London unveils £50m circular economy business plan

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) has this week set out a £50m business plan to help reinvigorate recycling efforts and accelerate the development of the circular economy across the capital.

LWARB is a partnership between the Mayor of London and London Boroughs dedicated to improving waste and resource management within the capital.

The organisation’s new plan, put together under new chair Liz Goodwin, outlines a three-year programme which LWARB hopes will kick-start the Mayor of London’s ambitious challenge to put London on track to be a zero-carbon city by 2050.

The business plan involves a range of schemes including a £3m circular economy accelerator project, a £14m circular economy venture capital fund, and a £1.5m investment into a larger circular economy business development capital fund.

The plan was approved at the group’s first Board meeting under Goodwin on Tuesday (14 March). Goodwin said: “I am determined that LWARB will continue to make a significant contribution to help London be a global leader in sustainable resource management.

“This business plan describes the way in which LWARB will support delivery against some challenging objectives through its pioneering programmes of work. We know that the plan and LWARB will need to be flexible and adapt as the Mayor’s policies develop, but the need for action is such that we have decided to publish this plan now.”

Dynamic plan

To help realise a 2030 recycling rate of 65% across London’s residents and businesses, a “flats taskforce” will be introduced with a specific aim of driving up the recycling performance of Londoners living in blocks of flats. LWARB will contribute £1m to the taskforce and will be looking for partners to contribute additional income before the programme starts this summer.

Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues said: “This dynamic business plan will help accelerate local recycling rates, boost green businesses and cut waste across London. We need to make reducing waste easier and I’m really pleased LWARB will be investigating new ways to help the thousands of Londoners living in flats gain better access to recycling facilities.

“It is really important to support the rapid growth of re-use, regenerate the ‘circular’ economy and help new businesses succeed in this exciting sector.”

Circular capital

LWARB recently launched Advance London, a new business support programme created to enable SMEs in the capital to adopt and scale up circular business models. The project was unveiled in the same week that research discovered that only four London boroughs out of the 32 are above the national domestic recycling average of 44.9%.

An improved circular economy model in London is estimated to have the potential to create 40,000 new jobs by 2030 as well as lowering unemployment and providing financial incentives.

London is set to follow in the footsteps of other UK devolved authorities which have already latched on to the benefits of resource efficiency; the Welsh Government last week unveiled a £6.5m fund to help SMEs make the transformation towards a circular economy, following on from a similar initiative launched by the Scottish Government last year.

On a continental level, the European Parliament yesterday (14 March) voted to restore recycling and landfill targets that had been lowered by the European Commission in its re-tabled Circular Economy Package.

George Ogleby

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