Mayor’s recycling targets go up in smoke at Beddington

London will edge ever closer to burning 50 per cent of its waste when the Beddington Lane incinerator, operated by Viridor, fires up in anger next year.

That’s according to figures from London Assembly Member Caroline Russell, whose question to London Mayor Sadiq Khan elicited the response that it is against his policy for there to be more incineration in the capital.

Khan’s environmental strategy demands that by 2030, 65 per cent of all London’s municipal waste should be recycled.

Viridor will operate the Beddington Lane incinerator on behalf of the South London Waste Partnership, which comprises four councils, including two Labour-controlled boroughs, Merton and Croydon.

There goes the recycling targets: Viridor’s Beddington Lane incinerator will burn 300,000 tons of rubbish every year

As Khan’s answer at Mayor’s questions indicates, and Russell highlights, the new incinerator is likely to reduce the recycling rates in Croydon.

Recycling in west London fell dramatically after several councils – Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea – started to use the Belvedere waste incinerator in 2012. The incinerator generates energy but recyclable materials are also being burned.

In Wandsworth, recycling rates have fallen, from 26.7 per cent in 2010 to 21.9 per cent in 2016-2017, since becoming more reliant on incineration. In Kensington and Chelsea, recycling has fallen from 31.9 per cent to 25.7 per cent in the same period.

In his regular Q&A session at City Hall, Khan said he will talk to councils so “we don’t inadvertently reach a position that you referred to with Belvedere”, after being warned about the potential recycling rate drop off.

Khan also expressed his concerned about incinerators’ impact on air quality and global warming.

London currently incinerates 46 per cent of local authority collected waste. From next summer, the Beddington Lane incinerator will be burning an additional 300,000 tons per year.

The Mayor’s draft London Environment Strategy has a target of “an overall 65 per cent municipal waste recycling rate (by weight) by 2030 in London” and an interim target of “waste authorities to collectively achieve a 50 per cent LACW [local authority collected waste] recycling target by 2025”.

Caroline Russell: council’s should be aware of the risksof incinerators

Russell, the London-wide Green Party Assembly Member, said: “As record levels of household waste are being burned, it’s no surprise that London is only managing to recycle an average of 33 per cent. That’s a pathetic amount when the Mayor’s draft environment strategy says that 70 per cent of our waste is recyclable.

“Every council should be aware of the risks of using these incinerators and keep a close eye on what is happening to their waste to keep in line with recycling targets in the Mayor’s Environment Strategy.”

Until 2014, Croydon’s Labour group said they opposed the SLWP incinerator contract with Viridor.

On being elected to run the council in May 2014, and before construction began on the incinerator, Labour opted not to withdraw from the 25-year, £1billion incinerator deal with Viridor.

In briefings to senior Labour councillors, council officials – including several senior figures who had steered Croydon into the incinerator deal under the Tories – claimed that penalty clauses in the contract would be too costly. Instead, Croydon Council Tax-payers will now be paying Viridor at least £10million per year for the next quarter of a century for the privilege of burning our rubbish.

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4 Responses to Mayor’s recycling targets go up in smoke at Beddington

  1. Lewis White says:

    Thank You Inside Croydon for exposing the huge scandal or series of scandals that adhere to the Beddington Incinerator, and now thanks to Caroline Russell whose question has put Sadiq Kahn on the spot. At last, the truth–recycling is down !

    What could be easier than chucking rubbish in the fire, than the more costly sorting and recycling of waste? .

    Polythene bags— used to wrap our food by suppliers working for the supermarkets — are nice and burnable, and are therefore attractive to the furnace masters, which creates a disincentive to recycling. It is not we, the consumers, who are failing to want to recycle these bags. They all carry the weasel words “Not currently recycled” , although in fact there are firms who can do this for clean polythene. It seems so wrong that supermarkets are specifying packaging that is not recycled.

    I think that the public are being deprived of the knowledge that must be “out there”, about the health effects of air pollution from incinerators London-wide, and about the viability of other forms of waste disposal. For example, how high a proportion of their municipal household waste is now being “composted” in high temperature pressure vessels by councils like Southwark, who have a new facility only a few years old? It clearly is a viable alternative to all or some incineration? So, how much waste can it divert from landfill and incineration?

    Do we really need all these incinerators , or , in other words, with better recycling and with outlawing of “unrecyclable plastic packaging”, how many incinerators would be really necessary, if any? And where, if we need any, should they be located?

    One fundamental tragedy of the South West London Waste Partnership, as far as I can see, is that at the very time when technology is giving us less-damaging alternatives, that can reduce and safely render inert a big proportion of household waste, we have ended up with an incinerator right in SW London, close to hundreds of thousands of people..

    The term “energy from waste” sound good, but is it really just a bit of window dressing, by the people who are trying to justify incineration, and make it seem the eco-friendly thing to do?.

    It would seem that, thanks to public demand, and campaigns by the Daily Mail and others, Michael Gove is shortly going to look at the whole topic of waste plastic.

    The floating plastic continent in mid Pacific is part of this , as are our plastic bottle-strewn parks and roadside verges, but the lungs and health of Londoners are another aspect.

    I am sure that we can make use of biodegradable wrappers made from cellophane, in place of polythene bags for most typical supermarket / home food wrapping purposes. This would certainly make a huge reduction in the volume of my own wheeled bin, as I recycle most other routine waste.

  2. Pingback: Mayor of London questioned about the incinerator | STOP the South London Incinerator

  3. Jane Gealy says:

    It’s a tough call, do we incinerate more waste, now that China has stopped taking our recycling or do we send it to landfill? How long will it take for the UK to build recycling facilities that tackles the difficult plastics?

    • Not a tough call really. As Tom Brake (yes, him) highlighted 16 years ago, before he found Viridor (oh, the irony), the technology already exists to recycle more, and better.

      Trouble is, there’s not as much profit in it for vested interests as there is in incineration and polluting.

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