Mayor’s business waste strategy ‘rubbish for SMEs’

The strategy, entitled ‘Making business sense of waste’, was published on November 18 (see letsrecycle.com story). It aims to tackle London’s increasing problem of business waste, both from the commercial and industrial (C&I) and construction, demolition and excavation (CDE) industries.

Murad Qureshi claims that former Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone's business waste strategy included more actions for councils
Murad Qureshi claims that former Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone’s business waste strategy included more actions for councils

But, Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi said: “It fails to effectively link the waste stream from small business to the infrastructure which already exists for household recycling.

“The strategy should do much more to enable small and medium sized businesses with fewer resources to access suitable waste and recycling services in their local area,” he added.

Strategy

In the strategy the Mayor states that he will help businesses, of any size, to overcome the practical issues surrounding waste separation to encourage recycling, but the strategy does not spell out how this will be achieved.

It states: “The Mayor’s actions are, therefore, focused around helping businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to access reuse, recycling and composting collections or entering into collective contracting for these services.”

However the strategy does recognise that access to these services is a problem, particularly for SMEs. Quoting research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) the strategy states that there is an “appetite among smaller businesses for waste minimisation and recycling activities” but that due the economies of scale many are unable to take advantage of waste and recycling contracts.

Now, Mr Qureshi is calling for small businesses to be allowed access to household waste and recycling centres in their areas as this could be implemented quickly and would provide the businesses with greater access to these services.

Councils have been reluctant in the past to offer waste services to businesses because under the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, they have had to send a decreasing amount of waste to landfill each year or face financial penalties. However, under the Government’s Review of Waste Policy in England 2011 the government is proposing to abolish LATS from 2013.

Mr Qureshi stated that on average only 18% of businesses benefit from local authority waste collections and it is often considerably less. For example, he said that in Hounslow less than 3% of businesses benefit from council waste collections, while the boroughs of Brent and Kingston currently offered no commercial waste collection service at all.

Commitment

Last month the government launched a ‘Local Authority Business Recycling and Waste Collection Commitment’ to set out best practice principles for local authorities running trade waste services (see letsrecycle.com story). It is a voluntary commitment that aims to improve businesses’ access to waste and recycling collections.

The scheme includes a pledge to provide reliable and regular services and to provide businesses, in particular SMEs, with advice on waste prevention, the reuse of goods and how they can access household waste recycling sites.