London needs to tackle household recycling rate below the national average says new report

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A report published by the London Assembly Environmental Committee has said that London’s household recycling rate is below the UK average, and is urging London Mayor Sadiq Khan to take action. 

The report, entitled ‘Wasting London’s Future’ examined the city’s potential for a circular economy, its household recycling record and the use of energy from waste.  

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Results from the study found that opportunities to reduce waste by recovering and re-using materials are not being taken, and that its household recycling rates are below the nation average. 

It also found: 

  • People in London want to recycle, but recycling lacks consistency across different areas  
  • London’s recycling system is not made for its purpose 
  • Segregating food waste would help with the production of green gas, helping it meet its energy needs 
  • London burns over half its waste for energy, generating carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution. 

Within the report, the Committee provided some suggestions on how these problems can be solved, and has called on the Mayor of London to explore funding options on how to create a consistent recycling service across London. 

Other recommendations provided for the Mayor include: 

  •  Watching borough recycling rates, and if targets are not met, step in when contracts are up for renewal
  • Lobby the Government to make it easier for local authorities to fine recycling offenders who fail to comply with recycling regulations
  • Promote the circular economy and lobby the Government to press manufacturers to decrease plastic waste.  

The Committee also asked the Mayor to set targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste being sent to landfill and incineration by 2026. 

Following this, the Mayor has pledged to increase London’s recycling rates from 33% to 42% and send zero biodegradable or recyclable waste to landfill by 2030.   

Environment Committee Chair Leonie Cooper AM said: “London has a waste management problem. But with increased public awareness on waste and recycling, the Mayor now needs to drive forward to make sure London does not remain a city of wasted opportunities.” 

The recommendations from the Committee has been welcomed by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) who said that these suggestions “should be taken seriously by the mayor, particularly on waste prevention and recycling”, but that the Committee is sending mixed messages on the role of Energy from Waste (EfW).  

ESA executive director Jacob Hayler said: “On the one hand it states it has benefits, but with the other it points to the environmental and financial costs. These costs however are significantly less that those associated with landfill, which is the alternative for non-recyclable waste. Moreover, the report fails to put EfW emissions into context.” 

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