Food Waste Collection in the UK

On average 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK. A lot of this waste is due to supermarkets and restaurants throwing away food they can’t sell.  

But what about household waste… 

How much food do you throw away in a week? After examining last year’s food waste data, we found the council areas with the most and least waste collection.  

According to government waste data, 847,000 tonnes of household food waste was collected in 2020-21. The average collected by local authority was 7,058 tonnes.  

Belfast City Council collected the most household food waste last year with 30,252 tonnes – over four times the average.

At the other end of the spectrum, Shetland Islands only reported one tonne of household food waste collected in 2019 (latest data available), which is under 1kg per person.  

Scotland’s local authorities saw their recycling rates fall over the last couple of years. With Scottish government pointed to the closure of recycling centres during lockdown restrictions having a major impact.

Now let’s look at what this food waste equates to per person. If we account for population, these are the areas with the most food waste per person – 

food waste UK map infograhpic

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean these are the areas wasting the most food. Some areas might have more food waste that isn’t collected for whatever reason (people discarding food in with general waste, different councils dealing with food collection for different areas, among other reasons).  

But it does give us a rough idea of how much food is wasted per person in the UK. The average in 2020-21 was 44kg and several areas fell well above or below this average.

Environmental Impact 

There are wider environmental concerns with food waste. When food ends up in landfill it breaks down, producing carbon dioxide and methane emissions. The real problem is the methane produced by food waste – a gas 25 times more potent than CO2. 

Using this formula, we can see how greenhouse gases from food waste compare to everyday household electricity consumption –

On average council areas produced 13.4 thousand tonnes of potential CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent from greenhouse gases) from food waste in 2020-21. This is the same CO2-e produced from 2.3 million days of electricity consumption in an average household.    

Many councils deal with food waste in different ways – much of our food waste is recycled or incinerated for clean energy. So keep in mind that this is the potential carbon emissions from collected food waste (calculations assume it was all sent to rot in landfill). Emissions will vary from council to council, depending on how they deal with their food waste.

Note – Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) is a metric for measuring how greenhouse gases affect global warming, relative to carbon dioxide. 

Find your area by exploring our full dataset here. (Please right-click column header to filter results)


The Solar Centre compiled food waste collection data reported by Local Authority Waste Management in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The population of each council is based on estimates provided by the Office of National Statistics.  

We were only able to report on data from councils who submitted figures for household food waste. Please note – several councils have no reported data for household food waste collection in 2020-21.

The average food waste collected per person was calculated by taking the total mass (Tonnes) collected and divided by the population from the councils that provided waste collection data. 


Merry Christmas from The Solar Centre! Get into the Christmas spirit with our festive brain teasers

By now most of you probably have your Christmas lights up and are getting into the spirit of the season. If you fancy some festive fun one evening then try our Christmas song puzzle – it’s our toughest brain teaser yet!

We shared this brain teaser with 100 quizzers to see how they fared. On average, respondents were only able to find six of the ten song titles in the picture and 42 percent of quizzers got five or fewer correct answers within five minutes.  

Don’t fret if you don’t get all the answers in one go – only four percent were able to get full marks. Be sure to tell everyone if you’re one of the top elves in the workshop!  

Can you find the 10 Christmas song titles from clues in the image?

If you made light work of that, why not give these Solar Centre classics below a try?  

Can you spot the Christmas word hidden in the string of lights? 

The quickest time to spot the word here at The Solar centre was an impressive 7 seconds! Can you find it any faster? 

Can you spot the Christmas word hidden in the star of lights? 

This one took us slightly longer to solve with an average time of 29 seconds. 

Can you spot the Christmas word hidden in the reindeer of lights? 

This one proved to be the hardest one with 21% of people at The Solar Centre not being able to solve it at all! 

Answers – Christmas songs brain teaser:

  1. Rockin’ Robin
  2. Rocking around the Christmas Tree
  3. Silver Bells
  4. I Wish it could be Christmas every day
  5. Blue Christmas
  6. White Christmas
  7. Little Drummer Boy
  8. Santa Baby
  9. Jingle Bell Rock
  10. Stop the Cavalry

Answers – Christmas lights brain teaser:

Answer 1

Answer 2

Answer 3

Can You Spot Which Horror Characters are in Kim Kardashian’s ‘Blackout’ Outfit?

Halloween is fast approaching, with many of us already scrambling to decide on a costume for this year’s celebrations. Particularly after last year’s restrictions, many revellers will be looking to make a statement. 

Some of the best costumes are topical ones, reflecting on recent pop culture highlights of the year. In 2021, we can expect to see Squid Game contestants, Bennifer couples’ costumes, and of course, Kim Kardashian’s iconic met gala look

There is no doubt this look will be replicated by trick or treaters everywhere.  

Can you guess the iconic horror characters wearing Kim K’s blackout costume? 

Where is the real Kim K? Help us find Kim Kardashian among the ghoulish imposters 

Answers (from left to right):

  1. Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street) 
  2. Edward Scissor Hands 
  3. Chuckie (Child’s Play) 
  4. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (IT) 
  5. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs) 
  6. The Pale Man (Pan’s Labyrinth) 
  7. Frank N-Furter (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) 
  8. Xenomorph (Alien) 
  9. Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th
  10. Frankenstein 
  11. Death / The Grim Reaper 
  12. The Babadook 
  13. Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas) 
  14. Billy the Puppet (Saw)
  15. Demogorgon (Stranger Things)

Find the real Kim Kardashian answer – she’s in the top right corner:

Check out our range of decorative lights – perfect for Halloween and beyond – by clicking here. 

Neighbour Nuisances – Councils reveal the number of noise and nuisance complaints they receive yearly

Two women arguing in the garden

Unfortunately, summer 2021 hasn’t quite panned out as we’d all hoped so far in the UK. However, for most of us it will almost certainly top last year when the country was largely in lockdown.

With the country stuck inside for most of 2020, we had a lot more time spent close to our neighbours. For some people, that is not necessarily a good thing!

Neighbour nuisance, man peeping through garden fence

According to councils across the UK, over 1.3 million complaints were made against neighbour noise, nuisance and anti-social behaviour since 2016.

Funnily enough, the number of complaints increased by 28% in 2020 compared to the yearly average.

This is based on data provided to us at The Solar Centre by councils, as part of our recent research into neighbour disputes in the UK. While many people have used lockdown to work on their garden, we thought it would be interesting to see how the extra time at home would affect neighbour relationships – and the results haven’t disappointed!

Enjoy the findings from our research for yourselves by clicking the link.

Noisy neighbour playing loud piano

Solar Energy in Britain – The Most Active Councils

Did you know that today is the start of Big Energy Saving Week 2021? This annual campaign aims to help people cut back on fuel bills and make their homes more fuel efficient.

So, we thought we should take a closer look at renewable energy in Britain – naturally, we investigated solar power. Which cities in England are taking the biggest strides towards a sustainable future?

Solar power light bulb

To find out, we have been busy gathering information from city councils all across Britain. This data will help give us a better idea of the areas in England, Scotland and Wales that are showing the most interest in solar energy. 

We wanted to see not only how much energy each council is producing via solar power, but the amount of recent investment put in as well. Some city councils have spent big outlays on solar energy in the past and as such, they already have good solar production in place. Others have spent consistently in recent years and will see the full benefits in the next few decades. It is clear to see the emphasis on solar power investment in some cities compared to others though.

Man fitting solar panels

It is interesting to discover how much your local area is doing in terms of solar power – the results may surprise you! You can see for yourself, with our interactive dataset here. We have put together an interactive map of the UK to display the results. Find out which council has invested most, which area has equipped the most buildings with PV panels and which city produces the most solar energy for their council.

Map of UK solar energy

If you would also like to learn more about Big Energy Saving Week you can visit

Incredible images show potentially catastrophic effects of wildfires near major cities

Harrowing images this week revealed the extent of the damage caused by the West Coast wildfires. Apocalyptic scenes in San Francisco show the skyline glowing orange as shocked residents look on.

It is the latest reminder of the devastating impact we are having on our planet – with the fires raging across the West Coast following the recent heat waves. The vast majority of wildfires in the US are manmade, often caused by car exhaust fumes igniting nearby vegetation.

While these fires are common in the West Coast of America and in Australia, among others, imagine what it might look like if these events occurred in more places around the world.

These images, made using Photoshop, show what could happen to other major cities and landmarks if they suffer this sort of devastation in the future:


London city with red sky from wildfire


Paris city with red sky from wildfire


Rome city with red sky from wildfire


Barcelona city with red sky from wildfire

New York

New York City with red sky from wildfire

UK’s Best Seaside Resorts Ranked

It’s been a long hard year for everyone so far, but on the bright side – it’s summer. And while there is still a lot of work to do, life is starting to move slowly back towards normality. Summer holidays plans in 2020 have taken a hit so many people will be hoping for a staycation, and if you live in the UK that can only mean one thing – a trip to the seaside.

The question is, where can you find the best seaside in the UK? We set out to find the answer. All of us at The Solar Centre want everybody to stay safe this summer and hope that our guide to Britain’s seaside towns will help you pick out some hidden gems and find the best beaches near you, which might be a bit quieter than some of the big names. Whatever you choose to do this summer, we all must make sure to keep safe, clean up after ourselves and protect each other.

For our list, we’ve ranked each seaside resort on seven different factors that make up the perfect day by the beach. So, whether you are a surfer, sunbather, dog-walker or just want to enjoy a bag of chips by the sea, this list should help you find the daytrip you are looking for. 91 seaside resorts from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were examined and given a score from 0-10 based on the data. The seven scoring categories are:

  • Cloudiness
  • Temperature
  • Water Temperature
  • Quality of Beaches
  • Fish and Chips
  • Price of Beer
  • Parking

Each town was given a final score, by finding the average across all seven ranking factors. We also included national mini leagues, ranking the towns from each individual country to highlight the best of each country. So, wherever you’re from, whether it be England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can find the best seaside resorts your nation has to offer.

View the full interactive here to discover the best beaches in Britain. 

Climate Change Events in 2019 & Their Impact on UK Search Popularity

While climate change is a global problem, public climate interest can vary from nation to nation. Last year, more events fuelled the climate debate. In April 2019, it was reported that 80% of the British public are now “fairly” or “very” concerned about climate change. This is the highest it has ever been.

At The Solar Centre, we wanted to understand what was causing British people to take interest in the climate change debate at different points of the year. Our aim from this research was to find out what type of event (climate protest, celebrity campaigning or climate emergencies etc.) was the most influential in getting the public to take notice of the ecological crisis.

Our Research

We collected data from Google Trends to find the points of the year with the highest search interest for “climate change”. After this, we managed to find the most popular news story that occurred at that specific time by using Google News’ custom date function.

Below we can see which events caused an increase in search at different points across 2019.

Once stories were successfully attributed to a point in time, we worked out each media event’s impact on search popularity by subtracting its total popularity score from the previous period. In occasions where there were multiple stories in a certain time frame, hence multiple stories could be responsible for a surge in interest, we divided the percentage search increase by the total number of events in that time frame.

What were the most influential climate events of 2019?


It is evident that the most crucial event of 2019, in the public climate change debate, was Greta Thunberg’s “Fridays For Future” protest on 20th September. This alone increased search popularity for “climate change” by 68%. While there had been several “Fridays For Future” protests prior to this, the September protest proved to be the largest. Over 4 million people participated worldwide. Amazon employees were so inspired by Greta, that around 1,500 Amazon workers walked out of work to protest Jeff Bezos’ “Shipment Zero”, a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040, as not strong enough.

Climate Change – The Facts by David Attenborough also had a considerable impact with a 59% rise in search popularity when it aired on the 18th of April.

What Type of Event Engages The Public?

Climate protests were the most influential type of event. This was followed by factual evidence. However, without David Attenborough’s Climate Change – The Facts, factual evidence would have considerably less impact. Both protests and factual evidence seem much more influential than any conference, political debate and/or climate summit.  

Worryingly, climate emergencies (including those that happened in Brazil and Australia) had limited impact. Celebrity campaigning had some impact on raising popularity. Notably, the 1975 releasing a song with Greta Thunberg and Coldplay deciding against touring their new album globally. Similarly, the most effective Extinction Rebellion protest was when celebrities joined in. For this particular rally of protests, there were some high-profile arrests, including Jane Fonda.

Which Individuals Are The Most Influential?

On the individual front, the three most influential people were:

  • Greta Thunberg – 116.5% increase in climate change interest (including here indirect involvement in the Youth Strike 4 Climate strikes)
  • David Attenborough – 59% increase in climate change search popularity
  • Donald Trump – 34% increase in climate change search interest

While Trump may have skewed public opinion in an anti-environmentalist direction, this is yet to be determined. However, what is clear is that his anti-environmentalist views were effective in leading people to research the facts themselves.

David Attenborough, on the other hand, is continuing his programming work with his new feature-length documentary “A Life On Our Planet” debuting at the Royal Albert Hall on April 16th. His campaigns are seemingly getting tougher, with an agenda of introducing a “one-child policy” and openly criticising parliament of not prioritising climate change

Last but certainly not least, Greta Thunberg had an incredible year and it looks unlikely to stop in 2020 with the recent news that she is set to trademark her name and the #FridaysForFuture movement to stop people from impersonating her.

Which Christmas Villain has Stolen the Fairy Lights?

1 of these 15 Christmas villains has been up to no good and stolen our fairy lights! We’re asking people to see if they can spot which Christmas villain it is and only 22% of people can spot it in under a minute!

Can you spot which Christmas has stolen the fairy lights? They’ll certainly be on Santa’s naughty list.

Did you spot which villain stole the Christmas lights? You can find out here.

To make keep your home safe from villains this Christmas, check out our range of our solar security lighting.

How to Secure Your Home and Deter Burglars

Are you protecting your home from burglary? Check out what you can do to keep your property safe with our in-depth guide and checklist.

Burglary within the UK is one of the most common crimes committed, with a burglary happening every 108 seconds. They often have serious financial and emotional effects on the victims. According to the ONS Crime report, the average cost of a residential burglary in the UK is £3,030, in the year ending March 2019 the UK witnessed a total cost of almost £900 million from residential burglaries.

The seriousness of protecting your home is not something to take lightly. Luckily, with increased awareness, homeowners are becoming savvier to the necessity of protecting their valuables and loved ones. Analysis from Google trends shows an 11% increase in queries relating to “home security” over the past year within the UK.

Home Security Checklist

Here at The Solar Centre, we’ve devised a home security checklist which is loosely based on hints and tips by former burglars, as no one gives better advice on the subject than those with firsthand experience. This list is designed to be the ultimate guide on keeping your home safe.

Home security basics

  • Lock your doors and close your windows.
  • Ensure doors are sturdily installed.
  • Consider putting screws on your door frames if you are fearful your doors are not secure.
  • Steel is a perfect material and avoids the temptation for burglars to kick down your door.
  • Change your locks when you move in and if you lose your keys then get your locks changed immediately.
  • Don’t leave keys under doormats or pots, instead find a more secure spot.
  • Keep your valuable goods away from windows.

It is important to protect your most valuable possessions, so we’ve collected data on how some of the most commonly stolen items have changed over the years. Are these possessions hidden safely away in your home?

Data on how stolen items from residential burglaries have changed from 2008 to 2018 within the UK

Make sure your presence is known (even when you aren’t there)

  • Clear all old newspapers from your porch and letterbox.
  • Make sure you regularly open and close curtains each day and night.
  • Turn your lights on when in the house.
  • Consider a dog or train your current pet to bark at signs of disturbance.
  • Produce signs that highlight you have alarms and don’t leave old alarms that are in poor condition insight.
  • Leave the radio on while you are away, the Nature of Burglary report estimates that 70% of burglaries happen on a weekday while homeowners are at work. If you believe radios are too cliché to fool burglars, investigate streaming some anti-theft home occupancy sounds.
  • Trim any plants back to ensure you are completely viewable to the street.
  • If you are worried about leaving your house alone, ask a neighbour to check in.
  • Avoid posting about any holiday on social media.

Be wary of your social interactions and surroundings

  • Stay vigilant to suspicious lurkers outside your home.
  • Never let anyone into your home without credentials (they may be checking out your valuables and security system to see if it is worth robbing you).
  • Do not let strangers in to use your phone or any other facilities.

Get the right equipment

  • Conceal wiring on your security system (this can be disconnected by intelligent burglars)
  • Avoid spring-latch locks as they can be loided, this is where an expert at breaking and entering slips a plastic card against the latch to unlock the door. Deadbolts are a far better alternative.

Investing in the latest security solutions is the best way to scare burglars. Worryingly the number of victims falling for repeat burglary incidents has risen 16% over the past year. Burglars have no reason not to return if they have been successful once, and considering they already know the best escape routes and types of valuables you have; it saves them time planning.

Spending Money On a Solid Security System

Keeping your home secure doesn’t have to break the bank. Below we outline different home security choices.

  • Anti-theft home occupancy devices
    • Home Occupancy Sounds (Price estimate: free)
      • Some people don’t trust simply using radios anymore. Hence, home occupancy sounds were invented as solutions for when you are going away for a weekend or long holiday. The idea is to play ambient mundane house sounds from a speaker as if to simulate occupancy. These are completely free and you are able to get these sounds on streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and YouTube  
    • Security Timer Plugs (Price estimate: £10-£20)
      • Another option for when you are away is a security timer plug. These will enable you to create the illusion that the house is occupied by setting a timer on lamps, televisions and radios.
  • Burglar Alarms
    • Smart Home Alarms (Price estimate: £190 – £600)
      • Described as the future of burglar alarms, smart home security has received a vast amount of interest in recent years. They operate as a traditional alarm but allow you to control it completely from your app on a smartphone or tablet.
      • Unsurprisingly, like all smart home devices, their unique functionality comes at a steeper price. However, typically smart home alarms are combined with an entire system (wireless security cameras, sirens, door locks and state of the art motion sensors). Systems can be instructed to record when certain things happen, i.e. a door opens.
      • Low-value devices can cost just £190, but for the whole security package, you would expect to spend up to £600.
    • Wired Alarm Systems vs Wireless Alarm Systems (Price estimate: depends on the size of home)
      • Hardwired alarm systems are renowned to be superior in terms of reliability. Furthermore, if your home is already prewired for a security system, wired systems will be very straightforward to install, hence it may be worth opting for this.
      • Alternatively, if you don’t have a security system pre-installed, a wireless system may be the best option. Installation in this instance will be a lot simpler and there will be no necessary home modifications to make.
      • Another advantage of wireless systems is that they can be used in remote places where wired systems are unable to reach. Furthermore, the fact they’re no visible cables means the system is next to impossible for burglars to tamper with.
  • CCTV
    • Night Vision CCTV (Price estimate: £100 – £250)
      • Considering for both weekend and weekday burglaries, evenings are the preferred time of day for 61% of burglaries, night vision is a worthy investment.
      • Depending on your budget night cameras can show black and white or sometimes coloured images of your home in the pitch black.
    • Mini Cameras (Price estimate: £30 – £99)
      • Typically employed for indoor security, mini cameras can be efficient in identifying burglars due to their inconspicuous nature, but for this reason, they are not recommended as a scare tactic. They can, however, also be a cheap solution for stairwell monitoring for small children and elderly relatives.
  • Door Security
    • The Nature of Burglary report also shows 70% of burglars came through the front door. Looking at greater depth, 29% of the time the lock was forced open, while 14% of the time the door was not locked. It may seem obvious but making sure your door is locked and the lock is bolted could severely reduce your chances of being burgled. A deadlock should be tested to BS 3621.
    • In addition to this, ensure your door frames are solid, estimated door measurements should be 4.4cm thick with 10cm hinges.
    • If you choose to further screw your door, ensure they are compliant to British Standard BS 7950. 
    • Steel doors are preferred as they discourage burglars from kicking down your door. Wooden doors and doors with glass panels should ideally be changed if you feel you live in a high-risk burglary region. (link to burglary region table)
  • Driveway Security Bollards (Price estimate: £100-£500)
    • For some, cars are one of our biggest financial investments and as such can be a prize target to thieves. One popular security method here is to employ a driveway security bollard. These can be raised and lowered automatically on approach using a fob key. Alternatively, at a lower cost, homeowners can purchase a security bollard that requires manual action.
  • Garden Security
    • Sheds and garages are an easy target. Often homeowners sacrifice measures here in order to prioritize their budget with indoor security. Burglars know this and take advantage. Outdoor buildings are particularly vulnerable at night (78% of burglaries in a non-connected building near a dwelling happen in the evening). Hence combining security with night vision is wise. Padlocks on shed and garage doors fitted with battery-powered alarms can be extremely effective and cost just £15.
    • Security lights (Price estimate: £15 – £200)
      • Lights are a fantastic option for garden security. They can either be manually turned on or triggered by movement. Often, they are enough to deter burglars from coming again, as they act as an initial warning sign of your solid security system.
  • Window Security
    • Another important insight from The Nature of Burglary report shows 25% of burglaries in 2018 happened by intruders entering through a window. Apart from keeping windows shut and locked, make sure all windows are fitted to double glazing standards making the windows harder to break. Any new windows must be in line to the British Standard 7950/ PAS 24. It is also important to have alarms viewable or signs near windows to deter burglars.

Are Home Security Systems Worth The Money?

We’ve also taken the average cost of a security alarm (£500) so you can see how much you’d potentially save by investing in one.

We’ve collected data on the cost of burglaries to each region of the UK so you can see the average amount which is lost in your area.

The estimated cost per household of a burglar within different regions of the UK (according to the Office of National Statistics) and how much home owners could save with a standard security alarm (average cost of £500).