Defra releases updated waste stats digest

Defra releases updated waste stats digestThe Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has released its second annual ‘Digest of Waste and Resource Statistics’, which collates official UK waste statistics for ‘ease of use’.

The data collated in the 80-page digest is taken from a range of sources, including Defra itself, the Waste & Resources Action programme (WRAP), the Environment Agency (EA), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Eurostat.

Statistics on household waste, resource imports and exports, packaging waste, food waste, waste crime and collections are all included in the digest, which is split into 10 sections:

  • Resource flows, efficiency of resource use, electricity from bioenergy;
  • Waste generation;
  • Waste Hierarchy and destination of waste;
  • Waste compositions;
  • Food waste;
  • Economic characteristics of the waste management sector;
  • Waste infrastructure;
  • Environmental issues relating to waste;
  • Fly-tipping, waste crime and pollution incidents; and
  • EU and UK comparisons.


The forward to the digest reads: ‘Waste and resource are subjects for which there is a wealth of published data. It can therefore sometimes be challenging to readily find the data of interest. The aim of this digest is to help by bringing together a wide range of key statistics on waste and resource into one publication.

‘The digest is aimed at a wide audience, including policymakers, analysts and specialists in the Defra Network, Environment Agency, WRAP, other organisations, the waste sector, academia, other researchers and consultancies.’

Notable statistics

Although the statistics included in the digest are not new, with time period varying for different sets of data and the most recent data available data being used for each, the digest does highlight several key statistics in its introduction.

Around 15 million tonnes of food and drink was wasted in the food chain in 2013 – the equivalent to around one third of the 41 million tonnes of food that is bought annually in the UK. The report said that highest proportion of this waste was created in households (seven million tonnes), with the manufacturing part of the supply chain wasting second most (3.9 million tonnes).

Local authorities in England dealt with 900,000 incidents of fly-tipping in 2014/15. These ranged in size from a single black bag to a tipper lorry load, but 66 per cent of all English fly-tips were household waste. The figure equates to nearly 590,000 incidents, or one for every 40 English households.

Waste arising from households in the UK increased by 3.3 per cent between 2013 and 2014. However, the 2014 tonnage has decreased overall since 2010 by 0.6 per cent.

Finally, the UK used 588 million tonnes of materials in the economy in 2013, a measurement referred to as domestic material consumption (DMC). This represented a slight increase on the 2012 figure, driven, according to the ONS, by an increase in the extraction of biomass.

The figure equates to 9.2 tonnes per capita in the UK, the third lowest figure among EU member states in 2013. Finland had the highest DMC per capita with 32.6 tonnes, while Spain (8.2 tonnes) had the lowest.

The full ‘Digest of Waste and Resource Statistics – 2016 Edition’ can be downloaded from Defra’s website.

Related Articles