Mayor of London Livingstone aims to lift business waste recycling

London boroughs should offer "commercially competitive" recycling services to businesses, collecting at least the same materials as they do for households, the Mayor of London’s draft business waste strategy says.1

Last year Ken Livingstone proposed targets to recycle 95% of construction and demolition waste and 70% of commercial and industrial waste by 2020 as part of an update of the London Plan (ENDS Report 377, p 42 ). Current rates stand at 85% and 40%, respectively.

There were about 7.2 million tonnes of C&D waste arisings in London in 2003 and 6.6 million tonnes of C&I waste.

The draft business waste strategy lists measures to meet the targets, while recognising that business waste is "ultimately outside the Mayor’s and… waste authorities’ direct control".

The Mayor "expects" waste authorities to "offer and promote a commercially competitive recycling service to businesses of at least the same materials as their household collections," the strategy says. Organic kitchen waste collections should be extended to businesses "at a reasonable charge".

Councils are also expected to accept business waste for reuse and recycling at civic amenity sites without charge.

Only 26 of London’s 33 boroughs offer trade waste services, with 14 offering trade waste recycling services. The figures are in line with the national averages, but the Mayor feels recycling collections would be especially beneficial for SMEs, which account for 88% of London businesses.

The draft strategy recognises that the landfill allowance trading scheme (LATS) has given councils an incentive to limit or price themselves out of trade waste collections. Under LATS, councils have to divert biodegradable municipal waste from landfill and end collections of trade waste - which falls under the scheme’s definition of "municipal" waste - reduces the amount of BMW authorities have to recover.

But the draft strategy argues that offering trade waste recycling services "would not negatively affect authorities’ ability to meet LATS" because it would improve waste collection efficiency and generate income through the sale of recyclate.

The Mayor also expects boroughs to provide capacity for commercial waste when developing waste infrastructure, and to consider such facilities as part of site developments or redevelopments.

A borough’s role should not just extend to waste collection and planning, the Mayor says, but also to biannual inspections of all businesses to ensure they comply with waste duty of care rules.

The document contains several proposals designed to encourage London’s businesses to change waste management practices by working with the London Development Agency and its London Environmental Support Service.

The LDA has £6 million per year for three years to leverage investment for recycling infrastructure. It must also establish a "trading hub for recycled materials across London" next year and develop a demonstrator project that makes renewable fuels such as hydrogen from waste by 2010.

Businesses should carry out waste audits to identify what wastes they can recycle and compost. These should also consider waste minimisation. Larger firms should examine the feasibility of generating energy from residual wastes, especially organic wastes.

Next year, the Mayor will pursue these ideas by establishing a business council to produce sector-specific plans for improving waste management.

Also in 2008, supermarkets and their suppliers will be invited to a conference on products that cannot currently be recycled or composted in London, such as drinks cartons (see p 19 ) and urged to develop appropriate treatment facilities.

To lead by example, the Greater London Authority will produce a waste reduction and reuse plan that aims to meet the London Plan’s composting and recycling targets.

The consultation, which is for the London Assembly and functional bodies of the GLA such as Transport for London, runs until 29 June. A full public consultation will occur in the autumn, with adoption expected early next year.

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