North London Waste Authority celebrates ground-breaking year at AGM

24 Jun 2021

Today North London Waste Authority (NLWA) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) where it celebrated major successes in waste prevention, reuse and recycling, in a year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

NLWA successfully maintained essential waste services throughout the year, and ensured that the nationally significant North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP) stayed safely on track.

As well as protecting public health during the pandemic, NLWA took pioneering action to tackle the Climate Emergency. In the past year alone, £60,000 in funding was awarded to innovative local campaigns through the Authority’s Waste Prevention Community Fund, 1,000 tonnes of nappy waste was avoided as a result of NLWA’s reusable nappy scheme, and major progress was made to build brand new public recycling facilities as part of the NLHPP. 

The AGM coincides with further action by NLWA to boost recycling locally and nationally. NLWA announced on Tuesday a trial of mattress recycling in north London. This significant investment in the circular economy will extend the life of valuable materials, including steel, cotton and polyesters. Mattresses are notoriously difficult to recycle, and to overcome this challenge NLWA is bringing to bear its scale, expertise and skilled delivery to provide a pioneering service for residents. This scheme alone is expected to recycle 700 mattresses a week, that’s 17 tonnes a week, across north London.

At a national level, NLWA has again put pressure on Government to speed up and improve its proposals for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and make recycling compulsory. This came as part of NLWA’s response to the Government’s recent consultation. NLWA is demanding again that Government steps up to make the systemic change that is so desperately needed to protect the environment. 

At the AGM Councillor Loakes, Chair of NLWA, set out the compelling advantages of building the North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP). The project, which is backed by north London’s seven boroughs, is a crucial part of NLWA’s overall plan to manage residents’ waste in an environmentally responsible way. The NLHPP is London’s most significant public sector investment in recycling and waste management infrastructure for decades. Councillor Loakes provided clear and factual information about the project to clarify some misleading and inaccurate claims that were made by individual groups at the start of the meeting.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA, said:

“Time is running out to reverse climate change, and I’m proud to lead an organisation that’s taking bold action now to protect the planet. Our measures in north London are a benchmark for others to follow. We’re empowering communities to do the right thing and reduce their waste and recycle more. And we’re rising to the challenges of the future by building major new recycling and waste management infrastructure for our 2 million residents. Our responsible long-term planning means none of our residents’ waste will end up rotting in landfill – a vital precondition for Net Zero carbon emissions. 

“Our local action is twinned with a determined focus on national policy. We are pressing the Government to avoid further delays that are literally costing the earth – we need extended producer responsibility now, and we need compulsory recycling now.”

Councillor Loakes noted that work has now begun on a flagship Resource Recovery Facility (RRF) at the Edmonton EcoPark, which will provide capacity to recycle around 135,000 tonnes of material every year. This includes thousands of tonnes of metal, wood and plastic that would otherwise be sent to landfill. A public Reuse and Recycling Centre is also being built at the site, which will provide the first ever opportunity for residents to recycle their waste at the Edmonton EcoPark. This is alongside a new educational facility, EcoPark House, which will enable schools and local community groups to learn about the circular economy values of reducing, reusing and recycling their waste.

16 apprentices, the majority from Enfield, have already been appointed to help build the facilities. The lifechanging roles cover construction, engineering and business administration. The apprentices are joined by 52 trainees, who have gained vital skills to support a future career in construction. NLWA is proud that the project will create at least 100 apprenticeships and 225 training opportunities throughout the build phase, along with highly-skilled long-term jobs in the completed facilities.

The NLHPP will provide a responsible solution for waste that isn’t recycled by residents. A world-class Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) is being built to replace the existing plant, which is Europe’s oldest. The new facility will be the most advanced in the UK and use non-recyclable waste to generate low-carbon heat and power for local homes and businesses. The ERF was shortlisted in May 2021 by the Future Cities Forum for its ‘Net Zero sustainable cities’ award, in recognition of the facility’s energy innovation and commitment to community outreach. The ERF is a long-term strategic asset which deals responsibly with future uncertainties around residual waste and recycling volumes.

Rapid progress is being made to build the new facilities, and NLWA was proud to report this week that, to date, the construction of the project has exceeded its environmental targets by diverting 99.9% of non-hazardous construction, demolition, and excavation waste from landfill through reuse, recycling, and recovery.