Open cardboard box full of polystyrene bricks
Published date: 30 June 2022

NLWA’s year of recycling innovation to help stem the Climate Emergency

The first to recycle polystyrene, £100 million of new recycling facilities nearing completion, and recycling more than 67,000 mattresses in just eight months, are just three major achievements by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) in 2021-22, which were acknowledged at its recent AGM.

A democratic organisation made up of councillors who have been recently elected by residents across seven north London boroughs, NLWA works to reduce rubbish, increase recycling, and deal with the waste of two million residents in the most environmentally sustainable way possible whilst providing the best value for money for council tax payers. 

With household recycling rates plateauing across the country in recent years, due in part to a lack of legislation for local authorities to enforce it, NLWA has been innovating to ensure more items, particularly those that are tricky-to-recycle, can now be recycled in north London.

In June 2021, NLWA began to recycle the mountains of mattresses thrown out or fly-tipped every year. In just eight months, 67,058 mattresses were recycled, saving 1,527 tonnes of reusable resources including steel, cotton, and polyester for the circular economy.

Likewise, NLWA became London's first waste authority to recycle polystyrene at its eight Reuse and Recycling Centres. Polystyrene can be compacted and reinvented into insulation panels for buildings, picture frames, and toys. To encourage vital waste prevention at the grassroots, NLWA is doubling its grants for community groups to run projects for residents such as skills in electrical repair.

At a policy level, NLWA publicly called for a charge on disposable coffee cups and lids, bans on more single-use plastics, the introduction of compulsory recycling as well as reinstating the 2023 start for Extended Producer Responsibility legislation and extending it to nappies, wet wipes, and carpets.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA said: “From taking the initiative to recycle mattresses and polystyrene to calling on the Government to ban more single-use plastics and give councils the powers they need to enforce recycling, NLWA is driving the transition to a circular economy. We’ve also doubled the funding to community groups to foster grassroots waste prevention.

“Meanwhile, the redevelopment of the Edmonton EcoPark into a sustainable recycling and waste management hub continues apace. The project is bringing once-in-a-generation opportunities for local and young people to gain skills on a world-class, sustainable infrastructure project.”

Other NLWA achievements for 2021-22 include:

  • Nearing completion on constructing the £100 million recycling facilities at Edmonton EcoPark. The roof will soon be covered with 1865 solar panels.
  • The first-ever use in the UK of ultra-low carbon concrete on a temporary facility at Edmonton EcoPark, reducing the carbon impact by 70%. It was built with 5,000 tonnes of recycled or demolished material.
  • Awarding the contract to replace the 50-year-old energy-from-waste facility at Edmonton EcoPark to infrastructure and renewable energy developer ACCIONA.
  • 20 apprentices on the project so far with a further 90 opportunities now ACCIONA on board.
  • On-site training placements have helped 132 local people gain construction skills certificates more than halfway towards the target of 225 people.

Following local elections in May, four new members have been appointed by their boroughs to NLWA. Barnet has appointed Cllr Alan Schneiderman and Cllr Geof Cooke, Enfield has appointed Cllr Nelly Gyosheva, and Islington has appointed Cllr Diarmaid Ward. Cllr Clyde Loakes was elected as Chair while Cllr Rowena Champion (Islington) and Cllr Mete Coban (Hackney) were appointed as deputy Chairs.

Cllr Loakes welcomed the new members and thanked outgoing members, Peter Zinkin, Dean Cohen, Hass Yusuf, and Satnam Gill OBE for their dedicated service.

You can find our annual report for 2021/22 in full here.