Labour councillors are calling on Barnet Council to suspend plans to stop separate food waste collections while City Hall investigates the Council's decision.
The cessation of separate food waste collections means Barnet Council will no longer be in general conformity with the Mayor of London's Environment Strategy. Local blogger, John Dix, reports that the Mayor of London wrote to Conservative Council Leader, Richard Cornelius, on 19th June informing him of this, and asking for the decision to be put on hold.
The Council's proposal to stop separate food waste collections was an unexpected last minute policy change forced through by the Conservative administration at the Environment Committee on 5 June.
The proposal reverses the Council's original plans, agreed in November, to save money by "making it easier to recycle food waste and compulsory recycling of dry and food waste (enforced by fixed penalty notices)". These plans to encourage more recycling of food waste were part of a package of measures to "change resident behaviours and drive up recycling rates in order to reduce collection and disposal costs". According to the November Environment Committee report the total package of measures would save £900,000. An additional £400,000 would also be saved on the North London Waste Authority Levy from reduced waste disposal tonnages.
The Council have admitted that stopping separate food waste collections will reduce the overall recycling rate and add 5,000 tonnes a year to general waste disposal at £89.17 per tonne - adding £445,850 to the NLWA levy. Food waste collected separately costs only £31.39 per tonne to dispose of through anaerobic digestion.
Incinerating food waste by including it in general waste collections is worse for the environment than the anaerobic digestion process that is currently used, and generates more harmful emissions.
The Council claims that a saving of £300,000 will be made from redeploying staff from collecting food waste to green waste collections to reduce agency staff costs.
Barnet Council currently recycles about 37% of all waste, with a target to recycle 50% by 2020.
Labour's Environment Spokesperson, Cllr Alan Schneiderman said:
"Before the election the Tories said that they would make it easier to recycle food waste and just weeks after the election they are planning to scrap separate food waste collections.
"This Tory plan is bad for the environment, will cut the council's recycling rate and will actually increase waste disposal costs. It's good news that the Mayor of London has called for this rubbish plan to be suspended."