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Wick recycling comes out top

By Jean Gunn

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The Household Waste Recycling Centre in Wick. Picture: DGS
The Household Waste Recycling Centre in Wick. Picture: DGS

Wick has been revealed to have the most waste-conscious residents in Scotland, according to a new study conducted by the Hairpin Leg Company. The study, which looked into where the most waste-conscious places and their residents were around the UK, also positions the town second overall in its ranking, below Bristol.

A spokesperson from the design company said: "We were initially surprised by the data and the fact that Wick ranked so highly in terms of eco-conscious searches in comparison to the rest of Scotland and the UK.

"The narrative tends to be that it's major cities – like Edinburgh, Glasgow and London for instance – that are more progressive when it comes to sustainable living, but these findings really contradicted that.

"One factor which may play into this is the town hosting the Wick recycling centre – this may mean that the town's residents are more prone to having sustainable living at the forefront of their minds than in other locations."

The research uses Google search data to find where the most eco-conscious people live around the UK, and ranks each location cities based on the total number of searches for a list of eco-conscious phrases. Searches analysed include "recycling", "upcycling" and "how to reduce waste".

The study was conducted by upcycling enthusiasts at the Hairpin Leg Company as a way of finding out where waste-conscious living was the most popular and where the most eco-conscious people lived in the lead up to Earth month.

The top UK position went to Bristol with 246 points, with Wick next on 139 and Swindon in third on 114, while Portsmouth and Brighton each had 100. In at number six was Leeds on 91 points, with Halesowen on 90 and Bournemouth on 88. Surprisingly London just managed ninth place with a score of 80 and Birmingham was tenth with 78.

Wick recycling centre. Picture: DGS
Wick recycling centre. Picture: DGS

Wick was the only Scottish town to appear in the top 17 eco-conscious places. Those who conducted the study were surprised by its findings.

“It was much more of a mixed bag than we envisaged," they said. “We expected London to be much higher than it was, for example: the narrative tends to be that it’s especially progressive and therefore has more waste-conscious people living there.

“But actually it seems to be a lot more nuanced than that. The results were a real mixed bag, with the most eco-conscious searches showing up in beach towns like Brighton and Portsmouth, Scottish Highland towns like Wick and industrial northern cities like Leeds and Sheffield.”

Their method analysed Google search data, looking at the volume of eco-conscious search terms in different areas of the UK. It then collated this information and created a score system using Google Trends data, which took the top 10 locations for each search term and created a ranking based on this.

The highest scoring locations were those which had the highest search volumes across all of the search terms that were analysed.

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