North London Waste Authority Presentation
- Meeting of Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee, Monday, 20th February, 2023 7.30 pm (Item 85.)
The committee received a presentation from Martin Capstick, Managing Director of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) on the NLWA Progress Update. The following key points were raised in the discussion:
· Islington was the smallest borough of the NLWA in size and waste disposal.
· From a Green Peace survey, it was found North London residents were using 46 million pieces of plastic a week. The NLWA were investigating how to raise further awareness of this.
· London Energy were making large profits from the electricity generated from incinerated waste, this was going to the public sector, and they wanted to allow boroughs to use this money.
· Infrastructural issues occurred with compulsory food waste collection from 2025.
· The new NLWA facility had allowed for a separate space and air control for furniture that cannot be recycled due to chemicals in it. This had negated issues of contamination so all other waste could be recycled and disposed of correctly.
· The NLWA were keen to highlight to Government that more can be done to reach sustainable outcomes. Progress on single use plastics while slow does highlight this can be done.
· Due to levelling up policy and the treasury it was likely North London will lose £20 million in taxes on energy.
· The NLWA were engaging with other emitters who were seeing carbon capture as part of future plans to help find a solution for London as a whole. Members had previously approved awarding of contract of advisors to investigate technical solution for a planning application to install carbon capture equipment.
· Over concerns of increases in waste criminals, Martin reassured all waste was managed under contract with major companies and they traced the end disposal route, so it had gone to the correct place.
· Concerns arose over food waste, in which the NLWA gave example of trails in Hackney that gave residents of above shop flats/estates/flat blocks a key fob to access bins, so passers-by could not misuse these. As well as a view to have more public open bins to reduce misuse of food waste bins. The NLWA were working on a campaign to raise high level awareness of general ways to properly dispose of food waste as opposed to niche topics that could confuse the public. They aimed to make things clearer and easier to understand.
· Mr Capstick assured the workforce on site target was 25% and employment within this had included specialist roles and they had been working to build skills and use apprentices. They aimed to be more proactive at helping Islington residents with apprenticeship opportunities and advertising this more widely across North London, not just Enfield.
· Mr Capstick explained that the fatality of a NLWA worker had led to reviews of all areas of work and stronger risk assessments, a report was being produced into the events that occurred and lessons learned from this.
· There had been a lack of support from Government on initiatives to reduce waste such as ‘save our stuff’. While the Local Authority were trying to drive reuse and recycle schemes a better framework from the Government was needed for this to happen.
· Mr Capstick explained it was difficult for waste disposal and recycling plants to be 100% publicly owned due to the way in which facilities had evolved and the specialist equipment used. Companies such as Biffa had a monopoly on this and due to strong market connections got better value for money than would be possible for an individual authority.
· From queries arising from the public, Mr Capstick explained a joint waste strategy was being worked on, but they still were waiting for a conclusion on government reforms. It was not commercially viable to implement advanced sorting of recycled materials, this still would not result in net zero carbon. He further explained incineration and carbon capture were the lowest net carbon way to deal with waste. Wrapping plastic was a difficult waste product to process, as plastics such as sweet wrappers were made up of multiple materials which got mixed and produced lower quality recyclates. Finally, it was explained that the slogan on London Energy Vehicles was not an incentive to encourage waste but more to advertise incineration methods could help produce energy and electricity.
That the report be noted