We are one of 12 Local Authorities across the country to secure funding from the Net Zero Innovation Programme (NZIP). Working with University College London (UCL) and The Wheel, funding will be used to establish a pilot project investigating how small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) on our highstreets can aggregate and reduce waste and become more resource efficient.
The project will also investigate opportunities for reducing the energy usage of local SMEs, which will help with our commitment to support local businesses through the cost-of-living crisis.
Currently in the scoping phase, the project is scheduled to be completed by June 2023 and is set to focus on SMEs on Morden High Street. This is because the majority of Merton’s Commercial sector is comprised of SMEs, making the project outcomes replicable across the borough and significant parts of London.
NZIP is delivered through a collaboration between the Local Government Association (LGA) and UCL, and it aims to create partnerships between universities and local authorities to address sustainability challenges at the local level and seeks routes to achieve councils’ net zero, adaptation and biodiversity commitments.
Although this project is primarily to address climate change and the cost of living, research outcomes are likely to have a positive impact on our understanding of the waste issues that are facing the borough. Commercial waste disposal is a complicated matter, as businesses can choose to have contracts with any registered waste collection company. This can lead to complex waste disposal arrangements, an unsatisfactory impact on the aesthetics of high streets and poor hygiene. This is just the latest way in which we’re trying to improve the cleanliness of our streets, recently we’ve been cracking down on fly-tipping, and we’ve launched a consultation on the future of our street-cleaning and waste collection service.
Councillor Natasha Irons, our Cabinet Member for Local Environment, Green Spaces and Climate Change, said: “It’s great news that, thanks to this funding from NZIP, we’ll be able to carry out this pioneering project that addresses three priorities that we know residents want to see action on: climate change, the cost of living, and waste management. I’m proud that we’re leading the way in waste and energy-use reduction, and I’m hopeful that this project will have a huge positive impact, not only in our borough, but around London and beyond.”