Mayor of London targets 50 per cent cut in food waste in final Environment Strategy

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has presented the final draft of his London Environment Strategy to the London Assembly for consideration, with targets such as becoming a zero-carbon city and reducing the capital’s food waste by 50 per cent by 2030 among the proposals in the revised document.

The strategy, released on 11 May, sets out the Mayor’s plans to make London a greener, cleaner and healthier place by targeting London’s toxic air quality, increasing access to green spaces and making London a zero-carbon city by 2050 with energy efficient buildings, clean transport and energy and increasing recycling.

The original draft strategy was released on 11 August 2017, before being opened to a consultation that collected the views of nearly 3,000 Londoners and 370 stakeholders. The revised strategy document was presented to the London Assembly yesterday (21 May), with the outcome of a vote on the proposals still to be revealed.

There is a large emphasis on waste and resource management in the strategy, with headline aims including to become a zero waste city by 2050, to ensure that no biodegradable or recyclable waste is sent to landfill by 2026 and to achieve a municipal recycling rate of 65 per cent by 2030 – five percent higher than the target set by the EU’s Circular Economy Package for the same year.

Commenting on the release of the draft strategy, Khan said: “I’m delighted that so many Londoners have got involved and given their feedback on the future of London’s environment. In order to protect it for future generations, we must take tough action now – we have already done some fantastic work, but there is lots more to do, and we need all Londoners, and the government, to play their part.

“This strategy sets out my plans to clean up our filthy air with bold new air quality measures, tackle waste and promote cleaner energy so we can make London a healthier city that adapts to the impacts of climate change. We must also protect, improve and add to our outstanding green spaces as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City.

“By continuing to invest in our environment and work with boroughs and communities, we can improve the health and wellbeing of everyone living in London.”

Waste and resources

The Environment Strategy recognises waste and resources as a key area of intervention in City Hall’s pursuit of a greener capital. In light of the fact that London’s landfill capacity is expected to run out by 2026, and with the cost of dealing with the city’s waste currently running at around £2 billion a year, the strategy acknowledges that the city’s current 41 per cent municipal recycling rate and 33 per cent household recycling rate are insufficient and will need to be increased.

As the UK’s most populous city, London contributes more than its fair share to the nation’s waste totals – the capital currently produces between 1.5 million and 1.75 million tonnes of food waste a year, while Londoners buy around 1.2 billion single-use plastic bottles a year, only one third of which are recycled in the home, according to figures from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP),

London faces several barriers to increasing its recycling rates and reducing the total amount of waste generated, such as the fact that the capital is comprised of 33 different boroughs, all providing different waste services. 50 per cent of the population live in flats, making it difficult to collect waste from each household, while London’s population is transient and diverse, with 100 different languages spoken, adding a layer of difficulty to providing effective recycling communications. Moreover, there is no requirement for businesses to recycle, and in any case space is limited on many premises.

Despite these difficulties, Londoners generally want improved recycling services: 85 per cent of respondents to a survey as part of the strategy consultation expressing support for this. London is already looking at how to increase recycling and reduce waste generation, with the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) overseeing a £20.4-million fund covering 2017-2020 to increase recycling in the capital.

Targets and objectives for waste and recycling in the strategy include:

  • Achieving a 50 per cent reduction in food waste by 2030;
  • Significantly reducing single-use plastic and food waste, while encouraging greater reuse of materials, and increasing recycling where this is not possible;
  • Working with LWARB to implement its Circular Economy Route Map for London, which is estimated to able to contribute £2.8 billion of benefits to London’s economy annually by 2036;
  • Getting food and drink businesses to offer incentives to customers to encourage them to use reusable cups and water bottles;
  • Piloting tap water refill schemes across London and consulting on a potential London-wide rollout;
  • Trialing a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles in advance of its national implementation;
  • Phasing out single-use plastics across Greater London Authority premises, with the Mayor’s Responsible Procurement Policy used as best practice;
  • Calling for a fair share of the £2.5 billion earmarked by the government to support its Clean Growth Strategy and the devolution of London’s share of landfill tax receipts, estimated at £93 million a year;
  • Setting minimum eco-design standards for producers and increasing extended producer responsibility for packaging;
  • Moving to a carbon-based approach in measuring waste and recycling performance;
  • All properties to receive weekly food waste collection and minimum six main dry recycling materials;
  • Local authorities to provide recycling and waste reduction plans by 2020;
  • Ensuring all waste collection fleets produce zero net emissions by 2050;
  • Ensuring no additional Energy-from-Waste facilities are created and that existing plants manage only truly non-recyclable waste and maximise the use of heat and power generated; and
  • Ensuring 100 per cent of London’s municipal waste is to be managed in London by 2026.

You can view the final draft of the Mayor’s London Environment Strategy on the London Assembly website.

Related Articles