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Business focus for councils in London waste strategy

200 london skyline

Local authorities in London are being encouraged to develop their commercial activities to help the capital achieve an overall municipal recycling rate of 65% by 2030.

Policies, including no biodegradable or recyclable waste sent to landfill by 2026 and more comprehensive food waste collections, are set out for consultation in a London Environment Strategy published by mayor Sadiq Khan.

The introduction to the overall 400-page report says: “London needs to reduce, reuse and recycle more, to see waste as the valuable resource that it is and to reduce London’s increasing waste bill as the city grows.”

The waste section adds that “landfill and incineration are undesirable, costly and an inefficient use of resources”.

The report quotes two key metrics – local authority collected waste (LACW), which is currently at a below-par 32%, and a broader municipal rate that encompasses household or similar business waste regardless of who collects or disposes of it. The report puts that at 52% at present, and it is this figure which would reach 65% by 2030.

Councils also face a new deadline of 2025 to hit a 50% LACW recycling rate. The original target was 50% by 2020, but this has been put back. Modelling by WRAP has shown it is only feasible to move the household rate from 32% to 42-43% by 2022. 

The report said: “The remaining gap to achieve 50% LACW recycling target [by 2025] can be met by waste authorities developing or boosting their business and other non-household waste collection services.”

In a bid to help authorities improve their own commercial operations, the London Waste and Recycling Board (Lwarb) has created London Business Waste and Recycling (LBWR) to secure additional business contracts and help boost municipal rates in London boroughs, which would share in the profits. LWBR is currently operating in one borough and three more are discussing partnerships.

Several challenges to boosting the target are identified:

  • London has 33 waste authorities providing different waste and recycling collection services
  • 50% of the population live in flats
  • A transient and diverse population with more than 100 languages spoken
  • Fewer gardens in London producing less green waste for composting compared with other regions
  • No requirement on businesses to recycle

The reports adds that, to achieve the targets, waste authorities should ensure all properties with kerbside recycling have a separate weekly food waste collection and that a minimum of six dry recycling materials (glass, cans, paper, card, plastic bottles and mixed plastics [tubs, pots and trays]) are collected.

On energy from waste (EfW), the report notes that incineration of London’s local authority collected waste has doubled from 900,000 tonnes in 2011 to 1.8 million tonnes in 2016, producing around 560,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions.

“London now has the second highest incineration rate across the UK, behind the north-east at 50%. Modelling suggests London will have sufficient incineration capacity to manage its non-recyclable municipal waste once the new Edmonton and Beddington Lane facilities are operational.

”All London’s incinerators are expected to be ready for heat off-take by 2025. Any new EfW facilities will need to operate in combined heat and power mode.”


sadiq khan children

sadiq khan children

As mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is required under the GLA Act to produce a municipal waste management strategy, but it will be the collection and disposal authorities, businesses and the commercial waste industry that will implement the resulting policies.

Questions asked in the consultation on waste are:

  • Do you agree that the mayor’s policies and proposals will effectively help Londoners and businesses to recycle more?
  • Do you support the mayor’s ambition to ensure food waste and the six main recyclable materials (glass, cans, paper, card, plastic bottles and mixed plastics) are collected consistently across London?
  • Do you think the mayor should set borough-specific household waste recycling targets?
  • What needs to happen to tackle poor recycling performance in flats?
  • What are the most effective measures to reduce single-use packaging in London such as water bottles and coffee cups?

Responses are being sought until 17 November and a survey forms part of the consultation.

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