Campaigners have warned that the capital could fail to meet recycling targets if local boroughs don’t get more money to help them tackle the problem.
The warnings come after figures from the Department for Environment Statistics revealed that local authorities across London were way off the 50 per cent target set by the European Union for 2020 for turning household rubbish into re-usable materials.
London recorded the lowest home recycling rates in England last year at 33.4 per cent. That was up just 0.3 per cent on the previous year and 10 per cent below the national average.
Close to bottom of the table was Tower Hamlets, which has more blocks of flats than any other borough in the capital. The borough managed to recycle just 26.4 per cent of its household waste in 2017/18. Last year the figure showed a slight increase, with just over 28 per cent of household waste being recycled. This compares to 14 per cent in neighbouring Newham which has the lowest rate in London.
A Tower Hamlets council spokesperson said: “Bringing these functions in-house will give us greater control and flexibility.
“It will allow us to effectively respond to the challenge of serving a rapidly increasing population while ensuring value for money for our residents.
A campaigner from Friends of the Earth told the East London Advertiser: “One of the things stopping councils meeting the target is the number of people living in flats and tower blocks where recycling facilities aren’t easily available.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans last February for a range of measures to tackle the issue. This included a plastic bottle deposit return scheme that gives money back for recycling bottles and setting up drinking fountains in busy areas. Local measures planned included schemes in partnership with local business, and installing infrastructure that benefits air quality.
The Mayor’s Office commented on the figures saying: “Responsibility for waste management in London lies with boroughs and although the mayor has no powers in this area, he believes that it is essential that more action is taken to reduce waste and increase recycling.”