Waste avoidance must be promoted in London’s Environment Strategy, says LWARB

The Mayor’s draft Environment Strategy for London must put more emphasis on waste avoidance and reducing single-use packaging, according to the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB).

In an otherwise positive response to Mayor London Sadiq Khan’s draft Environment Strategy for London, released on 11 August and compiled in conjunction with the Greater London Assembly (GLA), LWARB made the recommendations yesterday (5 October) as part of the period of consultation on the draft strategy, which runs until 17 November.

Waste avoidance must be promoted in London’s Environment Strategy, says LWARBThe Mayor’s draft strategy identifies air quality, green infrastructure, climate change mitigation and energy, waste, climate change adaption and ambient noise as key policy areas that need addressing in order to achieve the overarching strategic objectives that include achieving a low-carbon circular economy.

The response from LWARB, which works to bring together London’s waste stakeholders to reduce the capital’s waste and increase reuse and recycling, is enthusiastic towards the draft strategy, stating that it ‘fully supports’ the inclusion of waste as a key environmental issue in the strategy. It also expresses support for the recognition that the resources consumed in the capital will be less readily available in the future and for the inclusion of a low-carbon circular economy as one of four strategic approaches to tackling London’s environmental challenges.

All about waste

The Mayor’s draft strategy is notable for dedicating a significant chunk of the report to waste and resource use, a timely inclusion given that only around half of the seven million tonnes of waste produced annually in London and current landfill capacity is expected to run out by 2026.

LWARB stated in its response that it is ‘pleased’ that the draft strategy identifies the low-carbon circular economy as crucial to allowing the capital’s businesses to remain competitive in the global marketplace and to become more ‘resilient’ and ‘resource efficient’.

However, in its response, the organisation, which will be responsible for financially and operationally supporting the strategy, made specific comments on a number of waste policies:

  • While LWARB acknowledges the strong drive within the strategy towards dealing with the end of useful life of resources and improving recycling, its response suggests that the draft strategy could emphasise the way that a circular approach can prevent waste being created through interventions in design, new technologies, sharing resources and exchanging products and goods between organisations;

  • LWARB supports the Mayor’s ambition to cut the use of single-use packaging like single-use cups and plastic bottles, but believes that the scope should be widened to include all single-use plastic packaging and coffee cups, while widening access to tap water in public places to encourage the use of refillable beverage containers;

  • LWARB suggests including a reference to its circular economy route map for London within the text;

  • LWARB supports initiatives to reduce the climate change impact of waste activities, but would also support the inclusion of a priority to investigate the contribution of waste avoidance measures to reducing CO2 emissions; and

  • The response expresses support for the need to safeguard waste facilities in London as well as the introduction of adequate infrastructure to support circular economy outcomes, through optimising existing waste sites and creating space for SMEs to trial circular innovations.

Going circular

LWARB also made significant reference to the low-carbon circular economy in its response, declaring it crucial to keeping London’s businesses remain competitive and resilient, while imploring the Mayor to provide further context so that readers can understand how the circular economy contributes to climate change mitigation and increases resilience.

The group states that a circular economy could provide London with net benefits of at least £7 billion a year as well as 40,000 new jobs, and asks that the strategy include an acknowledgement of the current work undertaken by LWARB to assist businesses across London to shift to circular business models, as well as the work of many in London to seal its place as one of the key global cities leading the transition to a circular economy.

LWARB is not the first high-profile response to the the Mayor’s draft strategy during the consultation period, with the London Assembly Environment Committee releasing a report last month (20 September) calling for the introduction of a circular economy in the capital, estimating that its introduction could reduce London’s waste by up to 60 per cent by 2041.

You can read LWARB’s response in full on its website.

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