Lewisham Council answers your questions on the new recycling policy

Following the news that Lewisham now recycles a much wider range of household waste, the Council officer responsible, Sam Kirk, has kindly answered a number of the key questions and issues raised in the resulting discussion. Here's the response in full:

Thank you all for your positive comments and for those of you that have filled in the gaps with regards to some of the queries. 

To confirm, all of your dry recycling can be put into your existing recycling bin and they will all be taken to Bywaters (Leyton) Ltd, who were awarded the contract, which began on 5th December. 

A full list of recyclables can be found here http://recycleforlewisham.com/ In terms of publicity, my team have been out and about in Lewisham at various events and ward assemblies informing people of the new service. 

Further, an article went out in the December edition of Lewisham Life, information has been updated on the Council’s website and there have been numerous tweets, information to over 500 community groups, information being sent to blogs and our own blog article. In the new year we will be getting more information out to people, but we didn’t want this to be lost in the run up to Christmas and so decided on a phased approach to publicity and information. 

We are looking at doing posters for the JC Decaux sites, leaflets, including information in the Council Tax booklet and potentially new stickers for the recycling bins. If anyone has any other ideas for getting the word out there then please let us know. 

When we were producing the tender documents, it was important to us to get a contractor that, where possible, would ensure that UK markets were considered as a priority, therefore applying the ‘Proximity Principle’, then the EU, then world markets. At the time of the tender document being submitted, 54% of material was reprocessed in the UK and only 3% of material was sent to Asia. This will be unavoidable as materials are traded globally on a commodities market, and until more re-processors are UK based offering a good income then shipping some materials abroad will continue. 

Each month the Council will get information as to where the material collected from residents ends up and it is hoped that in the Spring of next year that information relating to recycling will be available for all to see through an online portal. Bywaters are also keen that residents see the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in operation, and in the new year we will be arranging visits. We will tweet and blog about this, as well as putting information out on the Council’s website. 

I think most people have responded regarding the garden waste: we do offer a range of services, some charged for some free, and this information can be found on the web: www.lewisham.gov.uk/recycling As Sue has mentioned, it is harder for inner London authorities to achieve high recycling rates due to a number of elements, including housing stock and lack of gardens to collect the green waste. Lewisham also incinerates food waste, and many other authorities have introduced food waste collections as legislation states that only a certain amount of biodegradable (e.g. food waste) can be sent to landfill. Coupled with landfill tax, this makes it economically viable to introduce food waste collections for those authorities. 

Whilst Lewisham has investigated food waste collections, at this time it is not economically viable to do so. Lewisham has however, got one of the lowest landfill rates in the country and does a lot to promote waste prevention and reduction campaigns. Further, Lewisham has started to tackle those materials with a high carbon content to try and address carbon emissions e.g. textiles, plastics, which can now be recycling in your recycling bin. We would however say please consider taking textiles to charity shops in the first instance or textile banks before putting them in your recycling bin. I hope this answers all the queries raised and thank you for your support in what we should see as an increase in Lewisham’s recycling rates. 

Sam Kirk Strategic Waste & Environment Manager 

Visit our blog http://recycleforlewisham.com 
Follow us on twitter http://twitter.com/EnviroLewisham 
To report environmental issues visit http://www.lovecleanstreets.org