Recycling rage: More than three quarters confused by council recycling rules – Manchester and London worst offenders

Recycling rage: More than three quarters confused by council recycling rules – Manchester and London worst offenders

More than three quarters, 78%, of people are confused by local Council recycling, according to our nationwide survey.

We asked 2,200 people across the UK about their experience with household recycling and found that two thirds, 69%, of households are regularly binning recyclable items due to the confusion.

Three in 10 currently don’t recycle, and four out of five said they would recycle more if it was easier.

When asked what they found most challenging about recycling, almost half of people, 47%, said confusion around the types of items that can be recycled was the main reason they struggled.

Manchester residents were the most confused when it came to their recycling, with 87% saying they didn’t understand their local recycling rules and 76% saying they often threw recyclables in the main bin to save time and hassle. The news comes after Manchester Council admitted fly-tipping had increased after they reduced the size of household waste bins in a bid to encourage recycling*.

London came a close second, with 85% of households admitting they were confused by local recycling rules. Many blamed the different recycling rules across boroughs, with some councils dictating what recyclables can be put together in boxes and bags.

The top 10 places where recycling is considered the most confusing are:

  1. Manchester (87%)
  2. London (85%)
  3. Birmingham (81%)
  4. Essex (80%)
  5. Cardiff (78%)
  6. Leeds (73%)
  7. Sheffield (72%)
  8. Bristol (69%)
  9. Poole (66%)
  10. York (58%)

recycling map of UK


Here are the top 10 most confused areas of London:

  1. Lewisham London Borough Council (96%)
  2. Newham London Borough Council (95%)
  3. Westminster City Council (93%)
  4. Wandsworth London Borough Council (92%)
  5. Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council (92%)
  6. Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council (92%)
  7. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (91%)
  8. Hackney London Borough Council (90%)
  9. Camden London Borough Council (89%)
  10. Tower Hamlets London Borough Council (89%)


People were also angry at the way recycling is collected, with more than a third, 34%, annoyed at having to separate waste into separate bins, while 21% said lack of public recycling facilities at supermarkets made it difficult to recycle.

Refuse collectors were another source of anger as 77% of people said they often found uncollected recycling strewn across front gardens and pavements, and recycling bins put back at the wrong house.

James Rubin, managing director of Enviro Waste said,

“It’s definitely a case of confusing councils when it comes to UK recycling, and consumers have had enough. For so many people to say that they would recycle more if things were clearer and easier, it’s time to end the multitude of different rules and systems currently in place and make things simple.

“The best performing local authorities are still only recycling 67% of everything that gets thrown away**. Our survey highlights that this figure could be increased by making recycling more accessible for households across the UK. It’s about time Councils listened to constituents and reviewed their current curb side and public recycling plans!”