News from Caroline Russell: Will it take 169 years to reach Mayor’s household recycling target?

14 December 2018

New data released by DEFRA shows that the average household recycling rate for London in 2017/18 is 33.1%, an increase of just 0.1% since the previous year (1). The Mayor has a target for 50% of household waste to be recycled by 2030 (2) and based on this annual rate of increase, it will take 169 years to achieve the Mayor’s household recycling target across London. 
In 2017/18 London’s local authorities sent 55.6% of the waste they collected to incineration with Energy-from-Waste (EfW), an increase of almost 3% on the previous year. (3). 
Caroline Russell AM has made the case that there is already too much incinerator capacity in London. That it is depressing recycling rates, causing local pollution, undermining the circular economy and efforts to tackle climate change. Caroline recently objected to Cory’s proposal for a second energy-from-waste incinerator in Belvedere, which will be able to burn 655,000 tonnes of waste a year (4).
Western Riverside Waste Authority boroughs (Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea) provide an example of how household recycling rates dropped after they started to use the Belvedere energy-from-waste incinerator in 2012.  And this latest data shows that they are still significantly below the London average recycling rate (5) (6).
Caroline Russell says:

As London burns record levels of household refuse in energy-from-waste incinerators, it’s worrying that London is only managing to recycle a third of its household waste, when the Mayor’s target is 50 per cent and his Environment Strategy says that that over 70 per cent of it could be recycled.

We shouldn’t have to wait 169 years to meet recycling targets. 

Where London boroughs and waste authorities are clearly making no effort to meet his targets, the Mayor needs to use his powers of direction to get them back on track.

Notes to editors

[1] ENV18 - Local authority collected waste: annual results tables, published on 11 December 2018


Household Recycling Rate for London






Table 3a, Local authority collected waste generation from April 2000 to March 2018 (England and regions) and local authority data April 2017 to March 2018.xls


[2]Mayor’s environment strategy, page 309 ‘The Mayor’s ambition is to achieve 50 per

cent household waste recycling by 2030’. 

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