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A Circular Economy for London

July 31, 2014

Circular Economy Management – London ‘needs 40’ new recycling facilities by 2050

Circular Economy
Circular Economy

Simplified and consistent waste and recycling collection throughout all London boroughs are needed as well as improved financing for waste infrastructure in order to create a circular economy in the capital by 2050, according to the London Mayor’s Infrastructure Plan.

Launched for consultation July 30, the Mayor’s plan states that that existing waste management infrastructure in London “is not suitable” for a move to a circular economy and that there is a “lack of financing mechanisms to help develop the necessary facilities”.

Estimates cited in the report suggest that London’s population growth rate has increased in the last decade and the population will surpass 8.6 million early next year. By the 2030s, it adds, the capital’s population will reach 10 million, increasing to 11.3 million by 2050.

As such, although it concedes that projections are “difficult” as the transition will be commercially-led, the Plan estimates that as many as 40 new waste management facilities – many for reuse and recycling – are required in London in addition to existing infrastructure in order to fulfil the Mayor’s aim of creating a circular economy in the capital by 2050.

The economic benefits of having this waste and recycling infrastructure in place could save London around £5 billion, the report adds, but without this infrastructure London’s current waste disposal costs of £250 million a year will double by 2050.

The Plan states: “London will require millions of tonnes of annual capacity in order to disassemble, remanufacture, repair and reuse components, and for waste material separation and reprocessing.”

Funding a Circular Economy in London

In order to fund the infrastructure boost, the Mayor is proposing that money saved on “diminishing” landfill tax receipts from London waste over the coming decades should be specifically put towards a “revolving investment fund for the waste sector”.

The Plan suggests that this fund would be administered by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), awarding a combination of development loans, equity investments and land purchase.

LWARB would also work alongside the Green Investment Bank (GIB), the London Green Fund and private financers to help develop the necessary new infrastructure.  In addition, the Board is working on a Route Map to the Circular Economy, which will be available in early 2016.

Simplified Infrastructure

Feeding into improved infrastructure, the document also calls for a more consistent and efficient approach across London to waste and recycling collection systems, which would “better allow for the capture of materials from Londoners and London’s businesses”.

It estimates the move could save £180 million – half of this through financial savings and half through “negotiating a better price for recyclates”.

Echoing recommendations made in the Environmental Audit Committee’s report last week (see letsrecycle.com story), the Mayor’s Plan states that the different materials collected in different ways across the capital’s 33 collection authorities is “confusing to London’s more transient population”.

The report states: “The system or systems will need to ensure that material is captured, transported and sorted in a manner that ensures the integrity of the material right through to the repair/reprocessing facility.

“The Mayor, through LWARB, will work with London’s boroughs to help provide a more consistent reuse and recycling service to Londoners, taking into account local differences and priorities.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This plan is a real wake up call to the stark needs that face London over the next half century. Infrastructure underpins everything we do and we all use it every day. Without a long term plan for investment and the political will to implement it this city will falter. Londoners need to know they will get the homes, water, energy, schools, transport, digital connectivity and better quality of life that they expect.”

With responses invited from the UK government, Londoners, businesses and the wider South East region, the consultation on the Mayor’s Infrastructure Plan 2050 runs until October 31 2014. The aim is to then complete the Plan by winter of 2014/15.

Reused from http://tinyurl.com/londoncirculareconomy