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Recycling rate drop in Haringey blamed on pandemic

Haringey households recycled just over 30% of their waste last year, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Recycling bins outside a block of flats in Tottenham

Haringey’s recycling rate has fallen year-on-year and remains significantly below the council’s target.

The borough’s recycling rate was 30.4% in 2021/22 – down from 31.18% during the previous year and below the 38% figure the council had aimed to achieve.

Despite the drop in performance, the local authority is continuing to work towards achieving 50% recycling rates and to be “London’s number one borough for recycling”.

The figures were set out in a report presented to a meeting of the council’s environment and community safety scrutiny panel on Thursday.

Beth Waltzer, the council’s head of waste, said one of the main reasons for the decline had been a “downturn in our tonnage contribution from NLWA [North London Waste Authority]” made up from Western Road Reuse and Recycling Centre, along with a drop in “wood tonnages”.

She explained that a lot of the wood collected could not be recycled easily, so a high proportion had to go to biomass, and there had also been an increase in “contaminated” recycling – loads containing dirty or non-recyclable materials.

The report states that the 2020/21 dry recycling level was higher than average because people were working from home during the Covid-19 lockdowns, with the figure subsequently returning closer to pre-Covid levels.

Beth told the meeting that contract monitoring showed street cleansing had improved year-on-year, with lower levels of litter and detritus on the borough’s streets – although graffiti and flyposting increased slightly.

The council has set itself a target of achieving 50% recycling rates “in line with the Mayor of London’s target for 2030” and pledged to work with residents and businesses to reach the goal.

Earlier this year, it surveyed residents to gauge their views on waste and cleansing services – including proposals to collect general waste once every three weeks.

Under questioning from panel members, Seema Chandwani, the council’s cabinet member for tackling inequality and resident services, revealed the waste survey had gained a record 9,000 responses.

Cllr Chandwani said the results needed to be analysed and were unlikely to be published soon because the survey was carried out to help the council design the next waste contract, set to run from 2025.