Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 10:54 UK

Whitechapel market cuts rubbish

Market stall in Whitechapel
Whitechapel market is one of London's busiest

An ambitious new recycling drive at one of London's busiest markets will cut rubbish by up to 88%.

Tower Hamlets Council in east London has set up the scheme to allow traders at Whitechapel market to divert food waste, cardboard and other packaging.

A spokeswoman for the council said traders have embraced the new bin and frequent collection plan.

One trader told the BBC that the market is already noticeably tidier after a three-month pilot project.

Atiqur Rahman, a fruit and vegetable stall trader at Whitechapel for more than 21 years, said dedicated bins for organic waste and packaging are making a big difference.

"The floor is much cleaner, there used to be a lot of rubbish lying around and other businesses and people in flats used our bins for their rubbish," he said of the situation before the new bins were delivered.

Markets by their very nature can create a lot of waste, when you take into account things like packaging and food products with a relatively short shelf life
Abdal Ullah, Tower Hamlets councillor

The new bins provided by Tower Hamlets council require the traders to separate their organic waste into green bins, which take everything from rotting vegetables to fish heads and are collected twice a day.

The separate bins for both organics and dry recyclables, such as cardboard, plastic bags and polystyrene, are fitted with locks to prevent others in the area from using them overnight and contaminating the contents that are destined for recycling rather than landfill.

The new bins will allow about 9 tonnes of organic waste and 9.5 tonnes of dry recycling to be diverted each week, which represents an 88% increase on the levels before the new scheme was first trialled three months ago.

Trader Mr Rahman said that while he always tried to avoid putting organic waste in rubbish bins, it was sometimes unavoidable.

"With my father I used to take organic stuff home and my mum used it in the garden for her compost," he said.

Local councillor Abdal Ullah said traders at the colourful market, which houses about 80 stalls, have fully backed the new plan.

"Markets by their very nature can create a lot of waste, when you take into account things like packaging and food products with a relatively short shelf life.

We have introduced a number of new ways that all this can be recycled and we are very excited that none of the market waste will be sent to landfill."


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