Southwark Lib Dems have slammed the Labour-run council after new data revealed recycling rates fell by 3.4 per cent between 2022 and 2023.
Deputy Leader for the group Cllr Rachel Bentley branded the council’s performance “pitiful” and urged residents to sign a petition demanding action.
In response, Southwark Council said it had “the highest recycling rate among inner London councils”.
It blamed the decline on “national issues” such as the cost-of-living crisis which had led to “reduced household waste volumes” overall, rubbish contamination and fly-tipping.
The statistics from DEFRA do suggest Southwark’s downward trend is long-term with recycling rates falling by 5.4 per cent since 2014/15.
Southwark Council pledged to reach a recycling rate of 40 per cent by 2025.
The Lib Dems now say the council is likely to miss the “unambitious” target it set for itself.
Cllr Rachel Bentley said: “These pitiful recycling rates along with the flytipping and litter that plague Southwark’s streets and estates make it clear that the council’s waste management needs major improvement.”
The group has put forward numerous proposals in a bid to tackle street litter and fly-tipping thereby incentivising recycling.
These include removing the bulky waste collection charge, creating a fly-tipping taskforce and increasing the number of public bins.
Southwark Council has however met its targets for recycling waste collection – fewer than 50 missed collections per 100,000 – every quarter this year.
Councillor James McAsh, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency, Clean Air and Streets, said: “Southwark residents can be proud that we continue to have the highest recycling rate among inner London councils.
“However, like other London boroughs, we have seen a decline due to national issues, such as the ongoing cost of living crisis, leading to reduced household waste volumes and increased contamination and fly-tipping.
“Despite these challenges, we’re implementing measures to enhance the rate, including plans to expand food waste collections to all properties and increase recycling capacity on estates. These efforts have already boosted rates, and with residents’ support, we aim to further improve.”