Reducing GHG Emissions Through Sustainable Waste Management: Lessons From The C40 City London
In line with the United Kingdom government’s goals to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 80 % by 2050 compared to 1990, the Mayor of London signed the C40 Cities Zero Waste Declaration in 2018, an initiative run by the global C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40). By doing so he pledges for the British capital to becoming a resource-efficient city by 2050.
Each year London’s homes, public buildings and businesses produce around 7 million tonnes of waste, of which only 41 % is currently recycled and 54 % sent to landfill or incineration (Greater London Authority, 2018a). The London Environmental Strategy, published in 2018, outlines the city’s policy and implementation actions to take in order to turn London into a zero waste city. Thereby, London seeks to shift from landfill and incineration to increasing recycling rates – for example by sending no biodegradable or recyclable waste to landfill by 2026 and recycling 65 % of London’s municipal waste by 2030 (Greater London Authority, 2018a). By working closely with stakeholders – including the government, businesses, NGOs and individuals – to promoting resource efficiency and a circular economy, the initiative offers London the opportunity to become a sustainable, zero waste economy and take a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The afo- rementioned measures for the waste sector set out in the London Environmental Strategy seek to achieve concrete emission performance standards: 101,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent saved in 2021, 169,000 tonnes in 2025 and 535,000 tonnes in 2031 (based on a 2015/16 baseline) (Greater London Authority, 2018a).
London‘s commitments to reducing waste and improving waste management can be considered a good practice as a result of strong political buy-in, the alignment with national frameworks and policies as well as the innovative approaches used to involving stakeholders. The city´s efforts furthermore show that a comprehensive waste management strategy should be seen as instrumental to reduce GHG emissions and to mitigate climate change.