Lewisham Council asks BC readers about the future of business waste

Nigel Tyrell, Head of Environment for Lewisham Council, would like your feedback on possible changes to the way in which the Council charges business for waste disposal. It matters not only to local business owners, but to all of us, because the Council is now in a position to profit from waste recycling, as well as because an effective business waste management strategy means less dumping and fewer scenes like this.

Nigel says:

Our new recycling contract means that we now can get an income for the waste we deliver, rather than having to pay for disposal or recycling. This would seem to be a great opportunity to change the way we deal with trade waste. 

Our income for the recyclables would cover the labour and transport costs, and could even generate a small surplus to support some hard-pressed services, such as street cleansing. 

We think that this could also be a good way to support local businesses during these tougher times. We'd like to make it really worthwhile for businesses to recycle. We're aiming to provide a very simple, 'budget airline' kind of offer to businesses:

We'll collect all your recycling, free of charge perhaps with a minimum residual waste bin charge 
Businesses to provide the bags or bins for this service, or tie-up bundles of cardboard rather than having to hire our bins or buy our bags 

We'd re-model a version of LoveLewisham (apps and site) to allow businesses to order collections, and allow our refuse workers to report tonnages disposed and close jobs, etc. 

The new site would make it clear exactly what kind of waste we'd collect for free, if would also show a live total of tonnes recycled, and perhaps the value directed to front-line services. As for timescales, I'd like to make a start as soon as possible. 

We're thinking about using this approach in Deptford to start with, but that would mainly aimed at improving the street scene and helping to relieve the operational pressure on our cleansing service. My team are currently looking at the financial implications and the deliverability of the collection service. 

We need to make a judgement about what income we're likely to lose from collecting regular waste as people shift to our free recycling service. 

Should we go down the route of offering this service to new customers only? 
Should we start with schools and charities, or pilot it in a given area (maybe Brockley?). 

I'd like to jump straight in, once I'm happy it won't leave our finances worse-off. 

It would be really helpful to be able to take a sounding from Brockley Central, and businesses that might be interested in this service.

Our own experience of owning a small business in the borough of Westminster is that they do not mess around. Waste management charges are high and enforcement draconian. The cost of a few bin bags a week is not insignificant for small businesses, struggling to get by. So a scheme that cuts costs should improve Lewisham's competitiveness as a place to run a business and ensure that fewer cowboys opt out of the system and try to dump their waste.

Please let Nigel know what you think? And is Brockley a good place to trial the new scheme?