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Mayor threatens Barnet with intervention over end of food waste collections

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London mayor Sadiq Khan (Lab) vowed to use his powers to block Barnet LBC’s proposal to stop separate household food waste collections.

Barnet wants to scrap the collections as part of a drive to save £1m in its street scene services in 2018-19, LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World has reported.

According to the council’s environment committee: “The current additional cost of the separate weekly collections of food waste above that of the recycling collections is £300,000 a year for around 5,000 tonnes of food waste, equating to £60 for each tonne collected.”

Its proposal is for food waste to be put in the residual waste stream, which is treated via energy from waste rather than landfill.

But the move is directly at odds with the London Environment Strategy published by the London mayor in May. This states that a minimum level of service to households should include “separate food waste collections, including from flats where practical and cost effective” by 2025 in order to achieve an overall 50% recycling rate.

When Mr Khan was asked by Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell to respond to Barnet’s proposal, he said the Greater London Authority Act empowered him to direct boroughs to implement his strategy’s municipal waste provisions. It also required authorities to act in “general conformity” with the document.

“The use of my power of direction is clearly an option of last resort, once all other avenues have been explored and exhausted,” he said.

Khan said he wrote to Barnet leader Richard Cornelius (Con) in June, “expressing my deep concern at their decision and requesting that it is put on hold”. He added: “This will enable my officers to now start the process required of us under the GLA Act.”

According to the mayor, his strategy and waste policies were developed “following an unprecedented process of evidence gathering, analysis, stakeholder consultation and dialogue”. He said Barnet did not respond with regard to food waste collection.

According to Barnet, despite efforts to promote separate food collections and ongoing communications, uptake from the public was low, with only 25-30% of residents participating on a weekly basis and tonnages static.

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