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Feature: Opportunity knocks

They say that you can’t solve a problem by throwing money at it, but more often than not the opposite is true. As London’s battle against its ever-growing waste problem continues, grant funding to the tune of £1.65 million will soon help job creation, skills training and community partnerships to flourish in the capital as opportunities to link regeneration and economic development to waste and recycling are realised.

The London Recycling Fund, managed by London Waste Action, has recently signed a funding agreement with the London Development Agency (LDA) to provide funding for an economic development-infrastructure building programme (EDIB). The scheme was open to anyone from the private sector, the not-for-profit, community sector, London boroughs and waste authorities.

The programme is designed to encourage projects that support the development of sustainable enterprise within the reuse, processing and reprocessing sector in London. Grants will be available to aid the development of new waste infrastructure facilities that deal with one or more priority materials, which include: waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), end of life vehicles (ELV), plastics, glass, wood, mixed papers and construction and demolition waste.

By tapping into the training opportunities and land remediation possibilities that the recycling sector lends itself to, the nature of the funding can only meet the approval of those who say that, worthwhile as it is, recycling can hardly be classed as a priority in a city where the divide between rich and poor areas is becoming more pronounced.

The fund was announced in January with expressions of interest due last month, and a number of applicants have now been invited to make a full application. The London Recycling Fund was established in 2002 and since then has allocated more than £46 million to a range of recycling and waste minimisation projects. As a Fund partner, the LDA is committed to investing £1.65 million during 2005/06 into projects that support the development of sustainable enterprises. The scheme (round 12 of the London Recycling Fund) has been different to previous rounds as funding has come from the LDA and is available for private and community sector partnerships as well as local authorities.

Drawing on its experience in linking economic development and regeneration, London Remade will deliver a comprehensive support programme, helping potential project applicants and advising and assisting them on project development both pre- and post-application to maximise the potential of the bids and subsequently the overall effectiveness of the fund.

Kate Radford, improvement centre manager at London Remade, says it is critical that London’s infrastructure for the reuse, processing and reprocessing of waste continues to expand if the capital is to meet its targets. As part of the London Plan, Mayor Ken Livingstone has set targets for 75% (16 million tonnes) of London’s waste to be managed within London’s boundaries by 2010, 80% by 2015 and 85% by 2020.

“Each year every household in Greater London produces over a tonne of municipal waste, and it is vital that we recycle as many materials as possible,” says Radford. “In 2003/04, London recycled 13.2% of household waste, while the national average was 17.7%. This suggests that London still has a way to go.”

Although Londoners are recycling more of their waste, Radford says it is vital to continue to promote the creation of a recycling infrastructure

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