Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 12:26 UK

London 'the dirty man of Europe'

Bin man in Fulham, south London
London sees fewer collections than Paris, Lisbon or Bucharest

London has been dubbed the "dirty man of Europe" because it has fewer bin collections than any other city, a report claims.

Weekly collections in London compare to a twice-weekly service in Bucharest, and a daily collection in Paris.

The report, by the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling (ACR+), shows half of London's rubbish goes to landfill. Copenhagen's figure is 1%.

London puts 2.2m tonnes of rubbish into landfill, more than any city in Europe.

The figure is so high partly because the UK is yet to widely incinerate rubbish, using the heat to produce electricity, said report author Kit Stranger of ACR+, an international network intended to help spread recycling expertise.

A mega-city like London would find it difficult to recycle more than 50%
Kit Stranger, report author

Not only is it a green way to produce energy, but it prevents methane - a far more damaging greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide - being released from landfills.

Most western European cities burn between 60% and 80% of their rubbish.

Mr Stranger said: "We can do more for recycling.

"But the trouble is the higher the population of a city the harder it is to get that extra few percentages [of recycling] out of rubbish bins."

Almost a quarter of London's rubbish is currently recycled, more than Paris (19%) or Lisbon (10%).

The government's target is for 45% of waste to be recycled by 2015.

But Mr Stranger added: "A mega-city like London would find it difficult to recycle more than 50%.

"The 45% target by 2015 is going to be challenging.

"The question is how we're going to get up there."

A spokesman for London Councils, the local authorities body in charge of London's waste strategy, said: "While the UK as a whole is behind several other European countries when it comes to recycling, as a region, London is one of the strongest areas in the country at diverting waste from landfill.

"Boroughs have introduced various measures from building local recycling facilities, through to providing residents with composters or wormeries to help reduce their food waste."

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