Three Rivers tops 2021/22 recycling table

Three Rivers district council was the best local authority in England at recycling in 2021/22, figures published today (24 March) show.

Three Rivers recycling
Three Rivers district council topped the recycling table this year with 63.5%

The council’s household waste recycling rate rose from 63.1% in financial year 2020/21 to 63.5%, according to data from the waste statistics team at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

This confirms research from letsrecycle.com in January which predicted that Three Rivers would win (see letsrecycle.com story).

South Oxfordshire district council had the second highest recycling rate at 62.7%, while the champions of 2020/21 – St Albans district and city council in Hertfordshire – completed the top three with a rate of 62.4%.

As the 2021/22 champions, Three Rivers will now receive a prestigious trophy from letsrecycle.com. And, the district council’s success means the trophy remains in Hertfordshire, where local authorities are supported by the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership.

At the other end of the table, Barrow-in-Furness once again recorded the lowest recycling rate in England at 17.7%. The London borough of Tower Hamlets at 19.7% and Westminster city council at 20.9% rounded off the bottom three.

As outlined below, Defra’s data shows the total household waste recycling, composting and reuse rate for English local authorities from April 2021 to March 2022. Figures have been rounded to the nearest decimal point.

Three Rivers

This is the second year Three Rivers district council has had the highest household waste recycling rate in England, which it first achieved in 2019/20 with 64.1% before moving down to the third place overall in 2020/21.

During the last five years, St Albans has had an average household waste recycling rate of 63.2%.

Councillor Phil Williams, Three Rivers district council’s lead member for environmental services and sustainability, outlined the district had managed become such a successful place to recycle thanks to wide public awareness and effective and efficient teams of in-house waste collection crews.

He said: “We have to thank our residents in a great way, because they really understand the importance of recycling and are dedicated to it. The council as a whole has such a strong ethos of sustainability, our staff working tirelessly make sure bins are collected, avoiding contamination. That ethos runs throughout the organisation and the district, and I think that is why we have had such a fantastic result.”

Leader of the council, Councillor Sarah Nelmes, added: “We have been in the top ten recycling authorities for the past ten years – and I am immensely proud of that fact. It is great that this year we have once again returned to the top of the list. This is no accident, it is thanks to the wide dedication of the council and of our residents and I congratulate all involved and thank everyone for their efforts. Recycling and composting are so vital in our effort to keep resources in use for longer as we work to protect our planet.”

St Albans

St Albans city and district council topped the local authority recycling league table in 2020/21 with a rate of 64.2% (see letsrecycle.com story).

St Albans council received a trophy from letsrecycle.com for being the top recycling council in England in 2020/21

This fell by nearly 2% to 62.4% in 2021/22, still enough for St Albans to finish an admirable third.

The council has been in the top five local authorities with the highest recycling rates in England for the last three years.


At an individual local authority level, household waste recycling rates ranged from 17.7% to 63.5%.

Regional recycling rates compared between 2020/21 and 2021/22

While all regions saw a decrease in their household waste recycling rate in 2020/21, this year the spread was even. Out of the nine regions, four saw a decrease, with four recording an increase and one – North East – remaining the same. The region with the highest rate was again the South West, at 48.9%.

The region with the largest increase was North West, with an increase of 1.1 percentage points.

Overall, a total of seven authorities had rates greater than 60%. Seventy authorities had rates greater than 50%.

The overall average figure for England moved from 43.8% to 44.1%.

Waste per person

According to Defra’s figures, the council of the Isles of Scilly collected the most household waste per person, at 559.8kg. The Isles of Scilly have an estimated population of around 2,150. The council’s recycling rate was 40.2% in 2020/21.

Shropshire council collected the second most in 2021/22 again with 523.7kg, while East Riding of Yorkshire completed the top three by collecting 518.6kg per person.

The London borough of Lambeth collected the least household waste per person, at 225.9kg. The borough of Lambeth represents an estimated population of more than 318,000 people. It had a recycling rate of 36.4% in 2020/21.

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