Recycling rates are going the wrong way

Environmental campaigners demand improvements over household waste

Friday, 17th June — By Charlotte Chambers

Dr Rembrandt Koppelaar

Dr Rembrandt Koppelaar

RECYCLING rates in Islington have fallen, new figures suggest, leaving environmental campaigners demanding improvements.

A council report discussed at the Town Hall this week said around 30 per cent of household waste in Islington is recycled – a drop of 1 per cent from last year’s statistics – or roughly 560 tonnes or the equivalent of 44 London buses full of waste that was burnt rather than recycled, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Islington’s goal is to recycle 32 per cent of household waste this year and up that figure to 40 per cent by 2030.

The Mayor of London has set a target for the figure to be 65 per cent, with the remainder going for incineration.

Rembrandt Koppelaar of Let’s Talk Rubbish, a campaign group based in Islington, said that recycling rates had hardly budged in 10 years, although this figure is in line with other inner London boroughs.

He said Labour’s manifesto pledge to invest £200,000 year on year “on new recycling facilities on estates” was not enough and that people were “asking the council to really step up the ambition and investment in making recycling accessible for everyone and helping residents to reach much higher recycling targets”.

Currently Islington spends £3million more on incineration than it does on recycling, which is around £2.1m, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

Dr Koppelaar particularly wants to see the recycling of food waste made a priority – something the Town Hall’s environment chief Labour councillor Rowena Champion has said will be rolled out to all estates and flats above shops by next year.

She has not yet responded to the recommendations set out by Let’s Talk Rubbish following a meeting with Dr Koppelaar last month, at which he presented the findings of a survey of Islington residents.

Last month neigh­bouring Haringey’s Labour council signed up to all Let’s Talk Rubbish manifesto recommenda­tions.

According to the group’s survey respon­dents, 9 out of 10 Islington residents would like to see a future without incineration and the adoption of the mayor’s target for recycling, which campaigners say shows the appetite to do more is there.

Dr Koppelaar called on Islington to adopt more progressive ideas, and pointed out a number of councils in London were trialing the “one bag of rubbish a week” challenge, in a bid to encourage people to recycle more, including Lambeth. This had led to a 30 per cent increase in recycling and a 20 per cent reduction in rubbish, he added.

When speaking to the Tribune last month, Cllr Champion defended the council’s record on recycling and laid responsibility for its failure to improve its numbers at the hands of the Conservative government and cuts to local authority budgets.

This week she described improving recycling on estates as a “priority” and added a new Reduction and Recycling Plan was in development with the Mayor of London, “which will set out in more detail how we will significantly increase recycling in Islington”.

She called on the government for “far more action” on packaging and creating a deposit return scheme.

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