Recycling down and incineration up as Lambeth pollutes London’s air

30 January 2018

Lambeth Council have responded to a members enquiry sent by Councillor Scott Ainslie revealing that they recycled an even lower proportion of waste in 2016-17 than in the previous two years. This is despite Lambeth Labour boasting of "improved recycling" in their "greener, cleaner borough" motion at their council meeting on 24th January [1].

The full details for the last three years can be found below:

2014/5 Recycling 25,977 tonnes (30.32%) Incineration 59,700 tonnes (69.68%)

2015/6 Recycling 26,047 tonnes (30.44%) Incineration 59,520 tonnes (69.56%)

2016/7 Recycling 26,795 tonnes (29.83%) Incineration 63,029 tonnes (70.17%)

Lambeth's recycling efforts have had a troubled history, with Lambeth Green Party flagging issues with the service for many years.

The Department for environment, farm and rural affairs (Defra) data paints an even less flattering picture than Lambeth's official stats above, showing that at no point since 2011/12 have Lambeth raised their recycling level above 30%. [2]

Herne Hill Green Party campaigner and former councillor Becca Thackray said: "The Cabinet has no grounds to feel proud of the borough's recycling rates. The recycling of park user waste, piloted in Brockwell Park, has lacked political energy and imagination from the outset. It cannot be a lack of central government funds which prevents Labour from tackling the issue. It is far more costly to transport waste for incineration than reduce, re-use and separate it.

"Whilst volunteers litter-pick in Ruskin Park, shoppers re-use plastic bags and traders convert to recyclable containers, Lambeth Labour have failed to build on public effort and Green offers of help.

"The Green Party will continue to hold Lambeth to account, and ensure that the public are provided with accurate information. The bald fact is that these recycling rates are below par; in 2015/16, WasteDataFlow reported that the overall average rate for the UK was 43%. In addition to this, the incineration of waste only adds to Lambeth and London's desperate pollution problem, which is blighting the health of many residents." [3]

Ms Thackray, who was a councillor for Herne Hill 2006-10, said a cross-party Climate Change Commission in 2007, had expressed 'disappointment that the council does not collect recycling from outside of businesses, particularly as there is a real keenness from business to be involved in environmental projects, for example the 95% participation rate in Clapham Park'.


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