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Cutting waste not services

Policy area: Environment

Date of publication: 17 August 2011

File type: PDF Opens in a new window PDF, 708kb


20.6 million tonnes of waste is produced annually in London and boroughs have direct responsibility for collecting and managing the municipal waste proportion. 

Waste authorities in England are required to meet a number of statutory targets for diverting waste from landfill and for increasing the amount of municipal waste recycled. Failure to deliver on these targets will expose authorities to stiff financial penalties in the form of Landfill Tax (for individual waste authorities) and, nationally, to the possibility of EU fines for not meeting landfill diversion targets.

As well as statutory obligations, waste authorities are now operating in a particularly difficult financial environment, having to manage the financial pressures from both lower government spending and private sector investment, and the ever increasing demands from residents and businesses for better and improved services.

In March 2011, London Councils hosted a round table event Opens in a new windowto discuss ideas and priorities for cutting waste not services.

Read the discussion paper Opens in a new window that was circulated before the event.

Read the post event report Opens in a new windowwhich includes some unconventional ideas to manage London’s waste. Many of them have been around for a number of years, but the political climate at that time was not conducive to these ideas becoming reality. In this unprecedented financial climate, now may be the right time to put these ideas forward for wider discussion and possibly into practice. 

The report also identifies the following lobbying priorities.

  • Collective approach against the “right to waste” culture in favour of waste reduction, reuse and recycling
  • Encourage a sustained campaign on recycling
  • Influence the packaging design market and the recyclability of materials entering the packaging waste stream
  • Secure the extension and strengthening of producer responsibility obligations across a number of priority waste streams and for waste authorities to be able to derive more value from the PRN system