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London’s Growing Waste


  • In 2016, local authorities collected 3.7 million tonnes of waste – enough to fill more than 1,500 Olympic-size swimming pools
  • Recycling rates have dropped back down to the levels seen in 2010.
  • In 30 years, local authorities will need to collect an extra one million tonnes of waste - equal to an additional 500,000 refuse trucks of rubbish each year[2]. This is not sustainable from an environmental or economic perspective.

The London Assembly Environment Committee published its report, ‘Waste: The Circular Economy’ on 21 September which examines how a circular economy could offer a solution to the problem of an unsustainable waste management model - and strengthen London’s economy at a time of uncertainty.                                                                                                                          

The report found that by adopting a circular model for its waste, London could:

  • reduce 60 per cent of its waste by 2041
  • put London “on track” to become carbon-neutral
  • create 12,000 new jobs by 2030
  • provide £7 billion net benefit to London’s economy.

Environment Committee Chair, Leonie Cooper AM, said:

“The way we deal with waste in London needs to change. Recycling rates have fallen, the population continues to grow, and landfill space is quickly running out.

We acknowledge the importance of the Route Map produced by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and we’re delighted to see importance given to the circular economy in the Mayor’s Draft Environment Strategy. Clearly we are in the early stages of change. This is further demonstrated by the growing popularity of innovative recycling websites and apps. The potential for new jobs is enormous.

Where we go from here, however, is crucial. The Mayor needs to take a visible lead in pushing the circular economy forward. This should start with ensuring that organisations in the GLA Group procure goods and services in line with its principles. The Mayor should set a whole-city vision which includes specific milestones towards growing the circular economy. Awareness also needs to be vastly improved among London’s businesses and an outreach programme led by the Mayor would address these issues.”