Green Sending: the councils spending the most money on environmental issues

Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the world, and while we all have our part to play, the role of government in reducing waste and emissions is vitally important.

From safely collecting and disposing of our waste to investing in cleaner energy sources, local councils do a lot to try and reduce their carbon footprint, but which authorities around the country are doing the most?

We’ve analysed the budgets of over 300 councils around England to see which spent the most on a variety of green initiatives.

Note that different authorities are responsible for different services in each area, so there may be more than one authority that contributes to green spending in an area: e.g. the local council, wider council for the county or metropolitan area and local waste authority.

1. Greater London - £716,157,000
By far the area with the greatest spending when it comes to green initiatives is Greater London, which encapsulates the whole of the capital city other than the historic central district known as the City of London.

Over £700 million was spent in London in the last year, during which time the Mayor of London launched the “Green New Deal”, promising millions to boost green jobs and tackle air pollution and global warming.

2. Greater Manchester - £208,581,000
The authority outside of London that has the highest annual spending when it comes to environmental services is the Greater Manchester area, which covers not just Manchester itself, but also the surrounding districts too.

In total, the region’s council spent over £208 million on green services, including £21 million received from the European Regional Development Fund to help turn the city into a ‘world-leading’ urban green city region.

3. West Midlands - £187,424,000
The West Midlands is home to the country’s second-biggest city, Birmingham, and had the third-highest level of green spending, with over £187 million.

The West Midlands recently published its plans for future green spending, which involve investing in cleaner transport projects, making room for new energy-efficient homes, and encouraging people to find work in emerging green industries.

  • Excluding London

Waste collection - West Midlands (£60,865,000)
One of the services that we come across most often in our day to day lives is waste collection, ensuring that all of our household waste is collected from our houses and taken away to be disposed of as safely and environmentally friendly as possible. The county containing the nation’s second city, Birmingham, had the second-largest expenditure here, spending over £60.8 million annually.

Waste disposal - Greater Manchester (£132,844,000)
Waste disposal refers to what actually happens to our waste after it has been collected. While councils aim to send as little waste to landfills as possible, this is still where a great deal of our waste ends up if it cannot be disposed of in a greener way. Greater Manchester had the second-highest spending here, however, with £132.8 million.

Trade waste - West Midlands (£13.5 million)
Trade waste is all the waste created by the activities of businesses and can vary from everything from construction waste to things such as electronic waste, packaging, food and more.

Outside of London, the West Midlands spends the most on dealing with this kind of waste (£13.5 million).

Recycling - Essex (£54.1 million)
Recycling is one of the biggest tools councils have when it comes to reducing waste, converting it into new materials and objects.

The county of Essex had the highest total expenditure outside of London when it comes to recycling, with £54.1 million.

Waste minimisation - Hertfordshire (£4.4 million)
As well as collecting and safely disposing of and recycling waste, councils also have a duty to ensure that we create less waste in the first place.

This can be achieved by a couple of means, such as modifying some of the council’s procedures and procurement practices, with Hertfordshire having the greatest expenditure here, with £4.4 million, meaning waste minimisation was the only factor where a country outside of London had the highest spent.

Climate change costs - City of Nottingham (£3.8 million)
Finally, the council that spends the most money directly on climate change is the City of Nottingham, with an annual expenditure of £3.8 million, which was significantly more than many


All figures sourced from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s local authority revenue expenditure and financing data, released in June 2021 and refers to the total expenditure of each relevant authority within the county in 2019-20.

In instances where a council spends £0 on a certain service, this is because these services will likely be covered by another authority.