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Candidates chase green vote in fight to be next London mayor

It is not everyday that politicians pledge to give back money to people for helping the environment but Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate for London mayor, has vowed just that and wants to pay Londoners to recycle more if he is elected on May 1. So what does Johnson exactly have in store for Londoners and what promises have the other mayoral candidates made?

In a new manifesto entitled A Cleaner Greener London published on March 27 Johnson sets out his plans to make recycling a hassle-free part of Londoners lives.
He said that if elected he would champion a new approach in the USA that pays people to recycle. A US company called RecycleBank gives every household in an area a bin, or a box for blocks of flats. The residents put all their recyclable waste in the bin, which is weighed when it is collected. The amount of waste recycled is recorded and credited to the households account.
The weight of material recycled by each household determines how much cash they get, which can be in the form of supermarket vouchers.

Johnson explained that the amount of money saved from diverting waste from landfill will be spilt between local authorities and the RecycleBank scheme. He said: RecycleBanks approach is successful because it rewards people for doing the right thing and recycling, rather than taxing them for producing rubbish as the Labour Government wants to do.
We are pleased that Conservative local authorities such as Windsor and Maidenhead, and Westminster, will be talking to RecycleBank to consider how paying the public to recycle might be implemented in the UK. If, as we hope, the scheme works as well as it does in the US, we will promote it to all London boroughs so that as many Londoners as possible can benefit from this approach.

He claimed that the scheme would be self-financing because in the US it has increased recycling by an average of more than 200%.
Johnson also pledged that if elected he would work with the London Waste and Recycling Board, which was rejected by Ken Livingstone after it was set up last year to help fund new infrastructure to manage commercial and industrial waste.

The Mayor does not control waste in the capital and if elected, Johnson will have to persuade councils to adopt the scheme.

Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Brian Paddick told MRW: Boris is pledging something that only the boroughs can and should deliver. And, in doing so, he is going against the long-held - and frankly wrong - Conservative line in London that the Mayor should not play a strategic role in waste management and recycling in the capital, so it is difficult to see how his own councillors would go along with it.

I will chair the London Waste and Recycling Board, which is something that Ken has refused to do and refused to fund. I will contribute £24 million from the GLA budget, as well as attracting investment from the private sector for necessary infrastructure, to lead work with the boroughs to explore innovative schemes to drive up recycling rates in the capital.

Paddick also said that he would introduce a green smartcard where points could be earned through environmentally-friendly activity, such as recycling, and can be redeemed to top-up your Oyster Card, so encouraging people to use public transport.

Not to be out done by his peers current mayor Ken Livingstone hit back at Johnsons plans and said that in attempt to win Londoners support Boris Johnson has recently tried to adopt a completely unconvincing green camouflage.

In his manifesto Greener and Cleaner, a reverse title to Johnsons manifesto, he vowed to continue to lobby the Government to create a London wide waste disposal authority accountable to the Mayor as the best means of delivering the changes that are needed in managing Londons waste.

Livingstone also highlighted his achievements to date and said that he had helped Londoners raise recycling levels, up from 6% to 21% since 2000 with an extra 1.1 million homes benefiting from door-step collection.

In addition, he said that he would continue to oppose any new incineration plants in London, in favour of clean gasification and other technologies to create renewable energy.
He added: We could provide heat up to a million London homes and save over a million tonnes of carbon emissions if we used clean, modern technologies to convert waste into energy rather than dumping or burning it.

Local authorities and members of the public wanting to know what shape Londons waste and recycling policy will take have only to wait for the results of the mayoral election on May 1.

Image: City Hall, London

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