This report provides members with an overview of waste minimisation and recycling in the borough.
Councillor Wesley Harcourt, Cabinet Member for the Environment commented that at the last meeting the Committee requested clarification around who carried out the street cleanliness inspections relating to the Council’s performance figures. It was noted that street assessments were carried out independently from Serco on random days.
Thomas Baylis, Waste Action Development Manager introduced the report and provided an overview of waste minimisation and recycling in the borough. The Council currently had a household recycling rate of 23.7%. When ranked alongside other London boroughs the Council ranked 29th of 33 for 2016/17. The Council had a relatively low recycling rate in comparison to other boroughs. However, this was the same for all inner-city London boroughs as they faced similar challenges.
An overview of the challenges faced by the Council was provided. The Council was the 6th most densely populated borough in the country and had a large proportion of high-rise flats which made it difficult to collect waste and recycling. In addition, the lack of space also made it very challenging to store and collect waste which contributed to recycling.
As part of the Mayor’s Environmental strategy to increase the municipal recycling rate, the Council would consider measures on how recycling could be improved and what levels they could achieve, including any actions would be taken. One way to increase the recycling rate would be to collect garden waste separately. A successful separate garden waste would boost the municipal recycle rate. Furthermore, collecting food waste separately and disposing of it as recycling would also boost the recycling rate. To complete this piece of work the Council had requested support from Resource London, who worked with the Mayor’s office to model different waste collection systems. The outcome would be presented to members who would have the opportunity to feed into the new waste contract.
Councillor Ann Rosenberg asked whether the Council offered instruction guidelines to residents on how to use their composters. Thomas Baylis explained that residents were encouraged to use their composters to help minimise kitchen waste. An event would take place in the summer to install a large composter in the Sand End Adventure Playground (SEAPIA). The community were keen to get this set up as they didn’t already have composting in place. On the day of installation children and staff at the centre would be encouraged to engage and learn about food waste and composting.
The Chair asked for further information to be provided around the challenges faced for food recycling. Councillor Wesley Harcourt Cabinet Member for the Environment explained that these would be determined as part of the work carried out by the Council for the Mayor’s environmental strategy. Some of the issues faced by the Council, included the costs involved and developing peoples understanding and behaviours around food waste. The aim would be to set out a pilot with priorities situated in North and South of the borough.
The Chair asked what measures were in place to help with the education of textile waste. In response Thomas Baylis noted that the Council had many charity shops in the borough where there was an opportunity to hand in clothes. In addition, an organisation called TRAID held a waste transfer licence and offered a free home collection service, which also applied to small electrical items. A more detailed summary of the textile-based plans would be circulated to the Committee members.
Councillor Ann Rosenberg asked whether local businesses would look at setting up their own shared anaerobic digestion facilities. In response Thomas Baylis explained that this may take some time to develop due to the technical and logistical requirements, however the feedback would be forwarded to the Council’s waste team for consideration.