Speaking at the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource Management’s (ACR+) International Conference on Waste and Climate Change, Councillor Merrick Cockell said leadership on waste was vital.

He said he hoped the city’s Mayor would agree to chair the new London Waste and Recycling Board, which is expected to become operational this year.

Current Mayor Ken Livingstone had raised concerns about the lack of a strategic approach to waste in the capital, but decided not to become involved with the board as he does not believe it is the right solution.

Cllr Merrick said: “The only way of solving and improving the waste situation in London is by working together and I hope that soon, after May, whether it is Ken Livingstone or someone else, we can work together on that.”

The conference, hosted by London Remade, aimed to explore the link between waste and climate change, and the reductions in carbon emissions that can be achieved through waste management.

One of the key topics under discussion was the potential for reducing food waste.

Independent environmental consultant Dr Alan Knipe argued that household treatment of food waste could dramatically reduce carbon emissions, cost local authorities seven times less, and reduce injuries to waste collection staff.

Waste collection should also be re-examined to reduce its carbon footprint, argued Thuy Nguyen, from the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

Her study of emissions from waste collection trucks in one Canadian town found that 10-20% of fuel consumption was used by trucks idling during collections or queuing to dump waste at transfer stations.

The research also found that collections in rural areas could use double or even triple the amount of fuel used for urban areas.

Kate Martin

edie+ subscribers can listen to presentations by Dr Alan Knipe and Thuy Nguyen by following this link.

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