GMCA Waste Compositional Analysis


Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s overarching aim is to increase household recycling across Greater Manchester to 60% and reduce household residual waste to 400 kilogrammes/household/year by 2025. To help with this, we were commissioned to establish the composition of the household waste streams, across kerbside and Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) services, to recommend how best GMCA can achieve these targets.


Firstly we conducted three waste surveys to determine the following:

Survey 1 - The composition of all kerbside collected waste and recycling streams
Survey 2 - The composition of materials taken by householders to the authority’s HWRCs and disposed of in the general waste skips
Survey 3 - Why residents are bringing waste to the HWRCs, what materials they are
disposing of, site satisfaction and catchment areas.

Fieldwork was undertaken in the Spring and Autumn of 2018 and 2019 where representative kerbside  samples were taken from households in Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford. The samples included household residual, recycling, food and garden waste. We also sorted waste from 40 general waste skips at 20 HWRCs.

The composition of each sample was categorised as ‘Primary’ e.g. Paper, Glass, Textiles and then sub-divided into more detailed categories such as Wallpaper, Glass bottles and jars, clothing and shoes.

By sorting residual waste from the kerbside and general waste from HWRC skips we were able to collect the data needed to inform reports on the composition of these waste streams, and the potential recyclability of materials placed in them.

The work also produced information on the types and amounts of contamination in the separately collected garden, food and recycling bins at the kerbside, as well as the composition of different acceptable materials within these bins.


With a greater understanding of the types of materials being disposed of both at the kerbside and HWRC’s, the GMCA are in a stronger position to identify and target materials that are not being recycled correctly. We produced individual reports and datasets for each authority by waste stream and individual materials. A comprehensive combined report covering all authorities for the GMWCA as a whole was also produced.

Our reports were presented back to GMCA alongside colourful infographics that showed the simple facts and figures about what is currently not recycled by the residents of Greater Manchester, but could be. These were produced to inform a variety of audiences in a simple but effective way.