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News from Jenny Jones AM: Lambeth and Wandsworth’s recycling claims are a "cheat"

22 November 2012

Lambeth and Wandsworth’s recycling claims are a "cheat" says Jenny Jones

According to statistics published on Lambeth (1) and Wandsworth (2) council websites, they recycled 46 percent of their waste in 2011/12, representing a 19 and 18 per cent increase on the previous year, respectively.  This contrasts with Government figures published by DEFRA, which state that Lambeth recycled 28% and Wandsworth 28.5% of their boroughs' household waste for the 2011/12 period (3). The councils have recently started burning waste and they have added this to their recycling total, which explains the discrepancy.

Jenny Jones said:

“It is wholly unacceptable that Lambeth and Wandsworth Councils are cheating their recycling rates by including products derived from incineration, such as aggregates used for road surfaces. Councils must only publish official recycling figures. ”

“If this is allowed to continue, it will be a real blow to the councils around London that have gone to great effort and cost to boost their recycling rates. It also risks undermining genuine recycling and composting activity and encouraging the idea that it is okay to just burn it all.”

I urge the Mayor of London and the Government to condemn these boroughs and encourage legitimate recycling.” (4)


Editors Notes

Jenny is available for interview

1) Link to relevant page on Lambeth Councils website:

Text from website:

Lambeth recycling rate soars!  ‘Our recycling rate in Lambeth is now 46%! The big increase is due to our change in disposal from landfill to energy from waste.

Since August 2011 all black sack waste has been sent to the new energy from waste plant at Belvedere. The waste is burnt, generating the electricity needs for up to 100,000 homes, and around one-third of the waste leaves the plant as Incinerator Bottom Ash. This is a mixture of ash, metal, glass, brick and other items that won’t burn.

The ash is taken by barge to a specialist recycling facility at Tilbury docks where the metals are extracted for recycling. The remaining ash is then prepared for use as an aggregate and all of it is recycled, mainly as a sub-base for new roads. This means that out of all the waste collected by Lambeth, 46% is now being reused, recycled or composted.’

2) Link to relevant page on Wandsworth Councils website:

Text from website :

Recycling and waste: statistics and information

‘It is then taken to an energy-from-waste incinerator at Belvedere in the London borough of Bexley. This uses the heat from burning Wandsworth's residual waste to generate enough electricity for the National Grid to power over 13,000 homes. 

The ashes produced contain metals which are extracted for recycling.  The rest of the ashes along with pieces of glass, rubble, sand and stones are sorted and recycled as aggregates for use in construction projects such as road building and the Olympic Park.

In 2011/12, recycling of metals and aggregates from the incinerated ashes increased Wandsworth's recycling rate from 28.5% to 45.9%.  The ash that can't be recycled is equivalent to about three percent of the waste delivered to the plant and is buried in disused mine shafts in Cheshire. ‘

3) Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs – Local Authority Waste Management Statistics for England, Final Annual Results 2011/12, local authority data downloads 2011/12

4) Jenny Jones’s written question submitted for the 21st November 2012, Mayors Question Time:

Lambeth & Wandsworth Councils' definition of recycling
Question by Jenny Jones AM
According to statistics published on Lambeth and Wandsworth council websites, they recycled 46 percent of their waste in 2011-12, representing a 19 and 18 per cent increase on the previous year, respectively. The explanation offered for this dramatic improvement is the inclusion of products derived from waste sent to Belvedere Incinerator, such as aggregate for road construction that has been derived from incinerator bottom ash, along with pieces of brick, rubble and sand. Will you contact Lambeth and Wandsworth council to remind them of the definition of recycling and their duty to publish genuine recycling rates?