LETTER TO THE EDITOR – 9 October 2019
I am writing in response to your article – Landfill tax ‘the driver’, Lib Dem Baroness tells LARAC – of 7 October.
You report that Baroness Huntingdon-Mandeville questioned recycling in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, noting that she had a “a real fear that it goes straight to landfill”. Claims that any recycling collected in the seven north London boroughs are disposed of in landfill are wholly without foundation and entirely inaccurate.
I was surprised to see anyone with a leading role in this policy area reportedly making such ill-informed and baseless comments, and furthermore to see those claims published unchecked by Letsrecycle.com. Allow me to share the facts: North London Waste Authority (NLWA) manages the recycling collected by London Borough of Waltham Forest. The material is sent to two materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in London – the Bywaters MRF in Bow and the Biffa MRF in Edmonton. Material collected from homes in Waltham Forest, and across north London, is recycled unless it is too contaminated to be processed. Any contaminated recycling that has to be disposed of as residual waste goes to an energy from waste facility where energy is recovered to power homes and businesses. Only a very small and diminishing fraction of north London’s residual waste goes to landfill.
NLWA’s recycling contracts include stringent requirements for contractors to trace the movement and end destinations of material for reprocessing – to guarantee genuine and responsible recycling and provide reassurance to north London residents. Furthermore, the vast majority of north London’s recycling is processed at home. In 2018/19, 91% of the collected plastic recycling that is managed by NLWA was processed in the UK, for example. Only 8% went to facilities in Europe and 1% went to facilities in Asia to be processed into new products. This puts NLWA at the forefront of responsible recycling processing in the UK. More information on what happens to recycling in north London is available on our website.
NLWA and its constituent boroughs in north London are committed to supporting and encouraging residents to reduce their waste and recycle more to help tackle the climate emergency; to that end we run a significant and extensive annual waste prevention programme to complement the activities undertaken in the individual constituent boroughs. Misinformation like this does little to help focus attention on the many and real recycling related issues that need urgent attention – like the need for compulsory recycling backed by new and immediate powers for local councils to use with those households and businesses who don’t comply. There is simply no excuse for this sort of poorly judged commentary.
Cllr Clyde Loakes