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Waste management industry

Research guide

Published: 25 May 2021 Updated: 05 Oct 2021 Update History

Exclusive content
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Use our industry guide to find key background information, market research, import and export guidelines, statistics, legislation, trade bodies and trade publications.

The Business & Industry Guides series is produced by the Library & Information Service for ICAEW members and ACA students.

We can compile tailored key players reports, mailing lists, market reports, benchmarking reports and industry news. Our enquiry team can also research other industry-specific information, such as taxation, for you. Call us on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

Trends and forecasts

COVID-19 and the UK waste sector
Briefing from Tolvik Consulting assessing the impact of COVID-19 during the second quarter of 2020 on the UK waste sector, with a particular focus on residual waste. Includes a series of projections for residual waste in England for the rest of 2020-21 and through to 2025. Published in November 2020.

Waste and resource management review 2018
Report by Grant Thornton on M&A activity in the UK waste sector. Provides analysis of the strategies that are driving activity, as well as broader political factors. Highlights future trends for the waste and resource management sector over the coming years and key opportunities for businesses. Published in May 2018.

What a waste 2.0: A global snapshot of solid waste management to 2050
Report from the World Bank Group providing solid waste data at a regional and national level with estimates for waste generation to 2030 and 2050. Also covers: waste management costs, revenues, and tariffs; special wastes; regulations; administrative and operational models; the informal sector. Published in September 2018.

Market research

Market research reports focusing on this business sector are available from a number of market research specialists. In most cases these reports are available to fee-paying subscribers or on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Some free information is available from the following market research specialists, ranging from industry news to executive summaries of the reports.

A full listing of reference products and research reports for the utilities and recycling sector, with a range of global, country and company level reports. Each report provides a contents listing and a useful executive summary reporting on the key trends in each country report.

A full listing of reports for the waste management sector, both for the UK and internationally. Report snapshots, table of contents and a sample report are available to view.

Details of Mintel's regular market report on the UK Waste Management and Recycling sector. The website includes a short summary and the option to view the report's contents listing.

Useful links

Anaerobic digestion and composting industry market survey report 2020
Report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) providing information on the anaerobic digestion and composting industries in England including capacity and throughput.

Industry news

The Library can carry out industry news searches for ICAEW members and ACA students.

Statistics on the UK

Office for National Statistics

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) from the Office for National Statistics collects financial information covering UK production, construction, distribution and service industries. Statistics available include:

  • number of enterprises;
  • total turnover;
  • approximate gross value added at basic prices;
  • total purchases of goods, materials and services;
  • total employment – average during the year;
  • total employment costs;
  • total net capital expenditure;
  • total net capital expenditure – acquisitions;
  • total net capital expenditure – disposals;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at end of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at beginning of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – increase during year.

The dataset Non-financial business economy, UK: Sections A to S includes statistics for:

  • Waste collection (38.1)
  • Collection of non-hazardous waste (38.11)
  • Collection of hazardous waste (38.12)
  • Waste treatment and disposal (38.2)
  • Treatment and disposal of non-hazardous waste (38.21)
  • Treatment and disposal of hazardous waste (38.22)
  • Materials recovery (38.3)
  • Dismantling of wrecks (38.31)
  • Recovery of sorted materials (38.32)
  • Remediation activities and other waste management services (39)

See Section E - Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities.

  • Wholesale of waste and scrap (46.77)

See Division 46 - Wholesale trade.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Defra publishes a collection of statistics on waste and recycling. Includes data on waste produced at a UK level, waste infrastructure and local authority collected waste management.

Tolvik Consulting

The report UK energy from waste statistics 2020 was published in May 2021 by Tolvik Consulting and provides a comprehensive overview of data on the UK Energy from Waste (EfW) sector. Includes a market overview and sections on waste inputs, energy, operations, compliance and capacity development.

Statistics on Europe


Eurostat, the EU statistics hub, collates detailed Structural Business Statistics giving the latest figures for industry, construction, trade and services by sector and country. The indicators available include:

  • number of enterprises
  • turnover or gross premiums written
  • production value
  • value added at factor cost
  • gross operating surplus
  • wages and salaries
  • social security costs
  • gross investment in tangible goods
  • gross investment in land
  • gross investment in existing buildings and structures
  • gross investment in construction and alteration of buildings
  • gross investment in machinery and equipment
  • number of employees
  • number of persons employed per enterprise.

Statistics within the database are available for:

  • Waste collection (E381)
  • Collection of non-hazardous waste (E3811)
  • Collection of hazardous waste (E3812)
  • Waste treatment and disposal (E382)
  • Treatment and disposal of non-hazardous waste (E3821)
  • Treatment and disposal of hazardous waste (E3822)
  • Materials recovery (E383)
  • Dismantling of wrecks (E3831)
  • Recovery of sorted materials (E3832)
  • Remediation activities and other waste management services (E39)

See database section ‘SBS – industry and construction’.

  • Wholesale of waste and scrap (G4677)
    See database section ‘SBS – trade’

Eurostat also produces regular statistics on waste covering generation and treatment, shipment of waste between countries and key waste streams.

Global statistics


The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) collects and compiles industrial statistics known as INDSTAT, which give information on:

  • number of employees
  • number of establishments
  • output
  • value added
  • total wages and salaries.

Statistics by country are available for:

  • Recycling of metal waste and scrap (3710)
  • Recycling of non-metal waste and scrap (3720)

Bureau of International Recycling

The Bureau of International Recycling produces a series of Facts and Figures publications containing world recycling data and statistics for commodities including plastics, steel, paper and board.



Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings
Average employment costs within this sector are available from Table 14 of the Office for National Statistics publication Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings(ASHE). Average employment costs are provided for full-time employees, part-time employees and all employees.

The data includes average employment costs for:

  • Refuse and salvage occupations
  • Waste disposal and environmental services managers

Other regions

Please see individual country profile pages for links to sources of national statistics.

Legislation and regulation


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a section on waste and recycling, which includes latest regulations affecting this industry.

Gov.uk provides information on the management of waste. Includes guidance on different waste types, permits and licences and the movement, treatment, storage and disposal of waste.


The waste association Municipal Waste Europe provides a summary of EU waste legislation. Includes both municipal and other waste legislation.

UK business guides

Atom Content Marketing guides

The Sectors Donut from Atom Content Marketing provides practical information on starting up and running a number of small business types. Guides cover a range of areas including market research, regulations, pricing, revenue streams, costs and staffing. They include:

UK key players, ratios and trends

A range of reports on this sector are available to ICAEW members and ACA students via the Library.

UK benchmarking

The Library can supply benchmarking reports to ICAEW members and ACA students.


Reports on this sector can be supplied by the Library to ICAEW members and ACA students.

Trade journals and publications

Trade journals, B2B magazines and specialist consumer magazines are another useful source of news and statistics.

Trade bodies

Further reading

Articles and books in the Library collection

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.

You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post or email through our document supply service.

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