Recycling bin

A circular economy – what is it?

09 December 2015

This meeting took place on 10 December 2015. Read the transcript here.

The old, linear ‘take-make-waste’ economy extracts materials from the environment, uses them once and dumps them in the environment again.  A circular economy takes as little as possible from the environment, uses and re-uses goods, and when they are worn out it uses the parts or materials again, minimising waste to be disposed of.

  • London produces 20 million tonnes of waste every year[1].
  • London’s household waste recycling rate has fallen to 33%, from 35% two years ago and against a Mayoral target for 2015 of 45%[2]
  • Currently, the capital is heavily dependent on imported materials to supply its high consumption of physical goods. 

The London Assembly Environment Committee will tomorrow continue its investigation into the environmental impacts of London’s population growth, exploring how London could adopt a circular economy.

What can the next Mayor do to encourage less waste and more recycling?  What about the boroughs and national government?

Should households and businesses do more to recycle and re-use?  What incentives could be established?

The guests are;

Clare Ollerenshaw – Circular Economy Manager, LWARB

Andrew Richmond – Policy and Strategy Manager (Energy & Waste), GLA

Mark Ash – Managing Director, East London Waste Authority

David Beadle – Managing Director, North London Waste Authority

Dustin Benton – Head of Energy and Resources, Green Alliance

Lucy Chamberlin – Head of Great Recovery programme, Royal Society of Arts and Manufactures

Samantha Heath – London Sustainability Exchange (for first 45 minutes – to be replaced by Gemma George)

Debbie Hitchen – Associate Director, Anthesis Group (incorporating Leading Resource Sustainability consultancy)

Rob Holdway – Director, Giraffe Innovation

Pyarali Jamal – Chief Operating Officer, London Re-use Ltd.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 10 December from 2.00pm in the Chamber at City Hall (The Queen’s Walk, London SE1).

Media and members of the public are invited to attend.  

The meeting can also be viewed via webcast.

Notes to editors

  1. Data from the Mayor’s Business Waste Strategy (see p25) and the Municipal Waste Strategy (see on p26)
  2. Local authority collected waste: annual results tables, Defra.
  3. Full list of topics for discussion:  principles and benefits of the circular economy,  reprocessing of used materials, directing used materials to reprocessing, using goods, upstream changes, recycling rates and trends. 
  4. Full Agenda papers.
  5. Darren Johnson AM, Chair of the Environment Committee is available for interview.  See contact details below.
  6. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.


For media enquiries, please contact Mary Dolan on 020 7983 4603.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.