Environmental sustainability

Creating a circular economy

Our vision for creating a circular economy

A circular economy keeps products and materials in use at their highest value for as long as possible; for example returing items for repair when broken or at the end of their useful life, rather than being thrown away. Our aim is to work with Sutton's businesses to harness the potential of the circular economy and undertake circular economy pilot projects by 2025. Being a circular economy will benefit the borough through long-term resilience, business and economic opportunities and environmental and societal benefits. In the shorter-term, we will aim for Sutton's recycling rate to be 50 per cent or higher· 

Focus areas

  • Undertake circular economy pilot projects.
  • Maximise opportunities to procure goods and services sustainably. 

The targets

  • Promote recycling and keep Sutton's recycling rate at 50 per cent or higher.
  • Help people throw less away and achieve year on year reductions in the amount of rubbish (residual waste) produced by each household.
  • Help people reduce the amount of avoidable food waste they throw away by 20 per cent by 2025. 

Action plan

An action plan will be used to monitor the delivery of the creating a circular economy chapter. This will be reviewed and updated annually. 

Actions you can take

Reducing waste:

  • Visit Love Your Clothes to get tips for making the most out of your clothes. They have great ideas for repair, reuse, restyling or rehoming clothes you no longer wear.
  • If you’ve got a baby, switch to reusable nappies. The council has a nappy cashback scheme to help fund the upfront cost of cloth nappies.
  • Got an item you no longer need? Consider either selling it or giving it away on websites such as freecycle, freegle, gumtree or a local swap page on facebook. Consider buying pre-loved items as well. The Community Reuse shop at Kimpton sells a range of items from board games to furniture and vacuum cleaners.
  • Try to buy products that aren’t wrapped in single use plastics and take a reusable shopping bag with you.
  • Ask questions of sales staff and manufacturers about the materials used, where they come from, and whether they’ll take back the product at the end of its life for recycling.


  • Be sure to recycle everything you can from around your home. If you aren’t sure what you can recycle or which bin to use, visit recycling - what to put where.
  • Did you know you can recycle plastic plant pots? Ask at your local garden centre.

In the kitchen:

  • Eat everything you buy - food waste is throwing money in the bin!  
  • Use your food waste caddy to recycle unavoidable food waste.
  • Plan your meals, write and take a list shopping to avoid buying more than you need.
  • Love your freezer - to save food waste.
  • Use reusable containers instead of single-use plastics, and look at environmentally friendly alternatives to cling film.
  • Wash used tin foil and it can be recycled.

Around the borough:

  • At pubs, cafes and restaurants, avoid single use plastics and ask for no straw.
  • When going out, take a reusable water bottle and coffee cup with you. Some shops will refill it for you for free. Visit Successful Sutton Refill Scheme or Refill to find your local refill point.


  • Whether online or in person, ask questions. What are the environmental credentials of the company you’re buying from?
  • Comment on packaging if it’s excessive or non-recyclable.
  • Explore environmentally-friendly options for everything from deodorant to cling film.  
  • Buy from local producers if you can.
  • Take your own packaging. Some shops allow you to take your own reusable containers to purchase meat and other products.
  • Take a reusable bag with you to the shops.