London business told to find more time for waste

Businesses from around the capital were urged to do more to reduce their waste - and told how to avoid legal pitfalls - at a workshop in the city on Tuesday.

Hugh Smith, business support programme manager for Enhance, set up to help grow business in the green sector, highlighted the problems facing the city and why it made good business sense to tackle them.

He said individuals in the UK had over twice the global average ecological footprint, and Londoners had a footprint bigger than most Britons.

“We’re not doing ourselves very proud and waste is quite a big percentage of that ecological footprint,” said Mr Smith.

London produces around 17 million tonnes of waste each year, he said, with a quarter of that made up of household waste. A further 36% came from construction and demolition with the remaining 38% coming from other commercial and industrial sources.

“There are two problems,” he said.

“First, London’s got nowhere to put it. Nearly all of London’s waste goes outside the city to locations across the south of England.

“There are two incinerators in London and one landfill, but that is going to close very soon.

“There are some significant problems in London that have got to be dealt with and the surrounding counties have their own problems with waste and are increasingly reluctant to take London’s.

“The mayor has set tough targets for the city to be self sufficient for 85% of its waste by 2020. That’s a huge amount of material – probably about three times what we are processing now.

“It’s a big challenge but it’s also a big opportunity.”

Helping companies improve their green credentials creates jobs, creates training opportunities, creates business growth and also helps with landfill diversion, he said.

With legal drivers coming from all tiers of government – from regional and national levels as well as from Brussels, it is vital that companies understand their obligations and are in a position to make the most of changes, by looking at material use throughout their operations.

This includes procurement – and buying sustainable products with a higher content of recycled material where possible – to the other end of operations – reducing waste produced and diverting that which is unavoidable away from landfill where possible.

Enhance can provide London businesses with the knowledge, and In some cases even funding, to help do this.

For more information, see the Enhance website at

Sam Bond

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