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London boroughs bottom in new recycling league

A listing of council waste and recycling services by their environmental performance has revealed 19 London authorities are in the bottom 30%.

The Local Authority Recycling Carbon Index, published by research consultants Eunomia, ranked councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Each authority’s waste and recycling service was scored according to the ‘total carbon savings’ for kerbside collections, household waste recycling centres and bring sites compared to the number of residents in the area.

North Somerset was awarded the highest score and Tower Hamlets London Borough the lowest.

The report said textile recovery was ‘very important’ for high-scoring authorities. The figures revealed on average the best performers recovered three times the amount of textiles compared to poor performers.

Best performers also recovered twice the amount of metal, 80% more plastics and 50% more paper.

The lowest scoring councils also tended not to have separate food waste collections.

Eunomia director James Fulford said: “Generally councils have had to rely on a crude comparison of recycling rates to measure the performance of their services. By publishing the Recycling Carbon Index we hope that we will help authorities to better understand the carbon benefits that their services achieve.

“The report will also help waste managers to understand what they need to do if they want to improve the environmental performance of their own services.”

Eunomia said it would update the index on a regular basis and will in future include authorities’ total waste arisings to reflect “waste prevention performance”.

Fulford added this was an “important issue” as it inevitably affected the amount of waste authorities deal with.

“I don’t think people should be beating themselves up for being low in that list when they’ve got low waste arisings,” he said.

“If you’ve got less waste and no garden waste being produced then there’s less to recycle. All we’ve looked at is the carbon benefit of each kind of material. If an authority has less waste in total, the impact of its overall waste is lower.”

Eunomia based their calculations on Zero Waste Scotland’s ‘carbon metric’ to convert recycling tonnages into the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. Scotland has its own environmental reporting regime which Eunomia said was not compatable with the report.

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