Every year, London produces over 1 million tons of organic waste which is destined for landfill. This natural waste will gradually degrade, emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and ultimately contributing to climate change.
The Lansbury Ward in Poplar sits adjacent to the Canary Wharf – the financial centre of London. Yet, it has one of the city’s highest levels of social and economic deprivation, and low access to employment due to lack of adequate training. It’s one of the most diverse wards in the country, yet residents complain about a lack of cohesion between groups and a lack of identity; social isolation on estates is commonplace.
There is, however, an active food growing culture locally. This is where Team London saw their opportunity to tackle the area’s environmental and social challenges together. Their goal: to tackle the way we currently dispose of food waste in cities, proposing a localised waste management system in Poplar, East London.
R-Urban Poplar is a pilot project that integrates local food waste collection, its processing via an Anaerobic Digester and its integration into a community garden where food is produced and consumed via a community kitchen powered on bio-gas.
Through education and demonstrating a successful closed loop ecosystem, Team London hopes to begin to address the challenges of waste management in cities, reducing the amount of waste going into landfill and educating citizens in the process.
Using organic waste as a local resource, the Anaerobic Digester turns waste into biogas and plant fertiliser (digestate). The biogas will be used by the adjacent R-Urban Community Kitchen, bringing local residents together through the preparation and eating of healthy food. The kitchen’s facilities can also be hired for community events. The fertilizer will be used to grow food in the adjacent community garden, with an expanded network of green spaces in the area.
The locally sustainable model, collectively managed by local community members, should work as a prototype for how a local community could be trained and eventually run a community energy project, reducing the carbon footprint of the estate and providing new opportunities for training and employment.