Too much recycling is going up in smoke instead of being re-used

WE should be working towards a circular economy – as this recent article from Jenny Jones (Green Party representative in the House of Lords)says – far too much of what we are recycling is being incinerated by Local Councils.

Lewisham Council has a very poor rate of recycling – currently only 17.1% compared to a London rate of 33.1% and a National rate of 43.7%. (2014/15 figures obtained from the Annual Monitoring Report 2016-17:

In other countries, landfill bans for certain materials have also helped to divert waste from disposal and increase recycling and composting.
Energy saved by recycling rather than burning materials: Paper 3 x; Plastic 5 x; & Textiles 6 x
(Frirends of the Earth “Up in smoke” report 2003).

Priority materials would
include biodegradable materials, such as food, green
waste, paper and cardboard. These materials need to be
diverted from landfill to comply with the EU Landfill Directive (

The Local Government Association supports the maximisation of reusing materials “Make do and mend, pre-loved, second hand, up-cycling, reconditioning, pre-owned.”: as it has a financial benefit for tax payers by reducing the amount that councils have to pay in landfill tax and disposal; an economic benefit by expanding the industry and creating jobs along the supply chain; as well as putting pounds in the pockets of charities, businesses and individuals by helping them to realise the resale value of unwanted products.

Nearly 615,000 tonnes of material that currently finds its way to landfill or incineration could instead be repaired, resold or donated. As well as the social and environmental benefits there is a strong economic business case to do this too: Diverting 615,000 tonnes of material away from landfill or incineration would save the tax payer more than £60 million each year. The estimated resale value of these goods, and those recycled which could be re-used is approx £375 million! (

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