Caroline Russell by Chris King Photography

News from Caroline Russell: Londoners thrown by recycling rules

16 January 2020

Londoners thrown by recycling rules

What would you do with a broken bucket, or a pile of empty crisp wrappers? Would you expect your council to recycle them? Or would you expect to have to travel across London to the nearest recycling facilities?

New research from Caroline Russell AM found that no London Borough was able to consistently recycle a list of seven common household items.

Caroline asked all London boroughs if they could recycle a selection of common household items: 

  • a broken plastic bucket
  • crisp packet
  • Tetra Pak container
  • Aluminium foil
  • black plastic food container
  • Biro pen 
  • and a bike tyre.[1] 

She found a lack of London-wide oversight means there is no consistency between boroughs, and residents are left confused as recycling rules vary from one borough to the next. 

Although most boroughs (29 out of 32) collect six dry recycling streams [2] Caroline found that Havering was unable to recycle any item from the list. 

Two London boroughs – Enfield and Kensington and Chelsea – were only able to recycle one of the items, Tetra Paks.

Barnet, Bexley, Kingston upon Thames and Waltham Forest topped the list as they were able recycle five out of the seven items, but no borough currently recycles crisp packets or old biro pens.

People living in some London boroughs would have to leave their borough to recycle the five items. For example, residents of Kensington and Chelsea would have to use the recycling facilities of up to three boroughs.

Caroline Russell says:

We know people are desperately concerned about their impact on our environment, from the new awareness around single-use plastics to fast fashion. 

But it is too hard to know what to do with your rubbish in London. Especially for people who move around and between boroughs, it becomes impossible to know what to do. You can recycle bike tyres in Bexley but not Brent, and Hackney recycles foil but Hammersmith doesn’t.

When boroughs provide no clarity on what can be recycled, where, and in what condition, it is no wonder that London’s waste mountain keeps growing. 

The Mayor should be asking for the power to take control of London’s waste and sort out this rubbish postcode lottery.

Notes to editors

Caroline is available for interview. 

[1] Number of London boroughs who recycle each item*
Broken plastic bucket – 12 Boroughs 
Crisp packet – 0 Boroughs
Tetra Pak – 26 Boroughs
Aluminium foil – 27 Boroughs (if clean)
Black plastic food container – 17 Boroughs
Biro pen - 0 Boroughs (if whole and not working)
Bike tyre – 13 Boroughs recycle whole or part

WHAT DOES YOUR BOROUGH RECYCLE?

 

 

plastic bucket

 

 

 

crisp packet

 

 

 

Tetra Pak

 

 

 

Aluminium foil

 

 

 

black plastic food container

 

 

biro pen

 

 

 

bike tyre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barking and Dagenham

×

×

×

×

×

2

Barnet

×

×

5

Bexley

×

×

5

Brent

×

×

×

×

×

2

Bromley

×

×

×

×

3

Camden

×

×

×

×

3

City of London

×

×

×

×

×

2

Croydon

×

×

×

4

Ealing

×

×

×

×

3

Enfield

×

×

×

×

×

×

1

Greenwich

×

×

×

×

3

Hackney

×

×

×

4

Hammersmith and Fulham

×

×

×

×

×

2

Haringey

×

×

×

×

3

Harrow

×

×

×

×

3

Havering

×

×

×

×

×

×

×

0

Hillingdon

×

×

×

×

3

Hounslow

×

×

×

×

×

2

Islington

×

×

×

×

×

2

Kensington and Chelsea

×

×

×

×

×

×

1

Kingston upon Thames

×

×

5

Lambeth

×

×

×

×

3

Lewisham

×

×

×

×

3

Merton

×

×

×

×

×

2

Newham**

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Redbridge

×

×

×

4

Richmond upon Thames

×

×

×

×

3

Southwark

×

×

×

×

×

2

Sutton

×

×

×

4

Tower Hamlets

×

×

×

×

3

Waltham Forest

×

×

5

Wandsworth

×

×

×

4

Westminster

×

×

×

4

Total

12

0

26

27

17

0

13

 

 

* Data for Barnet, Brent, Croydon, Enfield, harrow, Hillingdon, Merton, Newham, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth was obtained from the borough’s website.

**We were unable to find information on Newham’s recycling policy, they did not respond to our request for information.

***Although a number of boroughs told us items could be take to a reuse or recycling centre they did not offer kerbside collection

 

 

[2] Wasting London’s Future, London Assembly Environment Committee, Mar 2018 https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/wasting_londons_future.pdf

 

[3] London Environment Strategy, Mayor of London, May 2018 https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/london-environment-strategy

 

[4] ENV18 - Local authority collected waste: annual results tables, published on 28 November 2019

 

Household Recycling Rate for London

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

33.0%

33.1%

33.4%

 

Table 3a, Local authority collected waste generation from April 2000 to March 2019 (England and regions) and local authority data April 2017 to March 2019.xls

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/env18-local-authority-collected-waste-annual-results-tables

 

 

Household recycling rate

2017/18

2018/19

% change

Croydon

37.90%

47.30%

9.40%

Lewisham

21.80%

28.00%

6.20%

Ealing

48.80%

52.60%

3.80%

Westminster

18.80%

21.70%

2.90%

Newham

14.10%

16.90%

2.80%

Bexley

52.10%

54.10%

2.00%

Hounslow

29.80%

31.40%

1.60%

Merton

37.00%

38.50%

1.50%

Kingston upon Thames

48.30%

49.40%

1.10%

Wandsworth

22.10%

23.20%

1.10%

Redbridge

23.90%

24.90%

1.00%

Camden

30.30%

31.10%

0.80%

Kensington and Chelsea

26.20%

27.00%

0.80%

City of London

29.20%

29.90%

0.70%

Richmond upon Thames

41.90%

42.50%

0.60%

Hackney

27.40%

27.90%

0.50%

Southwark

34.70%

35.20%

0.50%

Havering

37.00%

37.40%

0.40%

Lambeth

29.80%

30.10%

0.30%

Brent

36.50%

36.60%

0.10%

Bromley

50.00%

50.10%

0.10%

Hammersmith and Fulham

23.70%

23.80%

0.10%

Islington

29.50%

29.00%

-0.50%

Harrow

41.00%

40.20%

-0.80%

Sutton

50.00%

49.10%

-0.90%

Waltham Forest

32.50%

31.60%

-0.90%

Barking and Dagenham

25.00%

23.70%

-1.30%

Greenwich

35.10%

33.40%

-1.70%

Barnet

36.90%

34.60%

-2.30%

Enfield

35.90%

33.40%

-2.50%

Tower Hamlets

26.40%

23.20%

-3.20%

Hillingdon

40.00%

36.70%

-3.30%

Haringey

32.90%

29.30%

-3.60%

 

[5] Local Authority collected waste generation from April 2000 to March 2019 (England and regions): 

ENV18 - Local authority collected waste: annual results tables, published on 28 November 2019

 

Local Authority collected waste sent to Incineration with EfW

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

52.9%

55.6%

58.3%

 

Table 2a, Local authority collected waste generation from April 2000 to March 2019 (England and regions) and local authority data April 2017 to March 2019.xls

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/env18-local-authority-collected-waste-annual-results-tables

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