London "Dirty Man Of Europe"

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 105 months ago
London "Dirty Man Of Europe"

London_recycling6Oct09.jpg A new report says London dumps the most rubbish of any major city in Europe (which comes as no surprise to us). The Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling looked at waste management across the EU and found that we chuck 52% of our crap into landfill.

Though we compare quite well on recycling (22%) to, say, Paris (19%) and Lisbon (10%), we incinerate far less than our continental neighbours. Copenhagen, yet again polishing Denmark's credentials for high standards of living, sends just 1% of its rubbish to landfill, using less than we do to start with and recycling or burning the rest to create energy. (We're moving towards that model, but it's still controversial with environmental groups.) Other cities even get better bin collections than we do. Bucharest has collections twice a day in the height of their (admittedly much hotter) summer, falling to a still impressive twice a week in winter.

Councils will have to pay £48 per tonne of landfill waste from 2010-11 so we can expect an improvement. But our recycling facilities are still a mess, and when different councils have different policies about what they'll take that it's no wonder some people just give up. We, for example, have a knackered blender and printer sitting at home that we have no idea what to do with. (Any tips for a Lewisham resident?) (Photo by thingermejig from the Londonist Flickr pool)

Last Updated 06 October 2009


Some broken stuff just needs to be thrown away.

What we need are policies that penalise us for buying cheap shit and encourage us to buy fewer, better things and get them repaired when they break.


Since according to ESPON (the European Union's spatial planning and urban statistics unit) we're at least 2.5 times the size of ANY other EU city apart from Greater Paris, wouldn't it be obvious we'd dump the most rubbish?

This would be more telling if it showed how much disposal per capita, rather than per city.

In the mid-60's my parents had a summer house in Holland in the mid-60's and were required to split our rubbish into four types for collection and recycling. When's Britain going to catch up with what Holland was doing nearly 50 years ago?


They did do a nice per capita comparison between us and Copenhagen (guess who won), and I think they went with percentages for how the cities disposed of their rubbish rather than amounts in an attempt to make it fairer.


We, for example, have a knackered blender and printer sitting at home that we have no idea what to do with.
You could try the lovely people at Emmaus: there are branches in Greenwich and West Norwood:


I've found new homes for broken printers through Freecycle before. Someone out there will want to tinker with it.


Lambeth have a fantastic recycling centre where you can take practically *anything* - old, broken electrical goods, dirty rags / clothes that you could never donate to a charity shop, bits of wood / plastics, batteries, cooking oil, paint, plus all the usual recyclables.

Only problem is... it's in Norwood, and almost impossible to get to without a car.

Most electrical goods can be recycled... at least in part. Old printer cartridges can be sent back to the manufacturer, I've also got BT to take back their BT Broadband router for recycling and HP to take back a duff laptop charger. Just mention WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) - a great EU invention which forces electrical manufacturers to provide facilities for safe disposal / recycling of electrical gear. Most will either send you a freepost envelope / box, or give you details of a facility where you can take it to.


What I always find surprising is that London councils will charge quite a bit to take away something basic, e.g. a few bags of garden waste, but will let you dump it at the tip for free. It encourages people to own a car and make more trips to the dump. Surely it's more green to let the council do the rounds?


we all need to do our share of responsibilities as citizens, not only in our hometown, but also to other places we go.