21: Financial analysis of Biffa Waste Services, 2013-2017
                                                      • Company strategy
                                                      • FCC Environment (UK)

                                                          • Recent company activity
                                                            • Figure 22: Financial analysis of FCC Environment (UK), £ million, 2012-2016
                                                          • Company strategy
                                                          • Renewi

                                                              • Recent company activity
                                                                • Figure 23: Financial analysis of Renewi, £ million, 2013-2017
                                                              • Company strategy
                                                              • SUEZ Environmental

                                                                  • Recent company activity
                                                                    • Figure 24: Financial analysis of SUEZ Environmental, 2012-2016
                                                                  • Company strategy
                                                                  • Veolia

                                                                      • Recent company activity
                                                                        • Company strategy
                                                                        • Viridor

                                                                            • Recent company activity
                                                                              • Figure 25: Financial analysis of Viridor, 2013-2017
                                                                            • Company strategy
                                                                            • Market Forecast

                                                                                • Figure 26: Forecast of waste arisings in the UK, 2018-2022
                                                                                • Figure 27: Forecast of household waste arisings in the UK, 2018-2022
                                                                              • Market trends
                                                                                • Figure 28: Central government own expenditure on waste management, 2016/2017-2019/2020
                                                                                • Figure 29: UK recycling market forecast value, 2018-2022
                                                                              • Technological advancements
                                                                              • Further Sources and Contacts

                                                                                  • Trade magazines
                                                                                    • Trade Exhibitions