Lambeth Council’s recycling rate plummets

20 November 2014

Lambeth Council should come clean and launch an urgent investigation to address the crisis in its waste and recycling services, says the Green Party.  The call comes after the latest annual recycling figures were released yesterday showing Lambeth’s recycling rate continues to plummet.

The Council didn’t even manage to recycle half its stated target for the period 2013-2014.  

The Department for Environment, food and rural affairs now lists Lambeth in 28th place out of 33 London boroughs in the recycling league table, recycling just 21% of its waste. Last year the rate was 23%.

This compares with a 34% rate in neighbouring Southwark, which lay 5% behind Lambeth in 2010, and 42% in Croydon. The national rate is 44%.

Lambeth’s recycling rate was 27% in 2010 but has since been on a downward trajectory.  The rate has now fallen for the first time below the levels that Labour inherited when it took power in Lambeth in 2006.  

A report by the London Assembly in 2011, suggested that varying recycling rates across London are down to a failure in political leadership.   

Two years ago, the Green Party exposed how Lambeth Council was fiddling its recycling figures to try and meet its targets.  The Council started sending its waste for incineration – causing air pollution – and claimed this was ‘recycling’.  This was covered by the BBC and brought a rebuke from the Mayor of London. 

The latest statistics cover the period following the chaotic roll-out of a new bin policy a year ago. 

Lambeth Green Party councillor Cllr Scott Ainslie said: “Labour in Lambeth have tried to cover up the plummeting recycling rate by massaging the facts.  They should come clean and look urgently at why its recycling rate is now below the levels they inherited when they took over the running of the council.   

“Lambeth’s waste and recycling services appear to be in crisis.  The council is facing a fly-tipping epidemic following charges to collect bulky waste. It is using additional roaming pick-up vehicles to clear up the mess rather than implementing a fair, safe and workable system of disposal.  The introduction of smaller bins, possibly because of its shambolic introduction, also seems to have failed to make an impact so far.  This needs to be addressed with better information for residents.   

Lambeth Green Party convener Jonathan Bartley said: “Many local people are still unsure about what can be recycled. The Council is also failing to get the message across that material is rejected for recycling if it is contaminated with food or if paper is wet. Lambeth’s bar owners have suggested communal storage of bottles but their imaginative proposals have been fobbed off.

“Lambeth fails to maximise the opportunities afforded by parks to mulch local garden waste and recycling bins in parks have been conspicuous by their absence.  The council fails to capitalise on its plentiful railway arches for community storage of bulky items and it does not foster re-use of unwanted furniture or repair of serviceable items.  Lambeth should use its pre-Christmas communication to state how it will put methods in place to help residents recycle. 

Boosting recycling rates can save councils hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, at a time when budgets are so tight.  The Council must urgently look at why their system is failing, come clean about the problems and take action to address them.  Other councils have done so.  Why can’t Lambeth?”






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