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Recycling of waste "must double" in north London

Apr 09, 2013
The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has published the quarterly waste and recycling figures for the north London boroughs (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest).

They show an increase of 2.4 per cent in the headline recycling rate to 32.9% compared to the same time in 2011/12, which was 30.5%.

The ‘National WasteDataFlow’(1) figures for April to June 2012 show that 32.9% of north London’s household waste was recycled (which included waste sent for composting and reuse)(2) up from 30.5% at the same time last year. Of the total amount of waste collected by the boroughs, 26.6% went to landfill, compared to 29.4% at the same time last year. The rest went for energy recovery.

North London’s councils have set targets to increase recycling to 50% of household waste or more by 2020, and for landfill to fall to 15%(3) or less of the total in the same period. The Mayor of London has also set a target for London’s waste to landfill to fall to zero by 2037.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, chair of NLWA, was pleased with the progress but felt that there was a lot of work to be done. He said: “If we are going to achieve our targets, north London residents will need to almost double the amount of waste currently recycle.”

A recent poll conducted by Survation on behalf of the NLWA found a huge difference between perceived levels of recycling and the actual figures. The poll showed that almost half of residents thought the recycling rate was currently more than 30%, while a quarter thought the current rate was over 50%.(4)

Cllr Loakes continued: “It is apparent that people think they are recycling far more than they actually are. The key to achieving our targets is to ensure people know how much they are currently recycling, which gives them the basis from which to aim higher, what the targets are, and what they can do to help work towards them.

“Local councils and the NLWA are providing the recycling services; next we need everyone to truly recycle as much as they can.”

To help residents understand waste and recycling and what they can do to help, NLWA has launched an information campaign. Called Wise Up to Waste, it aims to raise awareness of waste and what happens to it when it leaves the doorstep. Elements of this include the “R£CYCLE – Can you afford not to?” campaign, which illustrates the financial benefits of recycling for communities, and the existing waste food minimisation programme.

Visit the new website ( for further information about the campaign and programmes, including the upcoming road shows around north London (5), new videos explaining what happens to waste, and tips and guidance on shopping smart, wasting less and recycling more.


  1.  (1) WasteDataFlow is the web based system for municipal waste data reporting by UK local authorities to government. The system went live on 30 April 2004. With all data input into the WasteDataFlow system, there is an auditing process that means the latest figures available from the system are approximately six months old.
  2. (2) Note that spring growth and the associated amount of garden waste makes this a regularly higher recycling rate quarter than is shown at year-end.
  3. (3) 15% of the biodegradable municipal waste
  4. (4) The Survation poll showed that 46% of people thought the recycling rate was currently more than 30%, with 23% thinking the current rate was more than 50%. This compares to an actual current published recycling rate of 30%.
  5. (5) Wise Up to Waste road shows have been running since the summer, and further road shows are planned later in 2013
  6. The first figures to be published are for the quarter April to June 2012. Although these are figures for a period which ended more than nine months ago, we wanted to publish a full financial year’s worth of data in quarterly releases so to start in the first quarter, i.e. April to June quarter of 2012 – 13. Future quarterly figures should be issued no more than six months after the quarter end. The July to September 2012 figures will be issued in around a month’s time, and the October to December 2012 quarter during June 2013.

  • The North London Waste Authority arranges the recycling, composting, energy-recovery and disposal  of wastes delivered to it by  seven London Borough Councils.
  • Composting and anaerobic digestion are processes where food and other organic waste are broken down to produce compost, soil conditioner, fertiliser (both solid and liquid) and/or methane gas.
  • Energy recovery broadly means the waste is incinerated to generate electricity; this is done in special boilers that produce steam, which is then driven through turbines to generate the electricity. North London’s only incinerator is at the Edmonton EcoPark. It is one of the largest of its kind in the UK producing 55mW of power – enough to supply 24,000 homes. 
  • Waste for landfill means waste that cannot be recycled,  composted or incinerated. It is transported out of London to landfill sites where it is buried.