Survey shows reducing carbon emissions and using raw materials wisely are the top demands
The results of a survey by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) have revealed what residents of seven boroughs would like to see prioritised when it comes to rubbish and recycling.
NLWA works with councils in Barnet, Enfield, Haringey, Waltham Forest, Hackney, Camden and Islington to manage household waste and recently conducted what it called a “listening exercise” as the first stage in the development of a joint waste strategy for North London “that will guide NLWA’s work over the coming years”.
Over 2,100 people participated in the consultation exercise held last year, responding through an online survey, pop-up events and focus groups.
The top priority given by respondents was too ‘reduce carbon emissions’, with the second priority ‘using raw materials wisely’ and the third ‘minimising the environmental impact of waste disposal’.
NLWA chair Clyde Loakes said: “When we asked residents how to make North London a greener place, top of their list was reducing carbon emissions and using the earth’s resources wisely.
“North Londoners are committed to improving our city’s sustainability, and they have clear ambitions for how to make it happen.”
Reducing carbon emissions was a top priority for nearly half of all participants who chose this as a key way to improve North London’s environmental outcomes, while more than three quarters of respondents said an important action for local authorities was providing accessible and easy-to-use recycling services.
There was strong consensus among residents about the choices retailers and manufacturers could make to be more sustainable. More than 80% of participants agreed that manufacturers could support better environmental outcomes by minimising the packaging they use on their products.
A majority of respondents also pointed to legislative action that would increase sustainability, such as banning non-recyclable items and making manufacturers responsible for disposal of their products.
On the role of government, Loakes added: “NLWA understands the importance of building a circular economy, but we can’t do it alone. The actions our residents want to see require commitment from manufacturers and from government.
“We’ll continue to put pressure on central government to make sure North Londoners’ environmental priorities are at the top of the national agenda.”
NLWA has come under fire in recent years for its decision to build a new, larger waste incinerator at Edmonton Eco Park, which is now under construction.
While the recent survey did not give respondents a chance to vote on whether they supported the new incinerator, in an open-ended question about what they’d like to see happen, 12% said they wanted their council “to reassess or halt certain activities” such as incineration and fortnightly waste collections.
Malcolm Stow, a leading campaigner with the Stop the Incinerator campaign group, said that NLWA’s survey again demonstrated local people’s opposition to waste incineration. He said: “This seems to me like a clear call to NLWA to reconsider pause and review and implement public access to locally maximise recycling, reuse and repair facilities, and for the radical reduction of residuals for incineration.
“This report clearly shows that NLWA must do more on recycling, renewing, repairing, and not on ‘energy from waste’ incineration and air pollution.”
A formal public consultation will begin this year as NLWA develops its joint waste strategy. Residents will have the opportunity to comment on a draft version of the strategy, which is expected to be released mid-2024.
Read the final report on NLWA’s ‘listening exercise’: