London’s waste plan aims to shift towards cutting carbon

London's proposed waste strategy will shift the emphasis from recycling large amounts of waste to a targeted focus of the most easily recyclable materials.

And, as a result, reduce carbon emissions according to mayor Boris Johnson who today (October 18) hailed the strategy as a ‘world first’.

The detailed proposal forms part of the Mayor’s draft municipal waste strategy – London’s Wasted Resource – which is published today for consultation.

Recycling rates in London are currently the worst in the country, at a lowly 25%, and the plans aim to drive this up to 45% by 2015.

Mr Johnson hopes to do this by encouraging London boroughs to increase the recycling of plastics and metal as well as food and garden waste.

Currently local authority recycling rates, targets set by the mayor and London Assembly, are based on weight regardless of which type, or quality, of materials being recycled.

Under the new plans boroughs would be asked to focus on methods which reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to the collection, recycling and disposing of their rubbish.

For example Mr Johnson hopes the new standard will be met by increasing plastic recycling, which have high levels of carbon embodied in them, but are lighter in weight than other materials.

The mayor believes this approach could save London 1.6 million tonnes of carbon a year and, after maximising recycling, save £90 million off the city’s £4.4 billion electricity bill and £24 million off London’s £2.5 billion gas bill.

Mr Johnson, said: “My waste plans seek to maximise the economic value of London’s waste material whilst moving away from environmentally damaging methods to dispose of it.

“This will include funds for infrastructure to make recycling easier and to use waste to generate cleaner, more efficient energy.

“I also want to ensure our streets and town centres are rubbish free to improve quality of life especially as we gear up to welcome the world to London in 2012.”

However, chairman of the London Assembly’s Environment Committee and Green Party assembly member, Darren Johnson, believes the strategy has not gone far enough.

He said: “We are disappointed the mayor has not set a clear target date for when the boroughs should make provision for recycling food waste.

“London is the worst performing region in England for recycling and we believe the strategy allows boroughs too much flexibility, boroughs must have something to work towards.

“We would also like to see a stronger approach to making boroughs improve recycling rates and are concerned that the Mayor’s strategy only talks about supporting the high achievers, but not about how he will tackle the under-performers.”

Luke Walsh

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