Greater Manchester Waste Analysis

In Feb 2019 we completed a waste composition analysis project that was, as far as we are aware, the largest waste analysis project for a single authority for 25 years.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority are committed to a ‘zero waste’ agenda, aiming to prevent waste at source and recycle more. Following a previous waste composition analysis back in 2011, it was identified that 70% of the waste collected at the kerbside via the four bin system was potentially recyclable or compostable, so strict recycling targets were set for the following years. The GMCA are now keen to see what impact current strategies and implementation plans have been having on their targets since 2011.

Our research needed to include the following:

  • Assess the logistical feasibility of meeting the 60% recycling target by 2025. Are current strategies and implementation plans having sufficient impact
  • Maximise treatment capability. It is important for the Authority to understand the composition of the waste flowing through all waste management facilities to identify the potential to increase recovery and recycling rates
  • Judge the effectiveness of the aims within the Authority’s Business Plan 2016/20 to change householder behaviour towards waste through the promotion of the waste hierarchy and achieve reduced contamination in the recycling streams
  • Use the data alongside the WRAP’s Tracker and segmentation tools to drive and focus communication strategies to maximise the impact of future communication campaigns.

In order to understand what can be done to prevent the needless use of landfill sites, large samples of different waste streams were collected and sorted from a representative proportion of the 1,017,000 households within the Authority.

The fieldwork was conducted over two phases to get more accurate annual results due to seasonal changes and included the analysis of waste from nine collection authorities where we collected and sorted household residual, recycling, food and garden waste. We also sorted waste from general waste skips from 20 Household Waste and Recycling Centres.

Our findings were presented back to the GMCA as individual household reports for each of the nine authorities, large authority reports showing the results for Greater Manchester as a whole, and infographics stating the facts and figures.

Read our Case Study about our Approach and Methodologies here.

If you have a similar project that you would like to discuss with our Waste Insights team, please contact us on 0121 333 9161 or email