For yet another year running, Birmingham City Council has been found to be the worst local authority for reuse and recycling in the West Midlands.

The figures found by Birmingham Friends of the Earth show that the city council recycled less than 27% of household waste during 2014-15 and produced 641.6 tonnes of residual black bag waste.

Not only are these figures unacceptable, they rank Birmingham well below other West Midlands local authorities, setting a poor example for sustainablitiy as the regions largest city. The rate of recycling has dropped marginally from the previous year, when 29% of Birmingham’s waste was recycled. Birmingham’s recycling rates over the past three years have been fairly static and have certainly not improved nor instilled much hope.

The figures show that Stratford-upon-Avon continues to rank well above Birmingham, recycling 60.3% of their waste. Staffordshire Moorlands, Warwick, Lichfield and five other councils across the West Midlands all recycle over 50% of their household waste and Stratford-upon-Avon, Staffordshire Moorlands and Warwick all produce under 400 tonnes of residual waste.

These are strong figures that set a leading example for those councils who are failing to keep up. Instead of leading transformation across the region, Birmingham falls far behind these councils in their efforts to handle waste sustainably. For a city that is vibrant, innovative and progressive in so many ways, this just isn’t good enough.

Birmingham also ranks lowest among core city councils for reuse and recycling and again produces the most black bag waste. Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne all recycle over 40% of their household waste, and Birmingham’s 641.6 tonnes of residual black bag waste can be compared to Bristol’s 487.5 tonnes and Manchester’s 502.5.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth argue that the end of the city’s contract with Veolia in 2019 should be seen as an opportunity for a complete transformation of Birmingham’s waste system and a much more progressive approach to the way the council uses waste as a resource.

Our waste campaigner Libby Harris said

“Birmingham City Council should look at other midlands local authorities and other cities across the UK, to see how they’re making better use of the resources in their waste. For example there is a clear difference between those local authorities who offer a free food waste collection and those who don’t.

“Local authorities with high recycling rates such as Stratford Upon Avon and Warwick offer a free service for the collection of household food waste. In contrast to the three worst areas at recycling, Birmingham, Reading and Wyre Forest, who do not offer a household food waste collection service.”

Our Waste Isn’t Rubbish campaign is calling on Birmingham City Council to implement a zero waste system for the city that makes the best use of the city’s resources locally including:

  • Making it easier for people to recycle food waste by providing a food waste collection and more support for home and community composting.
  • Making it easier for people to recycle more types of waste from home.
  • Using local companies to process the waste.

The rate at which other West Midland local authorities and Core City councils are reusing and recycling their waste shows just how poor Birmingham’s efforts have been. To avoid another year as the lowest ranking city for waste sustainability within these two groups, Birmingham City Council must utilise the end of their contract with Veolia and radicalise their approach to waste.

See full table of 2014-15 statistics for waste and recycling in the West Midlands See full table of 2014-15 statistics for waste and recycling in the Core Cities