Barking and Dagenham Council could miss recycling targets, campaigners claim
PUBLISHED: 14:00 15 June 2018
Campaigners have warned the council could fail to meet recycling targets if it doesn't get more government money.
The warnings came as figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed local authorities were way off the 50 per cent target set by the European Union for 2020 for turning household rubbish into re-usable materials.
In Barking and Dagenham just over 25 per cent of household waste was recycled last year.
That compares to 37pc in Havering and 14pc in Newham – the lowest rate in London.
The borough recycling most last year was Bexley on 53pc.
However, the borough’s figure is an increase on 19pc for 2015 to 2016.
The East London Waste Authority carries out waste disposal for the council which collects it.
Ian Pirie of green campaign group Friends of the Earth said one of the things stopping the council meeting the target is the number of people living in flats and tower blocks where recycling facilities aren’t easily available.
The retired University of East London lecturer saluted the work TV presenter David Attenborough did to highlight the danger of plastic waste in BBC series Blue Planet.
“He’s done what it would take us 10 years to achieve,” Mr Pirie said.
But he added the priority should be to stop producing so much plastic saying recycling is important but not as much as reducing or reusing products and packaging.
The council aims to reduce household waste by six per cent year on year.
“We buy and waste too much,” he said. “The situation is improving slowly, but the trouble is we tend not to take drastic steps until something dreadful happens.
“It’s sad but the process of bringing about change is usually slow unless we run into a crisis.”
Ed Tombs - a programme manager at waste prevention organisation the London Community Resource Network - said the supermarket plastic bag charge was better than recycling because it reduced the number wasted.
On recycling, he said: “The challenge is to make recycling easier than chucking stuff in the bin.”
He argued more waste would be recycled if households put rubbish into the same bin for it to be separated out after collection.
Charles Craft of Better Reuse - a company that helps make sure bulky waste is used again rather than thrown away - warned councils won’t meet the target.
He said they face an uphill battle with people moving in and out of boroughs making it harder for them to engage with a constantly changing population.
Money was also a big issue.
“How can a council hope to achieve targets when its funding has been cut to ribbons?” he asked.
He explained it was cheaper for councils to send waste to be incinerated or to landfill sites than to recycle it.
“If anyone came up with an innovative idea to recycle 10 years ago they might have got support, but not now,” he said.
He argued instead that with councils strapped for cash manufacturers should be required by law to take responsibility for what happens to products once their disposed of so more get reused or recycled.
A council spokesman agreed with campaigners: “Increasing pressures such as a growing population and government cuts mean the council has had to make significant changes to the waste collection service.
“Despite these difficulties, we are very pleased to see our recycling figures for last year have improved by more than six per cent on the previous year, and we will continue to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan pledged in March to increase average household recycling rates from 33pc to 42pc by 2030. He stated London’s overall recycling rate should increase from 52pc to 65pc by 2030.
Councils could collect an extra one million tonnes of waste - equal to 500,000 extra bin lorries of rubbish a year – in 30 years’ time, according to the London Assembly.