Thursday 24 September 2020

Greens call for London-wide recycling system to end postcode lottery on what is recycled

With life thrown into chaos over lockdown, and the craze for banana bread baking, Londoners are throwing away more food than the rest of the nation, as well as binning more plastic, warns Caroline Russell AM.

WRAP, an anti-waste charity, found that Londoners were more likely to have higher levels of food waste, with 43 per cent of us admitting to binning food during lockdown, compared with the national average of 27 per cent. 


Even worse was the picture of plastics, the Everyday Plastic project found households were averaging 128 bits of plastic waste in a week, up from 99 bits before the pandemic. 


Showing the rise in online shopping and food waste 25 per cent more food packaging, as well as parcel bags and PPE items were thrown away.

Earlier this year Caroline Russell found that no London Borough was able to recycle a list of seven common household items. 


In January Caroline asked all councils if they could recycle:

  • a broken plastic bucket
  • crisp packet
  • Tetra Pak container
  • Aluminium foil
  • black plastic food container
  • Biro pen 
  • and a bike tyre.

She found a lack of London-wide oversight means there is no consistency between boroughs, and residents are left confused as recycling rules vary from one borough to the next. 


Although most boroughs (29 out of 32) collect six dry recycling streams Caroline found that Havering was unable to recycle any item from the list and two London boroughs – Enfield and Kensington and Chelsea – were only able to recycle one of the items, Tetra Paks.


Caroline Russell says:

As this year’s theme for Recycle Week recognises, our key workers include the people who come to take away our waste and recycling every week under difficult circumstances and maintaining safe social distancing.


Londoners have not forgotten the impact of plastic waste but with the rise in plastic being binned it means that Government must take urgent action to address plastic pollution at its source.


My research from earlier this year found it’s just too hard to know what to do with your rubbish in London. You can recycle bike tyres in Bexley but not Brent, and Hackney recycles foil but Hammersmith doesn’t.


Londoners are deeply concerned about plastic pollution. The Mayor should be asking for the power to take control of London’s waste and sort out this rubbish postcode lottery.


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