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Chair of environment committee calls for target dates for food waste collections

The chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee has criticised Mayor Boris Johnson for not being pro-active enough in encouraging London boroughs to start food waste collections at the kerbside.

Speaking exclusively to MRW, Darren Johnson, who is a member of the Green Party, said he would like the mayor to set a date by which time all boroughs will have to start collecting food waste separately to get it out of the residual waste stream and divert it from landfill.

Johnson said: “The mayor needs to set a date for local authorities to start collecting food waste. [Former mayor] Ken Livingstone did the same thing when it came to London boroughs collecting dry recyclables, and that proved to be a key factor in driving up recycling rates. We need something similar for food waste.”

The mayor’s draft waste strategy, which is currently open for public consultation, includes no such plans for food waste collections.

Johnson continued: “The mayor argues that each borough has to do what suits them, but he has far too much of a laissez faire attitude on this. We don’t have time to wait.”

Johnson also revealed that he is disappointed that, as yet, no anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities have been built using funding from the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWaRB). He said that all food waste should be separated at source and then converted to green energy through AD. To do this, an estimated 18 new AD facilities would be needed in the capital by 2015.

Johnson said: “We have a lot of work to do to get to this level by then [2015]. The LWaRB business plan is clear on the need to invest in AD, but I would actually like to see that happening. It says it has four AD applications in its infrastructure pool, but we are still a long way off any actually starting to be built.”

In response, a spokesman for the mayor told MRW: “’The draft waste strategy proposes improved standards to encourage boroughs to significantly increase the collection and responsible management of waste materials which will have the highest impact on cutting city carbon emissions. In order to meet this standard, boroughs would need to have a much greater emphasis on food waste collection levels, enabling it to be used in a range of more environmentally friendly ways, such as to generate greener energy.

“This approach is results-focused and non-prescriptive to allow boroughs the freedom to decide what will work best for them at a local level to deliver the targets.”

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