Community skipping: The answer to fly-tipping?

BC is somewhat behind the times on this one, given that it's been and gone, but we thought it was worth a mention anyway.





As a follow-up to Lewisham Council's research into the problem of fly-tipping, a free 'community skip' trial took place last weekend. The skip was placed on Eddystone Road for the disposal of large, bulky waste which should otherwise have been dropped off at the Landmann Way Recycling Centre, but all too often is simply dumped on the street.

Mattresses are a particular problem according to Tom Ashworth, a local chap studying for an MA in Design who has been working with the council to try to tackle the fly-tipping problem. 'An average month sees 1,500 [mattresses] dumped onto the streets of Lewisham,' he told BC.

Tom's 'community skip' idea sounds like an innovative way to respond to an irritating ongoing problem. The team are now evaluating the results and considering whether to roll the idea out to the rest of the borough; they're also working on other, related ideas.
BC hopes the skip makes another appearance on our streets.

57 comments:

Brockley Nick said...

Great work Tom and well done to the Council for supporting this kind of innovation. I'll see whether Tom wants to share his thoughts about this programme and its potential with BC.

Brockley Kate said...

Nick - I'm already in touch with Tom ...

Paddyom said...

1500 matresses a month dumped in Lewisham alone? That is incredible!

darryl853 said...

It's certainly a better idea than Greenwich's way of dealing with it - charging householders £12 for collecting bulky rubbish.

Brockley Nick said...

Then I shan't interfere further :)

Headhunter said...

Sounds like a good idea. When I lived in Osaka, Japan, 1 day a month or every 2 weeks or something (can't remember which) was allocated as "big rubbish day" when everyone left large, often electrical or white goods out in the street for the local council to collect. It worked really well out there.

It was also a godsend for us impoverished gaijin - Japan is in many ways a very consumerist society and everyone wants the latest stuff, be it a stereo, TV, computer or fridge. Much more so than in Europe or possibly even the US. At the same time, wealthy Japanese city dwellers live in flats the size of a shoebox, so once they have bought the latest TV, the old one, working or not, gets left in the street on "big rubbish day" as they have no storage. There is very little 2nd hand value as 2nd hand goods are frowned upon.

Us gaijin would then pick up anything decent. I had a computer, 2 video recorders, a couple of convection heaters and a stereo. All left in the street and all working fine.

It was the same with cars - the Japanese MOT, the "shaken" is notoriously strict, they say to force people to constantly buy new cars and keep the Japanese car industry afloat by constantly buying new cars.

Lots of people would ship perfectly good cars, which could be bought for next to nothing, all over the world and sell them for a profit in other parts of Asia or Australia.

Profitable and environmentally friendly through recycling what would otherwise be scrapped.

Headhunter said...

darryl853 - Lewisham charges/charged £15 to collect bulky rubbish last time I checked! So Greenwich was/is cheaper actually!

drakefell debaser said...

I have seen two mattresses dumped within 10 metres of my front door in recent weeks so I think this is a great idea.

In fact one mattress was kept company by a crumpled fried chicken box with drum stick bone and a dog turd amongst other litter. It was like a monument for laziness.

Tamsin said...

I have a vivid memory of a good while back now walking over the footbridge at Avignon Road and seeing a blissfully happy fox on the slope of the railway cutting - lying on a mattress that had been chucked down there, just basking comfy in the warm sunlight.

John Moonbow said...

Trying to go one better in this part of Brockley we have just has a bath dumped outside, and not your plain white one but a early
80s pastel plastic type with an oyster shell design!

Anonymous said...

Lewisham council has a very short memory. over the last 20 years they have moved back and forth from charging and not charging to remove large items. Whenever they charge the flytipping goes up and they have to spend large amounts of our money clearing flytipping so they go back to not charging and it reduces dramatically. Can anyone see a pattern here? As an alternative I had a wardrobe, a working tv a working microwave and a working vacuum cleaner all picked by this brilliant homeless charity based in our borough http://www.emmaus.org.uk/regions/view/london

Its a great way to recycle and support a great organisation at the same time. You can drop things off to their shop on Lee High Rd as well. Check them out

Andy Endwell said...

Is "community skipping" similar to syncronised hopping??

Anonymous said...

If you leave stuff outside someone eventually picks it up anyway.

One man's flytipping is another man's "council comes and picks it up" day.

Andy Endwell said...

Well after having been facetious, I have to say that i think its a good move as I am sick of falling over "One man's flytipping is another man's "council comes and picks it up" all down Endwell Rd!

Brockley Kate said...

Andy - your pic is working now!

Andrew Brown said...

The NDC in New Cross tried the community skip thing in something like 2005.

Whether it's a success depends on your idea of what that might look like.

For you and me as residents being able to take our stuff that we don't want to a skip a few streets away is very attractive, especially if it doesn't cost us anything.

From the council's point of view it's a bit more problematic as there are additional costs involved - when the NDC did their experiment over a weekend there were something like an additional 7 tons of waste that would otherwise not have got into the waste stream that weekend.

I don't think there's any evidence that community skips reduce the amount of fly tipping and certainly there's none that small charges increase the amount of fly tipped material.

Brockley Nick said...

Andrew - another way of looking at that is that there was 7 tonnes of waste that didn't end up on the streets or in people's front gardens! Of course it's going to be a lot if you offer a free weekend's dumping, but you wouldn't expect anywhere near that level of waste to be generated on a continuous basis.

The current charges are quite reasonable imo, but it probably costs 12 quid to administer the service and collect payment. A universal service of this sort, could be far more efficient and reduce flytipping (is there no evidence of a link because nobody's bothered to try and prove one or because studies have suggested no link)?

It seems fairly likely that imposing a charge would lead to some tipping.

Danja said...

It's a good idea on the surface, but it is begging to be abused.

What would you do if you were a tradesman or a developer, pay the landfill tax, or hire your own skip (and pay the landfill tax that way) or dump it in the community skip?

It would be great for me, but then renovating my house I have to hire a couple of skips a year.

Andy Endwell said...

Kate I am feeling terribly pleased with myself te he.

Anonymous said...

I think the Council charge £15 for White Goods.

maxink said...

Danja is right, I believe that more of less any skip is abused. We had large works at home a couple of months ago and had a skip outside, only that a dodgy builder from across the road used it as if it was his and used a very good share of it, and there was nothing I could do to stop him.

Headhunter said...

Yes, I agree that it would probably end up abused a bit. I think a certain amount of the flytipping that goes on in Brockley is commercial. Down the mews and previously in the grounds round the big church on Wickham Rd, it's not uncommon to see piles of dumped tyres (dumped by one of Brockley's ubiquitous MOT garages?) and building waste. This will all end up in the skips probably. But I suppose it's better there than in the mews...

Anonymous said...

er..... i beg to differ Andrew Brown. This is precisely the reason given by lewisham as to why Lewisham has stopped charging on at least two occassions i can recall - in an attempt to STOP fly tipping. And (although this is more anecdotal/observational evidence) it certainly worked.

What u are not taking into account is the notion that people object to paying for services TWICE. It might seem reasonable to u but it isnt for everyone especially on top of Council tax. Good and honest locals complain about extra charges, just like BC readers get upset about CPZs. BTW lewisham was charging £25 at one point.

Headhunter said...

Gotta say I rather object to being charged for waste disposal. I suppose it's not unreasonable but it irks me considering that Lewisham BC is one of the only London boroughs to have upped council tax above the rate of inflation in the past year.

Anonymous said...

Its only worth hiring a skip MaxInk, If you are going to fill It that day.

Monkeyboy said...

this sounds it may actually be a sound idea.

HH, they had a similar thing in Sydney. Excellent for students who do a quick tour early on Wednesday morning to furnish their house. Helps that there's not much rain for much of the year.

Richard Elliot said...

Skips like this were semi regular event while I was growing up in Oxfordshire. Is it really a new innovation for London?

Aunty Kate said...

Does anyone know if the Eddystone skip actually got used? Hope it got filled up otherwise the experiment might have failed...

Pete said...

I used to live in Southwark and they will come and collect bulky refuse for free. I think there is a limit to the number of times that they will come and get stuff for you each year but it worked really well for us.

The only problem we used to have was that they would give you a date to put the stuff outside and other people would see your old sofa or whatever and pile all their rubbish on top of it which could lead to a bit of an eyesore for a couple of days if the council failed to come on the allotted day.

tyrwhitt ali said...

When I lived in Tower Hamlets we got two free large items collections a year and then after that it was £25. I think a community skip sounds like a great idea as with no car getting things to the tip is a non starter.

Can I also big up the green bag for garden waste. I phoned yesterday to arrange collection and they're coming today!

Conrad said...

Three years ago I called the council enquiring as to their collection policy, when I expressed mild surprise at their charges the woman on the phone just told me to go and fly tip it somewhere! So that's what I've been doing ever since...

Anonymous said...

Unofficially I think councils don't mind people leaving stuff out so that a van can collect it every so often. I think they just don't like it when people charge for the service of removal then just throw it down a back alley somewhere - that's proper fly-tipping.

Tressilliana said...

The council may not mind seeing mattresses dumped on Hilly Fields and all along the street but I mind very much indeed. I agree with those who say that this should be covered by the council tax. Charging for removal leads to flytipping which in the long run must surely cost just as much as doing a free collection service.

Crofton Parker said...

Regular pick-ups of large items from the footpath happen all over Oz, like the Japanese system HH mentions. I in fact assumed they happened everywhere. At the start of the year the council sends a little cardboard year's calendar with a magnet on the back with dates for the collections - four a year usually. So you know when one is coming up. And the night before, the whole suburb lugs their stuff to the footpath, and then at dawn the students etc cruise around picking up anything that looks useful, before the rubbish collectors come around and pick the rest up.

It seems to work a treat - people seem to put up with having a spare old mattress or fridge or whatever stuck in the house as they know it'll be just a couple of months before a big pick up. I'd have thought here in London where lots of people don't have cars it would be even more useful to have such a system here. Weaklings such as myself could usually lug something out to the front of the building, but I would have terrible trouble getting it to the tip, or even to the local community skip. It's a shame but I think the key to getting rid of fly-tipping is to make it as easy as possible to get rid of this stuff.

Murk said...

Beats having a bin stolen every Tuesday.. (is it Tuesdays now? I'm so out of touch due to the constant thieving) A skip sounds perfect.

putting the conservation back into conservation area said...

"Unofficially I think councils don't mind people leaving stuff out so that a van can collect it every so often."

Damn I hate this attitude.I pay for the council to come and pick my stuff up or take it to the tip - as well as paying my council tax. If you think its really ok to fly tip- as the council expect it - then fly tip outside your own front door.


Otherwise, I think the skip scheme only serves those who live close by - if you can drive something to a skip you can drive it to the tip.

Anonymous said...

Is there a danger if the community skip appears to often in one place it will become a place fly-tippers swarm to, even when there's no skip?

Could this scheme be subsidised by selling any scrap that's in the skip?

When the service was provided free to council tennants, a block down the road seemed to produce far more waste than you'd expect for the number of people living there.

------

Dumped cars used to be a regular occurance but it now seems to be a thing of the past?

Anonymous said...

Wish I'd known about this earlier! Last Thursday the Council collected three items for £15 from my front garden(bedframe - which had to be bundled, TV and child's car seat). Don't have a car and carrying the frame would have been hard work!

Anonymous said...

I think scrap metal Is worth a bit at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I think people should take a closer look at their council tax bills to see exactly what they are paying for. I don't think they're paying for a bulky waste collection service, therefore they are not paying TWICE.

This service will be a separate service not covered by the council tax, therefore the council need to charge for it.

Anonymous said...

Council Tax does pay for the upkeep of pavements though,so whats happening round the Barge ?

Cornwall Jon said...

I loathe fly tipping, but I can understand people's frustrations with the Lansdowne Way tip. Many's the time I have been down there with a car full of crap only to be turned away for having the wrong sort of council tax bill, having to join a massive queue or visiting on a day/time when the site was not open, despite having stated that it was open on the website. The people who work there are a surly bunch of b*stards and the whole experience is profoundly irritating.

Anonymous said...

Cornwall Jon,

I don't think it was the car that was full of crap, do you?

I've visited the Landmann Way site many times and have always found the site well run and staff very helpful. Yes, queue's might form, it can get busy, this is all perfectly normal and a healthy sign that people don't just flytip their unwanted items.

Any utility bill is usually acceptable there. I guess your just another one of the council bashing clique that regularly contributes to this site.

Anonymous said...

Another possible solution for items which still have some life in them is Freecycle - www.freecycle.org. There are Freecycle groups for both Greenwich and Lewisham and people usually collect the items offered. I've freecycled everything from a new unwanted bath panel to carpet underlay and all were gratefully received.

monkeyboy said...

I've always found them OK, I use my drivers license. They need to make sure those outside the area are not using our Council Tax to process stuff.

They let me in once when I begged them not to turn me away with a van (see care club post...) full of rubble from some work on my house. I hadn't read the small print about the quantities, the clueless middle class twerp act seemed to make them take pity on me and let me in.

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance that whoever gets elected in May can look at making the Landmann centre less prohibitive? I've got a whole load of rubbish that the previous owner left behind when they moved out, most of which falls outside of their ridiculous guidelines (ie they'd class it as DIY waste). Add to that the need for ID and proof of residence and the whole thing becomes pointless. No wonder people fly-tip.

love detective said...

"Add to that the need for ID and proof of residence and the whole thing becomes pointless.No wonder people fly-tip."

why does having to flash your council tax bill at someone make the whole thing pointless?

people fly-tip because they have zero respect for their community and those who live in it, and are generally anti-social scum, not because of the two things that you point out

Anonymous said...

If you had to flash your council tax bill whenever you went to the swimming pool, or used a cashpoint or any other service in the area you'd be asking 'why?'. That said, in this case the ID thing was just an additional inconvenience - my actual issue is that they're so selective on what they'll actually accept, and just tell you to get a skip otherwise. This doesn't seem to happen outside of bureaucratic London.

Anonymous said...

I think it's just a practical measure. It's of a limited size, it's not a landfill site. If there were no limits costs would spiral, people from outside the area would use it. Waste is taxed now (quiet rightly) so if it gets out of hand your council tax bill would rise. Do what I do and visit there over several trips, stops it getting ovewhelmed.

Or hire a skip....

Mr Burns said...

They turned down my Uranium 235. Nazis

Anonymous said...

Has anyone used the Wandsworth one? There's none of the namby-pamby fussing over what stuff goes in what bin. You just rock up in your car which backs up onto a skip with the front cut out. Throw all your rubbish of any sort in and drive off.

No ID, no registration... in fact you'd be free to use it and shows how the New Cross one should be.

Anonymous said...

Wrong... It does have restrictions

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200084/recycling_rubbish_and_waste/267/reuse_and_recycling_centres_tipdump/3

Also asks you to register a van, as do Lewisham.

If Wandsworth don't enforce that then they are stupid. They will have to pay to remove mixed waste whereas Lewisham could actually make money from the separated waste, or at least reduce the cost of disposal.

Personally I'm glad they are policing it correctly. If your refurbishing your house pay the relativly small amount for a skip and don't ecpect everyone to pay for YOUR work. A facility to dispose/recylce reasonable amounts of bulky waste is eminently sensible.

Anonymous said...

What sort of things doesn't Landmann accept? I've taken a huge range of stuff there over the years and never had a problem.

love detective said...

"If you had to flash your council tax bill whenever you went to the swimming pool, or used a cashpoint or any other service in the area you'd be asking 'why?'"

you're right i don't have to flash my council tax bill whenever i go swimming or use a cash point, I have to flash my gym membership card and bank card respectively instead - i don't know how I cope

Pete said...

It won't take anything classed as rubble. We were digging the garden over and discovered that there was tonnes of rubble buried about three inches below the surface. I tried to get rid of a small amount at Landmann and was told to sod off.

They also won't take plasterboard.

Anonymous said...

This isn't rubble, it's artisan rockery.

Anonymous said...

They took about ten bags or rubble from me. Had to spread it over several weeks as they have limited room. Must have been you.

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