Johnson reveals plans to scrap landfill for London

Better recycling facilities for people who live in flats and support for new projects to make energy from rubbish are among proposals published to divert all of London's waste away from landfill by 2025.

Better recycling facilities for people who live in flats and support for new projects to make energy from rubbish are among proposals published to divert all of London's waste away from landfill by 2025.

London Mayor Boris Johnson's draft waste strategy aims to reduce to zero the amount of waste going to landfill, in a bid to save money for councils and taxpayers and reduce the greenhouse gases of the capital's bins.

Londoners generate four million tonnes of "municipal" rubbish from homes, some small businesses and street litter, which costs £600 million a year to deal with.

Much of it goes to landfill sites which are filling up and getting more expensive, as a result of rising taxes aimed at stopping too much waste ending up in the ground.

As well as costing money through landfill taxes, the rubbish can produce greenhouse gases such as methane as it breaks down, while recycling materials such as metal uses less energy and resources than creating new products from scratch.

The capital has the worst recycling rates in England, at 25 per cent, a figure which is also lower than other major world cities such as Berlin, New York and Sydney.

But cutting landfill, boosting recycling and generating energy from waste could save London £90 million a year, the draft strategy said.

It lays out ways the Mayor can work with boroughs to raise recycling rates, efforts to increase the number of innovative facilities to get energy from waste and measures for cleaning up the streets, cutting packaging and boosting the amount of goods which are reused or repaired.

Mr Johnson also plans to ask the Waste and Recycling Board, which he chairs, to contribute funding to help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

The strategy sets London-wide targets for boosting recycling from current levels to 45 per cent of waste by 2015 and 60 per cent by 2031, and the Mayor has written to borough leaders to urge them to redouble efforts to boost recycling.

With half of London's homes consisting of flats or multi-occupancy buildings, more needs to be done to make it easier for those households to recycle.

Funding from the WRB could be used to help change bin chutes in blocks of flats so they can take recycling as well or put collection points near doorways or other convenient spots.

Homeowners could also be supplied with collapsible bags to bring their rubbish down to recycling points to make it easier to carry than the large plastic boxes often given out.

Johnson also plans to work with businesses and manufacturers in a bid to drive down the amount of waste generated in the first place from packaging.

And he will work with organisations such as Freecycle in a bid to develop a comprehensive network and maps of where people can reuse and repair goods such as furniture.

The strategy also looks at ways of boosting new technology for turning waste that is not recycled or composting into energy, such as anaerobic digestion or "gasification", which are much cleaner than incineration.

The plans include providing investment for the plants, which could be installed on the site of existing waste facilities which are currently used for incineration or processes to deal with rubbish.

And in the run up to the Olympics in 2012, Johnson is calling on the Government to provide extra funding to help London clean up the streets.

And he said he will develop and support public awareness campaigns on recycling, littering, fly-tipping and chewing gum in a bid to improve the city.

He said: "I want to work with borough councils to harvest the massive economic potential coming from London's waste, both to save money off the city's bills and to improve our environment.

"This will be achieved through reducing the mounds of waste generated in the first place and expanding on the emerging trend for the reuse of household items through networks such as Freecycle.

"We must also seek to unblock the remaining barriers to recycling making it easier to take this option rather than simply chuck unwanted stuff in the bin, for example, providing better collection facilities in flats and multi-occupancy dwellings.

"With the focus of the world turning to London ahead of 2012, I also want to see a re-doubling of efforts by everyone in the capital to make our streets cleaner and more pleasant."

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