Despite a bold ambition to increase its recycling rate to 35% by 2020, Westminster has slipped down to second-bottom on the list. Its rate has struggled during the past seven years after peaking in 2010-11 at above 25%.
London’s recycling target overall is 50% by 2020. But, as with many other boroughs in the capital, Westminster faces particular challenges as it deals with around 180,000 tonnes of waste a year from households, businesses and street litter.
It collects far more street waste than average, accounting for around 10% of its overall waste.
There are a large number of flats, accounting for 89% of households, as well as high turnover of residents at 30% a year. Twenty per cent of households also have single waste chutes, which discourages recycling initiatives.
In July last year, the council awarded three contracts worth £71m to Veolia for household and business waste. The council has said it wants to introduce household food waste collection services “where cost-effective to do so”.
A Westminster council spokesperson told MRW that the street litter is classified within the household waste stream, leading to an impact on its recycling rate.
“The council also collects a large amount of commercial waste,” he added. “We have increased our municipal recycling rates as a result of introducing commercial dry mixed recycling collections and expanding commercial food waste services.
“We are on track to meet our recycling targets in future.
“The council has been undertaking trials in different wards to try to increase the amount of household waste that is recycled. Challenges remain, though. The many conservation areas in Westminster mean that implementing extensive waste management systems for recycling are often not possible in the way these are implemented elsewhere.”