11 August 2017 by Steve Eminton

Mayor consults on 50% recycling by 2025 for London councils

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (11 August) officially proposed that London’s recycling target of 50% by 2020 be put back five years to 2025 for local authorities.

And, he also declared incineration “undesirable, costly and an inefficient use of resources”.

The UK has a national recycling target set by the European Union of 50% by 2020, although ministers have recognised that London will not achieve this.

Extra time

Councils will have together to achieve a 50% recycling rate by 2025, says the draft Strategy

Until now there is thought to have been no official declaration that the Mayor would give local authorities an extra five years to “collectively” deliver the 50% recycling target – the current local authority rate is just 32%. Last year the Mayor and the Greater London Authority were still working on a plan towards “recycling, or composting at least 45 per cent of municipal waste by 2015, 50 per cent by 2020”.

The Mayor is also proposing a 65% recycling target for 2030 – this is a figure that he said that he was working to last year (see letsrecycle.com story)

The recycling target is just one element of a draft London Environment Strategy published for consultation today (11 August), with consultation closing on 17 November.

Commercial waste

The recycling targets and claimed recycling levels in the draft Strategy are somewhat confusing.

The waste section of the Strategy claims that London actually has a current recycling rate of 52%. However, it is this thought that to achieve this level GLA modelling figures have been used. These figures have shown a much higher recycling rate for commercial waste not collected by councils.

This higher recycling rate can be included in an overall figure because, as the draft Strategy recalls, in 2011 there was a change of municipal waste definition to include waste “similar in composition to household waste”. This brings an additional 3.3 million tonnes of waste into scope in London, regardless of who collects it, points out the draft Strategy.


Adding this extra high (non-council) recycling rate into the numbers boosts the London recycling level by 20% so the Mayor can claim the London 52% recycling rate, despite the council rate at 32%.

Draft strategy

The draft London Environment Strategy is out for consultation

The section on waste in the draft Strategy also criticises the linear economy. It states: “Our linear economy (take, make and dispose) is unsustainable. It produces too much waste, with around 7m tonnes coming from London’s homes, public buildings and businesses each year, too much of which goes to landfill and incineration. Of this, only 52 per cent is currently recycled and performance has stagnated.”

Detail on local authority requirements are shown on page 282 with policy proposal 7.2.1a. This notes that modelling by WRAP shows that London councils could achieve 42-42% recycling by 2022.


Picking up on current recycling issues in the public arena, the document calls for a target of 20 per cent reduction in food and drink waste per person by 2025 with a focus on cutting single use plastic bottles and drink cups.

The study also mentions the issue of quality needed in recycling noting how savings in terms of waste bill costs, which are now “in excess of £2 billion a year and rising” can be met if there is “effective waste management” delivering high quality materials.

The role of the London Waste and Recycling Board is highlighted and it will help support waste authorities and councils to boost commercial reuse and recycling performance. A circular business programme involving the Board and also the Ellen MacArthur Foundation will be developed.

The Mayor is supporting the phasing out of waste transport using “fossil fuels” with more low or zero emission alternatives.

And, he wants Recycle for London message used in awarness raising activities.

Related links
Draft London Environment Strategy

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