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Waste industry blamed for lack of Olympic waste infrastructure initiatives

The waste industry has failed to come up with a “credible” scheme to meet the commitment to make the Olympics a catalyst for new waste management infrastructure in East London.

Olympic sustainability watchdog the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 annual review Raising the bar: Can London 2012 set new standards for sustainability? states the target was “always expected to be challenging”. However, due to difficulties in managing waste in London coupled with the waste industry’s lack of initiatives, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games may have to transport waste out of London for “suitable processing”. 

The commission’s chair Shaun McCarthy said in the report that this waste problem was a main concern.

Furthermore, a recommendation made in the last annual review to ensure the Olympic park delivers zero carbon heat and very low carbon energy preferably by 2012 or 2016 at the latest, will not be met in time for the Games. The report says the reason for this is a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities and again blames the waste industry for an “inadequate response … leading to delays in developing and securing funding for projects through the London Waste and Recycling Board”.

The commission was also concerned that as the Olympic games approaches, the focus on recovery and reuse of some of the infrastructure as it is deconstructed after the Games could be lost, leading to greater use of landfill. It recommended that incentives “to deliver a financial, environmental and social benefit from unwanted materials” would be need to achieve this aim.

However, the commission congratulated the Olympic Delivery Authority for its work in construction waste management, exceeding its 90% target for reuse and recycling this waste. It was also impressed in general with the waste projects being carried out, such as the Biossence gasification plant. The facility will generate 20MW of electricity and 10MW of heat and it will be the first of its kind in London and the biggest in the UK.

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