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Cooper attacks London Mayor over recycling rate

By 22/12/2017News

London household recycling rates must increase by almost a third by 2030 if the Mayor’s overall recycling target is to be met, according to a report published by the London Assembly Environment Committee.

In order to do this, the environment committee today (21 December) called for increased consistency of recycling systems across London and measures to get those who live in flats to recycle more.

The Mayor has set a headline target of 65 per cent of London’s waste to be recycled by 2030, which the Assembly said was set out in the EU Waste Framework Directive. (Since preparation of the report softer European targets have emerged from Brussels).

The Committee documents notes that household recycling in London has remained around the 1,000 tonne mark in London since 2011. And, it reports that the latest 2017 figures show London households recycle approximately 100,000 tonnes, which is around 33 per cent; the same level as six years ago.


Leonie Cooper, chair of the environment committee, who is a Labour and Co-operative Party assembly member representing Merton and Wandsworth, said:  “The recycling rates in London are laughable when compared to other major European cities, so we must take the issue more seriously.

Leonie Cooper criticised London’s recycling rate.

“With a rising population, scarce landfill space and more and more flats being built, time is running out to get a grip on this issue. Londoners need to be able to recycle more. It’s a win: win situation for the environment and for the tax payer. As the cost of sending waste to landfill increases, it’s the taxpayer who will end up footing the bill if recycling rates don’t improve.

“The Mayor needs to take a real lead in increasing London’s recycling rates and efforts should be concentrated on getting more flats to increase their recycling levels.”

The Environment Committee explained that in order to achieve the target, the average London household recycling rate must increase to 42%, currently only six boroughs meet this target. (See league tables).

This would mean each household increasing its recycling levels by an extra 57kg, the equivalent of 4,000 aluminium cans.

The committee set out some of the measures which it “broadly supports”, including increasing the number of homes that receive a separate food waste collection service and ensuring that all kerbside serviced properties receive a collection of the six main dry recycling materials.

Also, waste authorities are expected to notify the Mayor when tendering for waste contracts in order to give the Mayor a clear opportunity to influence and ensure that the final waste contract is in general conformity with the Environment Strategy.


A major part of the findings show that improvement is needed in flats. Statistics show that 50% of London’s current housing stock is flats and the recycling rates in flats will need to improve by 40 percent if the Mayor’s targets are to be met.

The findings highlighted a correlation between the percentage of flats per borough and low recycling rates.

“Councils have found it difficult to get residents to separate waste where they do not have space for multiple bins in the home or on the doorstep,” it read.

It added: “Bearing in mind that food waste makes up nearly 20 per cent of London’s total waste, it is crucial that all boroughs collect this from flats. Yet fewer than half of boroughs offer a separate food waste service for flats.”

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that a flat recycling service yields 50 per cent less recycling than average low-rise properties, the report says.

And, it cites other capital cities, such as Milan, saying that municipal recycling there increased dramatically by introducing food waste collections to all properties, including flats.

The Environment Committee referred to statistics which state that almost a third of Londoners have moved in the last year, claiming that it is unfair to expect people to learn a different recycling system each time they move.

Calls were also made to collect waste less frequently, as this “nudged” people towards recycling as well as introducing a fine system to reduce contamination.

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Source: General