Now is your chance to share your thoughts on how our waste should be managed.

Until September 15, the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is running a short online survey entitled ‘Towards a low waste north London’.

NLWA, which has been operating without a strategy since 2020, says the survey will allow people to ‘co-design’ a new strategy for the seven north London boroughs, with the main goal of ‘promoting the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle as part of a circular economy’ while delivering ‘a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future’.

These aims may sound encouraging, especially since north London’s recycling rate (28.4% in 2021/22) falls far short of the target, while more than half of the materials sent for incineration in Edmonton are recyclable. An effective strategy could help north London play its part in greening waste management.

So why have campaigners called the survey a ‘disingenuous box-ticking exercise’? The short answer is that it makes no mention of the two key obstacles to a more circular economy.

One obstacle is NLWA’s failure — to date — to install a sorting facility to extract recyclables (including food and other compostable materials) from the incineration stream. Doing so would slash CO2 emissions, boost the recycling rate, dramatically reduce the amount of truly non-recyclable waste and drive down costs for council taxpayers.

Ham & High: Bin lorry with recycling tipsBin lorry with recycling tips (Image: Tania Inowlocki)

The other obstacle is the construction of a new incinerator in Edmonton.

As confirmed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, London already has enough waste incineration capacity without an incinerator in Edmonton.

By building this plant, NLWA would lock residents into a hugely expensive throw-it-away waste system for decades to come.

As the world boils, the incinerator would emit as much CO2 as 250,000 additional diesel cars on the roads. And it would pump endocrine-disrupting ultrafine particulates into the air in one of the UK’s most deprived areas, entrenching environmental racism and undermining ULEZ benefits.

Hackney Council is preparing to scrutinise the incinerator plans; survey respondents can encourage other councils to do likewise.

The good news is that respondents can raise these and other concerns in answers to the survey’s open-ended questions.

We encourage everyone to take this opportunity. Useful step-by-step suggestions are available from the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now coalition: