Merton Council Sets Lower Bar for Recycling

Borough has failed to meet targets for over two years

Merton Council recycling bins
Merton Council recycling bins. Picture: Twitter/Merton Council

June 29, 2021

Merton Council has lowered its recycling target after failing to meet it for more than two years.

Merton Council has now reduced it recycling target to 40 per cent, down from 45 to 48 per cent, after repeatedly failing to hit the original target.

Forty-two per cent of waste was recycled or composted in May, slightly up from the 39 per cent reported in February.

It raises questions about whether the council will be able to meet ambitions of recycling 50 per cent of waste in the coming years, and a national target of 60 per cent by 2030.

Although the latest documents show that the council missed the target in May, Chris Lee, director of environment and regeneration, said that the target was reduced to 40 per cent this year.

At a council meeting on Thursday night (24 June) Mr Lee said, “Unfortunately the tables don’t reflect the amended target, the target for this year is actually 40 per cent, reflecting the reality.

“Whilst we are ambitious and aiming for a higher target we can’t ignore the reality of the recycling levels we are achieving in the borough.

“So it has actually achieved the target and gone beyond it this month and the last two months.”

But Councillor David Dean accused council officers in the authority’s ruling Labour party of putting out propaganda through the council’s communications team.

He said, “Council officers within the communications department have been communicating that a target of at least 50 per cent will be hit when clearly that is just propaganda by Labour politicians.”

Mr Lee hit back, saying that recycling rates had been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said, “I am not aware of any propaganda, we are working hard to achieve the highest possible performance around recycling and it is clear the wheelie bins have contributed quite significantly to this.

“One area that has affected it quite significantly over the past 15 months is that more people have been working from home more waste has been generated and more non-recyclable waste has been generated and has affected the proportion of waste that has been recycled.”

Merton is part of the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) which also includes Sutton, Croydon and Kingston councils.

The service is managed by Veolia and 86 per cent of the recycling and rubbish generated across the boroughs is treated or reprocessed in the UK while the remaining 14 per cent is sent abroad.

Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter