Brilliant Bristol bags sustainable city honour

By John Pinching
Bristol, Bournemouth and Cardiff crowned sustainability kings – hipsters of London must do better

A new study has revealed the most sustainable cities across the UK, with perennial sustainability pioneers Bristol bagging the top spot, while London rots at the bottom of the food caddy in second to last place. 

The global study conducted by clothes2order looked at cities throughout the UK to discover which have the most impressive sustainable credentials.

The UK’s top three sustainable cities are:-

1. Bristol – 6.79/10 sustainability score

  • Bristol takes the top spot as the greenest city in the UK. Its universities have the fifth highest sustainability score in the country averaging 55.9/100. The city also has the fifth highest recycling rate in the UK and the second most charity shops per 100,000 people. 

  • Bristol has long been recognised as a leader in sustainability, being named the most sustainable city back in 2008 by Forum for the Future, and it was named European Green Capital in 2015.

  • In 2019, the city’s council moved to ban all privately owned diesel cars from the city centre although this has since been revised to install a ‘Clean Air Zone’.

2. Bournemouth – 6.04/10 sustainability score

  • The seaside town of Bournemouth comes in second place thanks to having the second highest rate of recycling, and the sixth most renewable electricity sites per 100,000 people.

  • Some of the initiatives that Bournemouth has introduced in recent years include the collection of food and garden waste and replacing street lighting with more efficient alternatives.

3. Cardiff – 6.01/10 sustainability score 

  • Cardiff holds the impressive title of having the highest recycling rate in the country, with 58.1% of household waste being recycled, and the seventh most charity shops per 100,000 people.

  • A couple of years ago the city announced a £2bn plan to tackle climate change, including introducing a congestion charge.


The highest scoring cities in sub-categories are:-

Renewable electricity sites – Plymouth (2,403 per 100,000 people)

Recycling rate – Cardiff (58.1%)

University sustainability – Luton (65.3 /100)

Charity shops – Brighton & Hove (44.2 per 100,000 people)


Meanwhile the notable cities that must do better are:-

1. Portsmouth - 2.66/10 sustainability score

  • Portsmouth has the lowest sustainability rating in the UK as it has the fifth lowest rate of recycling, and the fifth lowest university sustainability score. 

2. London - 2.73/10 sustainability score

  • London scores averagely across its university and recycling metrics, however the number of electricity sites and charity shops per 100,000 people are both the second lowest in the UK. 

3. Wolverhampton - 3.04/10 sustainability score

  • Like London, Wolverhampton scores averagely across the board, but its university rating is what really drags it down the rankings as it only scores 22.4/100 for this measure which is the second lowest rating in the UK.  



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