It doesn’t take too much of a genius to spot a correlation in which boroughs perform well and which do not. The two biggest deciding factors seem to be geography and demographics. In short, affluent, suburban boroughs tend to have higher recycling rates than more impoverished inner London boroughs.
In fact, the difference is so profound, that of all 32 local authority areas, the top 12 best performing are all outer London boroughs. The highest performing inner London boroughs are Southwark, at 13th on the list, Greenwich at 15th and the City of London at a fairly embarrassing 20th. This is less a commentary on the types of politicians that are likely to run affluent, suburban councils and more a fairly simple conflict of priorities for those living within them.
The truth is, recycling is not exactly at the top of the priority list for people on low incomes with high rents, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet in one of the world’s most expensive cities. And when you combine that with the fact that a growing number of people in London’s densest boroughs live in multiple occupancy buildings, where waste clearance policies are dictated by what facilities are available, there’s plenty of understandable reasons why this is the case.
It’s no coincidence that London’s worst recycling borough, Newham, also has the highest child poverty rates of any single borough in the country. Closely followed by Barking and Dagenham at 7th and Lewisham at 11th – it’s clear where the correlation lies.
That being said, it’s still not acceptable. Furthermore, what are the businesses in these areas doing to improve recycling rates of their own and support their communities? If residents in these boroughs are struggling to prioritise recycling it just makes it twice as important for the local councillors and politicians to make it easy for people to recycle and educate their citizens on why it’s important.