J3: Municipal waste recycling rates

Interim Interim

Short description

This indicator shows changes in municipal waste recycling rates in England. The municipal waste recycling rate is the fraction of household waste and waste similar in nature and composition to household waste, which is recycled. The indicator reflects levels of everyday waste that is recycled and not sent for final disposal. Development of the Defra ‘waste tracking’ tool and further integration with data collected by local authorities will close some of the data gaps and enable collection of more comprehensive data.

This indicator is not available for reporting in 2022 in a finalised form. An interim indicator is presented here that shows trends in ‘household waste’ and ‘waste from households’ recycling rates. These waste data are already published annually as National Statistics. Further development is required to include waste that is similar in nature and composition to household waste such as non-household municipal waste. Information is available about the development of Defra’s ‘waste tracking’ tool.

Trend description for Figure J3

In the 2020/2021 financial year, the recycling rate for ‘waste from households’ was 43.8%, up 1.9 percentage points on the equivalent figure for 2010/2011 (when the measure was first reported), but down 1.7 percentage points since 2019/2020.

Assessment of change

In 2011, there was a change in the methodology used to produce for the Municipal waste recycling rates indicator. As this was not directly comparable to the previous method, we have only assessed trends using data following the new method. This limits the length of time series available, so no assessment is provided for medium and long-term time periods.

Little or no change was observed over the most recent 5 years for which trends can be assessed (2015 to 2020). This is in contrast to historic improvements recorded using the old method.

Change since 2018 has also been assessed. There has been little or no change in municipal recycling rates since 2018, based on 4 years of data. We set a minimum of 5 data points for the production of a robust trend for this assessment so this result should be treated with caution until the next iteration is available.

Further information on this assessment, along with details on the methodology, is provided in the Assessment background page. Summaries by 25 Year Environment Plan goal and information on indicator links are presented in the Assessment results pages.

Table J3: Assessment of change in ‘household waste’ and ‘waste from households’ recycling rates in England

Period Date range Percent change Assessment of change
Short term 2014/2015-2019/2020 +0.5 (smoothed Loess) Little or no change
Medium term N/A N/A Not assessed
Long term N/A N/A Not assessed

Note that assessment categories were assigned based on smoothed data, so percent change figures in Table J3 may differ from unsmoothed values quoted elsewhere. Percent change refers to the difference seen between the first and last years in the specified date range.


Choose categories from the dropdowns below to see different breakdowns of the data. Some will not be available until a higher level is chosen.

This table provides metadata for the interim or final indicator presented above.

Indicator name

Municipal waste recycling rates

Indicator reference


Outcome Indicator Framework theme

Resource Use and Waste

Headline indicator status

Not applicable

Relevant goal(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Minimising waste
Relevant target(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Working towards our ambition of zero avoidable waste by 2050
Position in the natural capital framework
  • Pressure on natural capital assets
Related reporting commitments
  • None
Geographic scope

England; some data are available for local authorities.

Status of indicator development


Date last updated May 19, 2022