Croydon is struggling to meet Mayor’s recycling targets

Residents in Croydon, or Sutton and the other boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership who endure having Veolia as their councils’ rubbish contractor, might be forgiven for having allowed Global Recycling Day, which was yesterday, apparently, to have passed them by unnoticed.

Going for the burn: the Viridor incinerator at Beddington won’t do much for recycling rates in south London

After all, the four London boroughs in the SLWP have locked themselves in to a £1billion, 25-year deal with Viridor to burn ever more rubbish at the Beddington incinerator, something which is unlikely to do much to improve recycling rates.

How this squares with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s pledge in the capital’s environment strategy to increase recycling rates in the city to 65 per cent by 2030 is hard to fathom.

The London Assembly environment committee report says 42 per cent of household waste must be recycled in order to achieve the Mayor’s total recycling target.

European targets are aiming on meeting recycling targets for municipal waste of 55 per cent by 2025 and 65 per cent by 2035.

This compares to a target of 50 per cent by 2020 that the government and local authorities are working on.

London boroughs’ recycling rates, with the darkest green showing boroughs with the better recycling rates. None have achieved the Mayor of London’s targets

According to government figures from DEFRA, the environment department, Croydon managed to recycle just 38 per cent of its waste in 2017-2018, ranking our borough 116th of more than 300 local authorities in England. Croydon residents each sent 358kg of rubbish to the tip in the year. For every household with three people or more living there, that works out at more than 1ton of rubbish produced from every Croydon home in a year.

Sutton has a better recycling rate across the borough, at 50 per cent, though residents there also generated 350kg of waste each. Of the other SLWP boroughs, Kingston recycled 48 per cent, while Merton was even worse than Croydon, at 37 per cent.

The figures also relate to the year before the revised contract with Veolia was rolled out across the four SLWP boroughs.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set tough targets on recycling

Given the considerable and obvious difficulties Veolia has had in managing its work, and therefore properly handling waste sorted by households for recycling, DEFRA’s figures for 2018, when made available, should be worth a look. As should the comparative figures once Viridor finally completes the long-delayed commissioning process on its Beddington incinerator and it becomes fully operational.

How the SLWP boroughs cope with the increased recycling targets set by Mayor Khan will be a challenge, especially for Labour-run boroughs Merton and Croydon.

The London Assembly environment committee has made a series of recommendations to improve London’s waste management, including that the Mayor should:

  • Aim for a consistent recycling service
  • Introduce penalty fines for serial recycling offenders
  • Set targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill and incineration by 2026
  • Put more onus on manufacturers to reduce plastic waste and to include better signage on products

Ultimately, households need to reduce their waste and prevent the need for recycling in the first place.

“The latest recycling rate data from DEFRA highlights an alarmingly growing gap between the recycling collection rates and waste collected,” said Matthew Ball, the managing director of Greenredeem.

Greenredeem works with business and local authorities on reward schemes for recycling

Greenredeem is a British-based company which has been working with borough councils, including Lambeth in south London, to offer rewards to residents for recycling and other green activities. They have also worked with national-scale businesses including Marks and Spencer, Haven Holidays and Cineworld and many more. Their “From Cup to Compost” campaign with Unilever and PG Tips encourages people to compost or recycle their tea bags

“While local authorities have been under incredible financial challenges in the last eight to 10 years, it is possible to increase the amount that’s recycled, and reduce the amount of waste that is sent for disposal,” Ball said.

“Engaging with residents, understanding their motivations and rewarding them for doing the right thing is at the heart of the Greenredeem ethos.”

In Ealing, where Greenredeem has been working with the council, the borough’s recycling rate is above 50 per cent, while the amount of waste sent for disposal is one of the lowest across the capital.

But the London-wide situation is that we are, as a city, producing ever more waste. For more, click here.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Business, Croydon Council, Environment, Kingston, London Assembly, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Merton, Outside Croydon, Refuse collection, Sadiq Khan, Sutton Council, Veolia, Waste incinerator and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Croydon is struggling to meet Mayor’s recycling targets

  1. Croydon may have done even better than it has, which is not saying much, if it hadn’t p****d off so many residents by the autocratic, undemocratic, dictatorial and insensitive way in which the new bin arrangements were foisted on largely unwilling, albeit theoretically allied, local population.

    There are many residents but not, I hasten to add, your esteemed, highly responsible correspondent who will be expressing their feelings through non-cooperation.. A little sensitivity and willingness to compromise, instead of Trump like disdain for constituents, would have gone a long way to ensuring better results both in rubbish collection and at the next elections.

  2. Lewis White says:

    The action we really need is for the main political parties to get together and agree a phased national plan to phase out as many packaging unrecyclables. Yes, working with supermarkets and food manufacturers and packers, but with the power to require a result, not just a “goal”.

    To me, the little net bags that oranges are sold in really sum up what used to be right, not many years back, when they were made in a biodegradeable coloured string, but has become wrong–now being sold in unrecyclable poly nets. How many square miles of such nets end up in land fill or the incinerators, from which pollution enters the air we all breathe.

    Millions and millions of packaged medications –pills and tablets–are contained in a pop out pack, comprising a metal foil front (the poppable bit), but a plastic backing. Why? The resulting ensemble is unrecyclable.

    Surely the recycleable solution is to make the whole pack in foil– with a tougher thicker backing and thinner, tearable front foil?

    I try to buy unpackaged fruit and veg, but it is difficult unless I have time to go to London Roa dWest Croydon and Surrey Street, where naked fruit and veg is still sold.

    How often I am forced to buy a wrapped item at a supermarket, and find that the recycling advice says in very small letters “currently not recycled”.

    This is a national disgrace and eco disaster.

    Why should polythene food wrappers not be replaced by vegetable based clear film, or biodegradeable food grade cellophane? The additional cost must be tiny, so why are carrying on with allowing unrecycleable composite packaging to be made and sold?

    Many of the food and drink manufacturers and retailers have done a huge amount in recent years, with biodegradeable cups , sandwich wrappers, and even cutlery. Some supermarkets are –to be fair– starting to reduce the plastic tide.

    It seems to me that Government is dragging its feet, and most of the supermarkets are too.

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