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Mixed messages ‘hampering’ councils’ recycling

Litter problem in London

Contrasting policies from Government departments have contributed to stagnating recycling rates in London, the city’s regional authority has said.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) also called for some proceeds from the Green Investment Bank’s impending privatisation to be redistributed to the London Waste and Recycling Board (Lwarb).

London’s recycling rates fell by 0.8 percentage points to 33.1% in 2014-15, far short of the UK average of just under 45%.

In its submission to the Environmental Audit Committee’s HM Treasury inquiry, the GLA said householders were confused about what and how to recycle, but said mayor Sadiq Khan had pledged to get the city back on track to 65% recycling by 2030.

“The Treasury has in part contributed to the stagnation of recycling performance in the capital through its fiscal policies on local authority spending cuts,” it reads. “These cuts make it almost impossible for London boroughs to introduce new services where this also increases costs.”

It said the effect of the cuts had been exacerbated by a lack coherent policies between Defra and the departments for communities and local government (DCLG), energy and climate change, and business.

“The UK recycling target has not been passed down directly to individual local authorities, making it very difficult for them to prioritise recycling over other key services when budgets are under significant pressure.

“While Defra advocates recycling and waste minimisation, the DCLG has been prioritising weekly residual collections.

“The GLA considers this has been a fundamental barrier to local authorities introducing fortnightly refuse collections, which evidence shows has the double dividend of reducing service delivery costs, thereby unlocking budgets to invest in new services and also increasing recycling rates.”

It suggests that some of the revenue from the GIB’s privatisation and the city’s share of landfill tax should be redistributed to the area, channelled through Lwarb.”Lwarb was very active in helping the Government to establish the GIB and it would seem appropriate to receive some financial recognition,” it said.

As reported by MRW, councils have been told that no new funding would be provided for resource minister Rory Stewart’s proposed harmonised collections rollout, which prompted disappointment from the GLA.



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