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Tackling the smell from the Waste and Recycling Centre

What happens in the Waste Recycling Centre (WRC)

The WRC is a 24-hour facility in Islington that:

  • manages the transfer of waste
  • operates a Reuse and Recycling Centre
  • undertakes the Councils statutory operations and
  • provides accommodation for Council staff

Who operates out of the WRC and why?

Waste transfer operations are run by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) and London Energy who provide sustainable energy, recycling and resource management on behalf of seven London Boroughs.

These operations and the management of the WRC building can occasionally cause odours which concern residents and businesses in and around the area.

Give us your feedback

To help us understand how best to deal with the smell produced by the Waste Recycling Centre, please fill in our Odour Complaint Report form.

Tackling the smell from the WRC

Latest update

March 2020: The council appointed a specialist environmental consultant to identify the operations and activities with the potential to give rise to odour in the vicinity of The Waste & Recycling Centre (WRC), to review the effectiveness of the current odour control techniques and odour management procedures at WRC and to highlight any areas of deficiency and detail potential improvements that could be applied to reduce odour emissions.

The WRC Odour Executive Summary and WRC Odour Action Plan provide details of further actions that the council will undertake, along with key partners, over the next few months to ensure that inconvenience to local people is kept to a minimum. Further updates will be posted on this page to keep you informed of progress.

Older updates

July 2018

Following a community meeting on 25 July 2018 and resident feedback we have been working on an action plan to reduce the smell and address your concerns. Here are some of the ways we are tackling the issue and our progress:

We are cleaning our vehicles more frequently, and cleaning our centre and our equipment thoroughly and more regularly to help combat bad smells.

4 July 2019

Bin lorries that compact mixed household waste, which include food waste, have been identified as being a source of odour and are cleaned more regularly than bin lorries that collect dry recycling only. They are given an extensive deep clean every 6 weeks. London Energy are also paying more attention to the cleanliness of their operational areas. They are evaluating how they handle waste and looking for ways to help reduce the odours that are generated.

We are cleaning the entrance to the WRC and the surrounding area more often. We have carried out a deep clean to clear litter and remove chewing gum and have installed better waste and recycling bins near the Caledonian Road tube. We are also sweeping the streets more often to help keep them tidy.

Since the area outside Caledonian tube station was given a deep clean in the summer of 2018, the cleaning frequency has been increased to keep the area as clean as possible. New litter and recycling bins were installed outside the station and at the end of Cottage Road. The large recycling bins at the end of Cottage Road now have attractive covers that not only make them look better but also helps keep any spilled recycling contained.

We have introduced a new system to help reduce smells. This system treats the air at the recycling centre by spraying a fine mist of water and a harmless chemical that breaks down the particles that cause bad smells. We have been using a temporary system but will be replacing it with a more permanent one so we can better manage this problem in future.

We are currently carrying out trials on an alternative odour management system and this will help us decide on the design and installation of the permanent system that we will install at WRC. Once the trial is evaluated and we are clear on what will improve the system, we will carry out the installation.

In addition, we are carrying out a full, comprehensive review - looking at our building and the equipment we use and how we work, including with external partners - to see if we can do anything else to reduce odours from the centre. 

17 July 2019

We commissioned a specialist environmental management consultancy to make a site visit to look at all of our waste management activities and odour control systems. They looked at our complaints management arrangements, dust and odour management plan. They also conducted various desktop studies and consulted with NLWA and London Energy. They have issued their report along with a number of recommendations. We have now reviewed the report with NLWA and London Energy and are working on a final report and action plan which will be shared with local residents and businesses as soon as possible.

We have also reminded our staff to be considerate about smoking, and speaking loudly near local homes. If you have any complaints, please email us, giving as much detail as possible so we can investigate. Signs have been installed at the entrances to WRC, reminding staff about Council policy on not smoking within the vicinity of council buildings. The signs give details about where staff can receive support to give up smoking. Staff have been more considerate about gathering outside local homes and because of the support from staff we believe that there has been a significant improvement in this area.

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