Sunday, April 13, 2008

Launch of Green Party's Waste Manifesto at Pepys Community Recycling Project

Green candidates 'get down and dirty with hot, steamy compost' (or something like that!)

Berry, Green candidate for Mayor of London joined London Assembly member and local councillor Darren Johnson and me at the Pepys Community Recycling Project in Deptford on Friday to launch the Green Party’s waste manifesto for London. Also in the picture is Nico Quiqerel who runs the project, which is based on Grove Street.

Pepys Community Recyling Project is a social enterprise which collects food waste door-to-door from 1,250 homes on the Pepys Estate. Until funding ran out in December it was also collecting dry recyclables door-to-door. Their participation rates are an impressive 30% for food waste, and (until the funding stopped in December) an amazing 50% for dry recyclables, way above Lewisham’s average recycling rates.

I’ve posted before about how being green should be made the easy option, not something that involves lots of sacrifices and the Pepys Community Recycling Scheme is an excellent example of just this. It’s asking a lot to expect people living on the 15th floor of a tower block to lug their recycling down to the green bins outside rather than shove it all down the chute.

As well as encouraging greater recycling participation, the scheme also creates local employment and, by composting the food waste locally, reduces the carbon emissions in transporting waste. The food waste is processed by an accelerated composter and enriched with green waste. The resulting compost is used in the community allotment, the cafe garden and local households.

I would love to see every estate in Lewisham have a composting scheme like this and think we would quickly hit 50% recycling rates if we did. The flipside of course is that it costs more to collect waste door-to-door than just providing estate recycling bins, but Pepys Community Recycling is currently looking at a range of ways to make themselves more financially, as well as environmentally 'sustainable'. They receive a small amount of funding from housing associations and Berkeley Homes (the scheme collects from Aragon Tower), but need more investment to survive and expand.

I think it’s high time that London had a single waste authority so we could look strategically, across the capital, at the best ways of dealing with our waste. We need to think big, in terms of plants to reprocess recyclable materials, to avoid the ridiculous situation we are now in where Greenwich & Lewisham's plastic bottles are sold to China, our paper and cardboard to Malaysia and the only thing that gets properly recycled in the UK is our tin cans. However, we also need a strategy that supports and encourages small, community-focussed schemes like this, rather than transporting our food waste for miles.

Anyway, below is a summary of the Green Party’s waste manifesto for Londoners.

The Green Party’s Waste Plan for London

London to become a Zero Waste city, eliminating waste by:

  • treating “waste” as a valuable resource for reuse, recycling or composting;
  • investing properly in modern local recycling and composting facilities so as to do away with harmful incineration and landfill;
  • favouring products designed for long life and recycling;
  • setting challenging targets to increase household recycling and composting to reach European levels of 80% by 2015.
Only by adopting a radical zero waste approach can London phase out dependence on landfill, as required by law, without resorting to a new generation of incinerators.

London needs, above all, a coherent city-wide strategy for managing its waste, coordinated by a proper regional waste authority. Without this, individual boroughs will not be able to solve London’s waste problems by acting individually and in an uncoordinated way.

Reducing waste
1. “Money-back” schemes for the return of glass bottles and other reusable containers to be introduced.
2. Producers to be responsible for their products (and packaging) at end of life.
3. All London public bodies (including borough councils, GLA, police, schools and hospitals), to use buying power to bulk buy refurbished and recycled goods.

4. By 2012 all London households to get a weekly doorstep recycling collection which covers the full range of recyclable products, including paper, card, glass, cans, foil, textiles and shoes, plastic, batteries, motor oil, aerosols, mobile phones and toner and ink cartridges.
5. All flats to receive a similar quality home-based recycling service.
6. All litter bins in London’s public places to have separate compartments for paper, glass, cans and plastic.

7. All London households to be offered home composting bins (and instructions) for green and kitchen waste, with communal composting schemes to be set up on housing estates. Households to receive a weekly collection of green and organic kitchen waste as an alternative to home composting. By 2012 all households to be covered by composting service.
8. London parks to offer local composting services for garden waste (bring garden waste, collect compost for garden).

New building developments
9. All new developments, including commercial and public buildings, to be designed with facilities for storing separated waste until collection.

Reuse and recycling industries
10. Land and investment to be provided to support reprocessing plants in London for the main recyclable materials, to avoid long distance transportation and provide local jobs. London plastics reprocessing plants to be established urgently.
11. Reuse and refurbishment centres, for furniture and electrical goods, such as cookers and washing machines, to be open in each London locality.
12. Local ‘swap’ days to be held regularly.

Handling and transportation of waste
13. London’s future needs for reuse, recycling and composting centres to be assessed urgently so that suitable sites can be protected now from development.
14. Waste to be handled locally, with London becoming self-sufficient.
15. Water and rail transport (for waste) to have financial advantage over road. Much greater use to be made of London’s waterways, and adjacent land, for waste transport and management.

Hazardous waste
16. Transport of nuclear waste through London to end.
17. London boroughs to provide all households with clear instructions and simple arrangements for hazardous waste e.g. paints and solvents.

18. No new or replacement incinerators and a strict timetable to be set for phasing out existing incineration.

Public information
19. Public awareness campaigns to expand, with public bodies setting far better example. All boroughs to give telephone information on how to recycle a large variety of items, from Lego bricks to metal hangers to computers.

Of course, if you want this to happen, you need to vote Green on May 1st. Find out more about the voting system here, read our manifesto in full here, or take a look at our London Green Party website or the Sian for Mayor site.


hilly said...

All this talk of waste reminds me, could we have a system where people keep their waste (that would be wheelie bins) on their property, and not create an obstacle course along footpath?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me about this, I enquired about this a while back, and was told

"In 2003 the Council issued some service standards that requested that bins would be put back but these were never enforced. We will be relooking at the service standards again shortly so that everyone is clear as to roles and responsibilities - both for us as the Council and residents.

Having said that, where there have been particular problems on streets with bins being left on the highway e.g. if they are causing an obstruction, then we can and have issued a notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requesting that they put their bins back."

So I will follow up again, but if there are any particular problem areas, eg very narrow pavements where the bins are causing a particular obstruction, please let me know and I will ask for enforcement action as above.

PS: Is this Rachel?!