According to London Councils – the body representing the capital’s 33 local authorities – picking up the cost of disposing of binned plastic bags and packaging is something waste authorities in the capital are no longer willing to bear.

London Councils says that voluntary deals aimed at producer responsibility don’t go far enough, and would like to see tougher regulatory measures put in place. The organisation is also concerned about the rise in the number of single-use plastic carrier bags handed out to shoppers, despite government pledges to tackle the issue.

It points out that its own push for a ban on free plastic bags led to a new 50% reduction target – double the previous target – between retailers and government in 2009.

London Councils’ transport & environment committee chair, Cllr Catherine West, said: “The vast majority of consumer packaging waste is collected by councils, but they get no financial assistance from producers and retailers.

“This waste is bad for business and bad for the environment. We must ensure that packaging can be recycled better with producers and retailers paying to support that.”

She added: “London Councils wants to work with businesses, retailers, government and others to find new ways to reduce packaging waste, and we will press the government for challenging new recycling and recovery targets.”

The UK produces around 11m tonnes of packaging waste a year, around half of which comes from the household waste stream. During 2010-11, London councils and waste authorities spent £566m on helping to deal with this waste.

London Councils’ report Costing a packet: minimising packaging waste is available here

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie