Updated UK statistics on waste 

The UK Government has released a new update to its official statistics on waste. 

The latest report features packaging waste figures for 2021, which have now been finalised.  

Some of the new data relevant to the flexo and wider packaging industries is included below, click here to read the report in full. 

UK recovery/recycling rates for packaging materials for 2021 are calculated based on the amount of packaging reported as being recycled under the regulations in each year and the total amount of packaging materials estimated to be placed on the UK market in each year. 

Table: Packaging waste and recycling, split by material, UK 2021 (thousand tonnes and % rate) 

Material  Packaging waste arising  Total recycled  Achieved recycling rate 
Metal   756  574  76.0% 
— of which: Aluminium  209  156  74.8% 
— of which: Steel  547  418  76.4% 
Paper and cardboard  5,389  3,802  70.6% 
Glass  2,581  1,899  73.6% 
Plastic  2,514  1,112  44.2% 
Wood  1,433  632  44.1% 
Other* materials  23  0  0.0% 
Total (for recycling)  12,696  8,019  63.2% 

Source: Defra Statistics 

This table shows the amount of packaging waste and the amount recycled broken down by material type. In 2021, 63.2% of UK packaging waste was recycled. Recycling accounted for 8.0 million tonnes of the 12.7 million tonnes of packaging waste arisings in 2021. Paper and cardboard had the highest waste arisings, at 5.4 million tonnes. 

The highest recycling rate achieved in 2021 was 76.0% for metal, followed by 73.6% for glass and 70.6% for paper and cardboard. 

The full report is available to read here. 

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