Waste and recycling was one of our key campaigns in Spring 2011. The Government committed in the Coalition agreement to work towards a zero waste economy. Our campaign pushed for ambitious goals to be included in the government’s Waste Review, in May 2011, to reduce the amount of waste we bury and burn.

Our ask is for the government to aim to halve household ‘black bag’ waste by 2020. This is equivalent to recycling 70% of our waste at current rates of waste generation, but we can meet this goal through more waste prevention and reuse as well as increasing recycling. We’re asking for a similar ambition for business waste.

Benefits of setting this goal include:

  • Reduction of climate change emissions
  • Reduction of our use of scarce resources
  • Creation of tens of thousands of jobs
  • Cheaper in the long term – councils have to spend less on expensive incineration or landfill
  • Fewer residual waste treatment plants required.

For more information see the Waste Review briefing. Camden FoE held a a Day of Action on March 19 2011 to promote the Waste and Recycling campaign with a photocall at Camden Lock, asking David Cameron to talk half as much rubbish.

We also responded to the North London Waste Plan consultation in July 2011.


Camden FOE’s Waste sub-group has previously focussed on reducing plastic waste. Together with Camden Climate Action Network (CAN) we campaigned against the use of bottled water, and ran a local plastic bag campaign.

Say no to throw out shopping bags

The use of throw out shopping bags is a sign of society’s willingness to ignore the impact of its consumer society on the sustainability of the planet.

Bags use finite resources in their manufacture and, on disposal, often after only one use, they create litter, add to the UK’s landfill problems, and endanger wildlife on land and in water.

We believe that action on these bags is necessary to reduce waste and save resources and support the introduction of a London-wide levy on throw-out shopping bags as proposed in London Councils’ recent consultation.

Guerrilla Bagging

Camden FOE’s guerrilla bagging campaign encouraged people to reuse bags. We used material from unwanted clothes, curtains and linen to make bags and then give them out to local shoppers.

Unfortunately we can’t make people never use plastic bags again, but we did get people thinking about why they should avoid using them. Our guerilla bagging campaign was featured on BBC Breakfast:

Our group, “PlasticFOEbia” is just one of many across the UK and beyond. Find out more at www.morsbags.com and let us know if you’re interested in joining our campaign or taking part in a bag-making workshop.

Bag Free Belsize

As part of our campaign on waste, members of Camden Friends of the Earth interviewed people on the streets of Belsize Park regarding their views on throw-away shopping bags. Shoppers were asked whether they supported the idea of Belsize Park going “Bag Free” and how they think this should be achieved.

The majority of shoppers supported measures to reduce the use of plastic bags, and wanted this to be carried out by a combination of charging a levy and an area to drop-off and collect old bags.

Following on from our interviews, Transition Belsize has now introduced “Pennies for Plastic”, a voluntary plastic bag ban, with local retailers in Belsize Park encouraging customers not to take free plastic bags in their shops, and a fabric alternative, the Belsize Bag, on sale.