Newham Council could miss recycling targets, campaigners claim

PUBLISHED: 14:00 15 June 2018

Rubbish (black) and recycling bins line a street .

Rubbish (black) and recycling bins line a street .

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Campaigners have warned recycling targets will be missed if the council doesn’t get more government money as figures show Newham has the lowest rate in the capital.

Newham Council environment chief Rachel Tripp. Pic: NEWHAM COUNCILNewham Council environment chief Rachel Tripp. Pic: NEWHAM COUNCIL

The warnings came after 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 Newham just 14 per cent of household waste was recycled last year. That compares to 25pc in Barking and Dagenham and 28pc in Tower Hamlets.

The borough recycling most last year was Bexley on 53pc.

The East London Waste Authority (ELWA) carries out waste disposal for the council.

Recycling collections are delayedRecycling collections are delayed

Cllr Rachel Tripp, Newham’s environment chief said: “I am disappointed that despite work done by the council, our 
recycling rate has remained 

She added that the council met with DEFRA and minister Therese Coffey last September to explain the situation in Newham and the work being done to address the problem.

At a conference in Nottingham last October Ms Coffey singled Newham out for praise for its work tackling recycling.

“I will be working with mayor Rokhsana Fiaz to make recycling a priority,” Cllr Tripp explained.

Rubbish (black) and recycling bins line a street .Rubbish (black) and recycling bins line a street .

“I will be talking to residents to try to understand the barriers that stop them recycling.”

She added that Newham plans to team up with other councils within the ELWA to tackle the issue.

Ian Pirie of green campaign group Friends of the Earth said one thing 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 the BBC series Blue Planet.

The borough's recycling will now be sorted in Lincolnshire. Picture: PA Images/Philip Toscano.The borough's recycling will now be sorted in Lincolnshire. Picture: PA Images/Philip Toscano.

“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 trouble is we tend not to take drastic steps until something dreadful happens,” he said.

“It’s sad but the process of bringing about change is usually slow unless we run into a crisis.”

Newham Council environment chief Rachel Tripp. Pic: NEWHAM COUNCILNewham Council environment chief Rachel Tripp. Pic: NEWHAM COUNCIL

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 in London is to make recycling easier than chucking stuff in the bin.”

He argued more waste would be recycled if each household 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
that 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.

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 be collecting one million extra tonnes of waste in 30 years, according to the London Assembly.

What do you think should be done to improve recycling rates in Newham? Email the editor at

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