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Councils urged to boost tower block recycling

Environmental think tank Green Alliance has called on local authorities to improve recycling rates in estates and tower blocks amid concerns that thousands of households have nowhere to recycle their waste.

According to the think tank recycling rates in some high rise housing only reaches around 10%, compared to the national average of nearly 43%.

A new report on how green policies are being implemented in high-rise housing found that “many tower blocks suffer from poor or non-existent recycling and food waste collections”.

It said collection sites at the bottom of blocks were more common as they were cheaper than door-to-door collections, but that these produced lower recycling rates.

The London Waste and Recycling Board flats recycling programme has successfully boosted recycling rates in a number of London boroughs. In Hackney more than 11,000 tonnes of dry recycling has been collected from high rises since 2010, along with 654 tonnes of food waste.

The report called on councils to “tailor their approaches” to individual tower blocks and said the government should extend funding for flat recycling schemes outside the London area.

It also recommended housing providers set up partnerships with reuse organisations to explore using vacant flats and garages for recycling programmes.

Edward Hobson, Green Alliance deputy director, said: “Doing the green thing is difficult for individuals in tower blocks because often they do not have direct control over their heating, power and waste collection.

“But we should prioritise transforming this communal infrastructure as it offers real potential to engage communities and deliver significant improvements for everyone in the block.”

There are estimated to be around 390,000 flats in high rise blocks in England.

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