London waste board to focus on plastics, food and wood

The London Waste and Recycling Board is to spend most of its £84 million budget on improving treatment capacity for six waste streams, according to its first business plan issued in January.1

The board was set up in 2007 by the Environment Department (DEFRA) (ENDS Report 389, p 16 ), but former mayor Ken Livingstone refused to work with it because he wanted a single London waste authority.

In contrast, his successor Boris Johnson agreed to chair the board. He chose Peter Jones, a former director of waste firm Biffa, as his independent appointment to the board. Its six other members include four London councillors and two independents.

According to the business plan, the board will focus on developing infrastructure to treat mixed plastics, food and waste wood, which are currently landfilled in high volumes (see table).

Metal, textiles, and paper and board waste also need attention due to "inadequate" recycling rates among homes and businesses. For example, 83% of metals thrown out by homes and 50% of paper from businesses in London are landfilled, the board says.

The board expects to award £33.7 million in funding during 2009/10, with a similar amount in 2010/11. Some 43% of the budget will be used for recycling projects, 38% for energy recovery, 12% for reuse and 2% for reduction.

The board is soon to call for expressions of interest. Projects should divert waste from landfill and slash CO2 emissions from waste. The business plan draws particular attention to "advanced thermal and/or chemical conversion technologies, with preference for those that have the potential to produce hydrogen from waste".

Thermal projects will be looked on favourably if they contribute to the development of combined heat and power (CHP) plants or district heating networks.

The board’s business plan suggests London’s waste management will change little under Mr Johnson. Mr Livingstone also tried to promote technologies that produce hydrogen from waste and contribute to CHP schemes (ENDS Report 397, p 19  and pp 28-31 ).

However, Mr Johnson intends to issue a municipal waste management strategy for consultation in 2009 and a revised London Plan.

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