Mayor reviewing waste contracts over 50% target fears

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has admitted that “considerable improvement” is still required by many local authorities in London for his 50% recycling target to be hit.

Sadiq Khan recycling
The mayor highlight efforts to increase recycling from the commercial sector (Picture: Shutterstock)

Mr Khan added that he is in the process of reviewing all contracts, waste strategies and reduction and recycling plans for 2023-2025, and has set out his “expectation for greater ambition and actions” in them.

In 2018, after declaring a climate emergency, the mayor set the 50% recycling target for all local authority collected waste (LACW), which includes both household and some businesses (see story).

Since then, the recycling rate has actually fallen from 30.1% to 29.9% in 2020/21, it’s lowest rate since 2015/16.

When asked by Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Hina Bokhari if he was confident the target will be met, he said “many boroughs are on track” but said a “considerable improvement is still required by some.

Mr Khan added in his response on 25 July: “Through my review of contracts, strategies and Reduction and Recycling Plans I work with local authorities to increase recycling rates.

“Boroughs are currently drafting new RRPs for 2023 to 2025 and I have set out my expectation for greater ambition and actions in them, for example encouraging the roll out of ReLondon’s Flats Recycling Package, which includes proven measures to increase recycling at purpose-built flats and estates”.


According to Defra statistics, the regional household rate for London is 33%, the lowest in the country.

Sadiq Khan recycling
Labour’s Sadiq Khan is the current mayor of London (picture: Shutterstock)

The mayor however added that alongside household waste, improvements are still needed on the commercial front too, with 27 of the 23 London boroughs offering commercial recycling services.

He said: “I have no powers to direct businesses to improve recycling and it can be challenging for local authorities to introduce commercial services in a competitive market.

“Nevertheless….to support boroughs to introduce or expand commercial recycling services, I convene a commercial waste network through ReLondon and have provided a toolkit for establishing commercial food waste collections”.

It’s hoped that by increasing food waste collections for both businesses and households, this could see a significant rise in the LACW recycling rate.

The mayor also has a long-standing opposition to further incineration capacity in the capital, arguing it will hinder recycling efforts.

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