The war on soggy newspapers - play your part

Before the deluge: at 8am, the newspapers have already begun to pile up.

As someone who can't stand a minute alone with his own thoughts, the explosion in free London newspapers has been a godsend: there's always one lying around to read if I'm stuck on a train without a book or my blackberry.

However, there is a darker side to the free newspaper phenomenon.

In Brockley, the specially-designed bins, placed outside the station for people to leave their newspapers at the end of their jouney have proven woefully inadequate for the task. Too small and hard to use, they are not emptied quickly enough, which means that they a constantly overflowing, and people are increasingly opting to chuck their papers beside the bins, creating Brockley's biggest piece of public sculpture: a monstrous papier-mache mountain of wet newspaper, that can't be recycled.

The problem has been raised with our local MP at the latest Brockley Commmon Partnership meeting and it's been agreed that it's a problem that needs addressing. However, in the mean time, please play your part and, if you find the bins overflowing, take your newspaper home with you.


Andrew Brown said...

As the person who aranged for the recycling facilities to be put in place I feel some responsibility for this.

Just to explain that the council were offered the recepticals by Recycle London (I think) as a freebie, and I was keen because I'd seen something similar in Boston when I visited there.

Officer advice was hardly enthusiastic, because of the size of the bins and the need to emptying them every few days.

That said if the bins are full then letting the council know should sort it out -

Nick said...

Thanks Andrew, I'd say the intention was clearly the right one, I think it's just the volume of newspapers thrown away daily is now huge. I think Westminster Council are trying to force Associated Newspapers and News Corp in to helping them meet the cost of clearing up 3 tonnes of newspaper, daily.

Anyway, it's an individual's responsibility not to chuck things on the floor, but I suspect some people simply assume that the appropriate place to put their newspaper when the bin's full is next to it. It would be interesting to see whether the problem got better or worse if they were taken away entirely.

Cllr Dean Walton said...

It's certainly my understanding that at the moment the recycling bins at Brockley Station are currently a pilot.

Following reports of the problems earlier in the year by myself & others further bins were provided and the collection frequency increased. It really doesn't seem that credible to suggest that this problem only occurs when the bins are full...but I might be proved wrong.

Howver, I have suggested 'training' sessions by Lewisham's officers...but they did not consider this a good way forward in January this year. Perhaps we as local residents could step in and help here?

Anyway, whatever we do I think there is an important need to make sure this scheme works as it will help determine what happens elsewhere at other stations in Lewisham.

Brockley Nick said...

Hi Dean

I'm sure you're right that the problem is not always the bins anymore, but I'd suspect that people have simply got in the habit of dropping their papers there now, so maybe some kind of re-education process is necessary.

So what are the options?

Council workers standing by the bins for a week?

A sign by the bins?

Getting the train drivers to read a message over the tannoy system before they pull in to Brockley station?

A message in the Council newsletter?

Forcing the newspaper companies to provide greater clean-up support or run advertising in their papers, asking people to dispose of their papers responsibly?

There's a campaign called Project Freesheet on this topic...

jc said...

In my opinion the fact that the publishers are having a circulation war is the first problem. 1.5 million freesheets are being distributed around London every day. That's a lot of material. To expect current recycling facilities to deal with this is obviously unrealistic.

The publishers have to be held to account for the waste that they are responsible for. Westminster Council has pictures of undistributed bundles of freesheet papers it found in the back of tipper trucks. They are printing so many that even the distributors are struggling to keep up.

And we know how keen they are!!

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