Calls for Mayor of London to ‘facilitate use and construction’ of AD facilities

The London Assembly’s Environment Committee has published a new report looking at waste and recycling in the British capital.

Among its recommendations, the report calls on the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to ‘facilitate the use, and if necessary the construction of anaerobic digestion facilities’. It also finds that burning waste to recover energy is not preferable to recycling or anaerobic digestion.

The report notes that Khan has pledged London should send zero waste to landfill by 2030, but household recycling rates have remained ‘relatively unchanged’ for the last five years.

Chaired by London Assembly member Leonie Cooper, the Environment Committee reviews the Mayor of London’s strategies on air quality, water, waste, climate change and energy.


“More stick than carrot”

A major focus of the report is the city’s recycling rates. It observes that huge quantities of recyclable waste are going to residual waste streams. For this reason, the Committee argues that collections of residual waste in the city should be reduced to encourage more recycling.

Although acknowledging that burning waste for heat and power is preferable to landfill, the report reasons that the emissions from energy from waste facilities mean they should still be close to the bottom of the ‘waste hierarchy’.

“It will not be good enough if waste that was previously sent to landfill is simply sent to incineration instead,” the Wasting London’s Future report states. “The residual waste stream must shrink in size, through waste reduction, reuse and recycling, and not just be redirected.”

Again, the report advocates AD as a better solution. “Anaerobic digestion has more benefits and reduced environmental impact,” the report states.

Gasification and pyrolysis are also highlighted as viable options for reducing incineration. “Gasification and pyrolysis are more advanced thermal treatments than incineration which offer high efficiency. Both processes turn food waste and residual waste into an energy source.”


Industry responds

 The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), the trade association for the UK’s AD industry, welcomed the report.

“Separate food waste collections are essential if London is to increase its recycling rates to 65% and send zero waste to landfill by 2030, and they would also allow London’s inedible food waste to be recycled through AD into renewable heat and power, clean transport fuel for buses and HGVs, and nutrient-rich biofertiliser that can help restore the UK’s soils,” ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton told Bioenergy Insight.


This article was written by Daryl Worthington, editor of Bioenergy Insight

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