Market to become waste-free

London's Whitechapel Market is set to become the first market in the country to recycle 100% of all the waste it generates.

On Tuesday, Tower Hamlets Council launched the ambitious scheme, which aims to ensure that every last scrap of waste from fish heads to plastic bags is recycled.

It follows a successful three-month pilot scheme and council bosses say the scheme may now be rolled out to other markets in the borough.

“We have pulled out all the stops to make Whitechapel Market the first to recycle 100% of the waste it generates,” the council’s green chief, Councillor Abdal Ullah, said.”

The council has worked with market traders to develop the scheme, which requires every stallholder to be responsible for putting recyclables in their allocated recycling bins.

Mr Ullah added: “We are very pleased that they have fully supported what we are trying to do here.

“Markets by their very nature can create a lot of waste, when you take into account things like packaging and food products with a relatively short shelf life.

“We have introduced a number of new ways that all this can be recycled and we are very excited that none of the market waste will be sent to landfill.”

The recycling bins are locked overnight to prevent misuse by local businesses and residents.

Separate bins are provided for food waste, which are emptied twice daily to prevent contamination of other recycling materials – something which council chiefs admitted has proved a problem in the past. The waste will be turned into a soil improver

Recycling by numbers:

  • 10 – the number of street markets managed by Tower Hamlets Council. All could adopt the scheme
  • 9 – the number of tonnes of food waste now recycled per week from the market
  • 9.5 – the number of tonnes of mixed dry waste now recycled per week
  • 12.5 – the percentage of dry mixed waste previously recycled
  • 55 – the number of double decker buses whose combined weight equals the weight of recycling from the market each month
  • Kate Martin

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