Turning London’s trash into cash

London’s growing waste

21 September 2017
  • In 2016, local authorities collected 3.7 million tonnes of waste – enough to fill more than 1,500 Olympic-size swimming pools[1].
  • Recycling rates have dropped back down to the levels seen in 2010.
  • In 30 years, local authorities will need to collect an extra one million tonnes of waste - equal to an additional 500,000 refuse trucks of rubbish each year[2]. This is not sustainable from an environmental or economic perspective.

The London Assembly Environment Committee publishes its report, ‘Waste: The Circular Economy’ [3]  today, which examines how a circular economy could offer a solution to the problem of an unsustainable waste management model - and strengthen London’s economy at a time of uncertainty.                                                                                                                          

The report found that by adopting a circular model for its waste, London could:

  • reduce 60 per cent of its waste by 2041
  • put London “on track” to become carbon-neutral
  • create 12,000 new jobs by 2030
  • provide £7 billion net benefit to London’s economy.

Environment Committee Chair, Leonie Cooper AM, said:

The way we deal with waste in London needs to change. Recycling rates have fallen, the population continues to grow, and landfill space is quickly running out.

We acknowledge the importance of the Route Map produced by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and we’re delighted to see importance given to the circular economy in the Mayor’s Draft Environment Strategy. Clearly we are in the early stages of change. This is further demonstrated by the growing popularity of innovative recycling websites and apps. The potential for new jobs is enormous.

Where we go from here, however, is crucial. The Mayor needs to take a visible lead in pushing the circular economy forward. This should start with ensuring that organisations in the GLA Group procure goods and services in line with its principles. The Mayor should set a whole-city vision which includes specific milestones towards growing the circular economy. Awareness also needs to be vastly improved among London’s businesses and an outreach programme led by the Mayor would address these issues.”

Notes to editors

  1. Local Authority Regional Spreadsheet, March 2016.
  2. Waste growth projection to 2050 extrapolated from DEFRA 2016 LA Waste Management data and GLA 2016-based population projections – long term trend. Model simplifies and assumes that population growth is the only factor in future waste requirements.
  3. Read the Committee’s report, Waste: The Circular Economy’
  4. This is the first of three reports as part of the Committee’s investigation into the capital’s waste management.
  5. Leonie Cooper AM, Environment Committee Chair, 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 officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

Share this page