Waste and performance

Wasting London's Future

Date published: 
21 March 2018

Key facts

  • the average London household recycling rate must increase by almost a third by 2030, if the Mayor’s overall recycling target it to be met. For individual households, this means increasing recycling by almost 60kg per year
  • in 30 years, local authorities could be collecting an extra one million tonnes of waste - equal to an additional 500,000 refuse trucks of rubbish each year. This is not sustainable from an environmental or economic perspective
  • nearly 2m tonnes of waste were sent to incinerators or Energy from Waste facilities last year - more than doubling in the last decade

Our findings

  • opportunities to reduce waste by recovering and re-using valuable materials are being missed
  • London’s recycling rate is rubbish – household recycling rates are below the national average and have barely increased over the past 5 years
  • Londoners want to recycle and authorities should make it easy for them. Recycling lacks consistency across the different boroughs and some flats have no home recycling facilities whatsoever
  • London’s recycling service is not fit for purpose and cities like Milan put London’s recycling rates to shame
  • separating food waste would help with the production of green gas, helping London meet its energy needs
  • London burns over half its waste for energy. Although this reduces reliance on landfill and produces energy and heat, burning wastes valuable resources, generates carbon dioxide emissions and contributes to air pollution


The Mayor should:

  • keep a close eye on borough recycling rates and, if targets are not met, he should step in when contracts are up for renewal
  • explore funding options to implement a consistent recycling service across London including flats
  • lobby the Government to make it easier for local authorities to fine serial recycling offenders who fail to comply with recycling regulations
  • set targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill and incineration by 2026
  • promote the circular economy and lobby the Government to press manufacturers to reduce plastic waste and to include better signage on products

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