How have the Refuse and Recycling Service Standards ‘bedded in’?

Back in the summer of July 2013, four Field Officers were employed by Lewisham Council to undertake what was seen at the time as a relatively short programme of rolling out brand new Service Standards. These were being introduced to clarify what the roles of the crews were when delivering the refuse and recycling services and also what role the residents played.

Residents that receive a kerbside collection will probably be familiar with these new Standards by now. This heralds a new way of doing things in Lewisham and is the first time since collections began that residents are having to bring their bins to the boundary of their property themselves – if they do of course want their bins emptied.

If your bin needs to be emptied, let us know by leaving them at the inside boundary of your property

If your bin needs to be emptied, let us know by leaving them at the inside boundary of your property

Introducing standards for these services is nothing new in London. Most boroughs in the capital have something similar in place that clarifies the roles of crews and residents alike. Greenwich for example ask their residents to leave their bins on the public highway if they want a collection. However in Lewisham we say to leave the bins at the edge of the property boundary to avoid obstructing the pavement. Residents are then expected to return the bins back to their property at their earliest possible convenience once the crews have emptied them and left them at the outside boundary without blocking the public highway.

Now that over a year has passed since their introduction, we wanted to find out how the Service Standards have ‘bedded in’. So we spoke to crews, our Field Officers and looked at correspondence that came in via email and issues that were raised over the phone to see how the rollout went.

We started by asking our crews what their thoughts were on the Service Standards roll out. Their responses were on the whole enthusiastic which we were pleased to hear. They told us that residents were responding well to the changes. There were and still are residents that forget to put their bins out on the day of collection before 6am which results in them not having their bins emptied. When this happens, we have to inform the residents in question that they won’t be getting another collection until the following week. Unless of course its an assisted collection.

Our crews will take additional recycling materials if they are bagged in clear sacks

Our crews will take additional recycling materials if they are bagged in clear sacks

In some instances the changes can be seen as beneficial to residents as collections aren’t always needed every week, which means that bins won’t need to be brought in off the street every week. Those who recycle, compost and generally reduce their waste may only need a collection once a fortnight or even once a month in some cases? You also don’t want your bin sitting outside of your house if you are on holiday.

From December onwards we will no longer have any Field Officers but their help in ensuring everything rolled out smoothly was invaluable. They fed back all issues and problems regarding the rollout and painted a very positive picture. They said that crews and residents alike have adapted well and have responded positively by bringing out their bins. Where there’s been uncertainty, they’ve made visits to residents properties to sort out any problems and issues.

But its not all about bringing the bins to the boundary of the property. The measures are also designed to help residents reduce the amount of waste they generate. When crews come across bins that have been over producing and the lid of the bin is up with bags of waste sticking out, the address is taken down and the resident will receive a letter about this and reminding them that lids must be down on the day of collection.

By asking for the lids to be down on collection day, we are hoping that residents will reduce the amount of waste they produce

By asking for the lids to be down on collection day, we are hoping that residents will reduce the amount of waste they produce

This partnership approach with residents is working well and we want to thank everyone who have helped make the transition and the change in Lewisham bin collection policy a smooth and an easy one.

All we ask now is for residents to remember to take their bins back onto their properties after their collection which will keep the streets looking tidier and prevent passersby from using the bins to deposit other types of waste.

For those that are still not sure about the Service Standards, please click on the following link which gives full details:

The Land of Refuse and Honey

Three years ago the Wearside Depot became home to a colony of bees from a local beekeeper in order to promote biodiversity and food production as part of the Capital Growth campaign.

After a great start the prolonged wet winter of last year took its toll on our hives; whilst the now 2 bee hives coped admirably it was disappointing that a wet Spring tipped them over and despite feeding sugar syrup and fondant to top up their food source they just couldn’t cope with the persistent cold and wet. It was very sad to lose them and a sorry sight to open a hive to silence and lots of little furry bodies scattering the hive floor.

The homes of the busy bees in the Wearside Depot

The homes of the busy bees in the Wearside Depot

Undeterred and with great help and advice from Mark Emptage and Clive Watson from Bromley Beekeepers a nuc of 6 frames was provided in the following Spring and we settled our fresh new bees into  their riverside residence. The early warmth got them off to a flying start and it was wonderful to see the busy comings and goings as our bees foraged for local pollen and nectar.  Weekly inspections ensued to check that the Queen was laying and no diseases were present; the hive was doing so well we were able to split the it to establish a second colony.  Both hives thrived with plenty of plump larvae and a surprising range of pollen colours, depending on the plant source,  from emerald greens to ruby reds through to deep yellow and vivid orange.

A real hive of activity as the bees get to work

A real hive of activity as the bees get to work

As the weeks rolled by bee numbers steadily continued to increase and thankfully inspections showed no sign of disease or ill health in the colonies.  To spot the Queen busying about with her entourage of workers is a wonderful sight and to smell the waxy sweet comb on opening the hive is a feast for the nostrils.

The frames on which the bees store and cap their honey and pollen were getting heavier and heavier and last week we had the pleasure of extracting some of the honey (leaving enough for their winter stores) using a loaned extractor that uses centrifugal force to draw the honey out.  After 4 hours of spinning the frames we were left with 14  kilos of lovely light golden honey to be jarred up and christened as ‘Wearside Waggle’.

Pre-labelling, 105 jars of 'Wearside Waggle' were produced from the two hives

Pre-labelling, 105 jars of ‘Wearside Waggle’ were produced from the two hives

It just remains for us to keep checking on our buzzy friends to make sure they have enough stores to keep them going through the winter and treat for the Varroa mite if necessary.  As the weather turns cooler, hive inspections will cease as opening up when temperatures are below 15  can be detrimental to the hive.  So, a successful year had in which a small corner of our depot  has helped pollination and added a little to food production……..

Tag along to a textile bank for some recycling

Over the last week you might have seen a blue tag hanging on your recycling bin. Lewisham Council are keen to make sure that everyone’s recycling all they can, including their textiles. More than 60% of UK householders say they have unwanted clothes and textiles in their homes. We’d like to see these clothes being put to use and the clothes given a second chance.

You might have seen these hanging on a recycling bin near you.

You might have seen these hanging on a recycling bin near you.

These blue tags are an encouragement to all our residents to take a look at their wardrobes to clear out any unused textiles and recycle them by using one of the many textile banks located around the borough.

Full details of where your nearest text bank is can be found on the bin hanger.

Full details of where your nearest text bank is can be found on the bin hanger.

If you didn’t see one of the hangers on your recycling bin then don’t worry, full details of where you can find your nearest textile bank can be found on our website. For updates for new or relocated textile banks please visit:

A friendly cat approves of the new bin hangers.

A friendly cat approves of the new bin hangers.

The textiles are collected by a company called LMB who are based in East London. Full details of the company can be found on the following

A day in the life of the depot compost bin

It took a little embarrassment to give me the inspiration to give our compost heap some rather over due tender loving care last week. It all started when I lifted the lid of our compost bin that we use at work during a recent workshop and saw, together with everyone else, the sorry state it was in.  

The entire heap seemed to have shrunk in all directions creating a space between the bin and the sides of the heap. The top of the heap where you dump new waste in, as well as the sides, had formed a crust of mostly dried out tea bags and paper towels. 

Thankfully I didn’t have to dig too deeply to find some nice compost to show but it was drier than usual and it got me thinking. 

Back in Australia, I’d encourage people to turn over their compost heap and add in a little water/urine mix to ensure that the outer sides wouldn’t dry out from the heat. Here in England, it just didn’t seem necessary… until this summer! We’ve had a great summer this time around with lots of warm sunshine and not a lot of rain.

After all the hard work sorting the compost bin, Kristina has some quality compost to use.

After all the hard work sorting the compost bin, Kristina has some quality compost to use.

Due to the heat, the moisture within the heap had started to evaporate causing the contents of the compost bin to shrink and come away from the sides. As staff put more new scraps in they often didn’t sit on the top in a nice damp mound but fell away to the sides. Instead of retaining it’s moisture, these new additions, now thinly spread, would dry quickly and form a crust rather than break down quickly. It was time to give this normally moist compost heap some overdue TLC! 

Our bin has removable side panels to gain easy access to the contents, so removing 2 of these, I first scraped off the outer dry crust from the top and the sides and kept this separate. I did the same for the next layer in, revealing the good stuff underneath – beautiful earth smelling rich compost.  

At this point I realised how much ready to use compost we had and that we hadn’t utilised this lovely resource to it’s full potential – isn’t that half the reason why we compost? So with just 5 minutes of promotion, bags and bags of this gold were happily carried away by staff to use on their own gardens whilst most of it went onto the garden beds in the depot. 

I kept some back to restore our dried up crust though. So here’s how I revived what I had left of the remaining heap: 

What I had left:

       Crust layer (5% of a bin’s worth)

       Second layer in – quite dry but not crisp and semi broken down (10% of a bin’s worth)

       Moist somewhat broken down materials (20% of a bin’s worth)

       High quality compost (20% of a bin’s worth (45% of good compost was given away)

Taking out half of the high quality compost and putting it aside, I spread out the remaining compost inside the bin, ensuring that it reached the sides of the bin and was level. 

Meanwhile, I filled a tub with the crusty outer layer and poured in a bucket of algae enriched water from our water butt to soak the dry materials. Not only would the water re-hydrate it, but the algae, full of nitrogen, would be great to speed up the breakdown process. Of course, if you need to do the same, tap water will do the job, and better still, pop some urine into the mix! I wasn’t too keen on getting staff members to volunteer their personal nitrogen source to our compost heap though, so rain water was fine by me! 

The finished product ready for distribution on garden beds in the depot and peoples gardens.

The finished product ready for distribution on garden beds in the depot and peoples gardens.

I then mixed all the materials together by simply layering it back into the compost bin making sure that all the different grades were evenly mixed and watered from the soaking tub. Importantly, the upper most layers of soaked crusty materials were covered with a more broken down grade of compost so that they wouldn’t simply dry out again. 

From here, we just go about putting our scraps in as usual. They now fall onto a level surface that’s moist and teeming with life. You should have seen the abundant critters as I was working on the heap – I’m sure they are glad that I’ll leave them alone now!


Saturday 27th September at 11.45am THE ORCHESTRATED WASTE PROCESSION will leave the gallery and make its way through Deptford Market stopping at THE LIVING LIBRARY MARKET STALL and various skips en route including a rubbish trading point. At Margaret McMillan Park the marchers collaborate to use their found materials to make world globe sculptures spontaneously. All welcome, so come and join us!


Set within the culturally and historically revered library context, the newly categorised found rubbish contrasts by juxtaposition, to be revalued, reused and transformed. Provocatively and directly questioning consumer habits; the Library and the Living Room encourage shifting from a profit and loss ethos to a creative playful rediscovery of taken for granted stuff thrown out everyday. Participants are welcome to take stuff away to create new uses/forms/artwork, photograph the work and return the image to the Library to be re-referenced in its turn by others. Additionally participants must replenish, using newly found items, with a view to inspire others. This is a community, educational and audience immersive project learning from the doing.

The Artist Margaret Jennings studied foundation art at UAL Camberwell gaining a distinction and is currently studying BA Fine Arts at Goldsmiths University of London.

The Giving and Taking Back Living Library was exhibited June to July 2014 at Goldsmiths University Library and at the Menier Gallery. In November the Library moves to Greenwich University.

For more information ring Margaret on 07788 928 569 or e-mail, also more information can be found at under the events calendar June & July and library blog & events.

DEPTFORD XFRINGE Arts Festival, MMX Gallery, 448 New Cross Road, SE14 6TY.

For more information ring Margaret Jennings on 07788 928 569 or e-mail

Press View – 11am, Friday 26th September. Private View – 6pm – 8pm ish Friday 26th September including “Beautiful World” vocal performance and rubbish raffle.

12noon – 6pm, 26th September – Sunday 5th October 2014.

Old Mother Earth helped out by Lewisham’s Clean & Green schools!

The last week in July saw another triumphant end to 2014 environmental programme for Lewisham’s schools, Clean & Green.  Each year, up to 25 schools in the borough sign up for the year long programme with the aim of increasing environmental awareness in their school through initiatives such as food growing, litter clean ups, recycling collection schemes.  The sky really is the limit as schools are awarded at the end of the academic year for the most original and ingenious ways that they have come up with to help improve the environment of the school and surrounding areas.

Schools work on the programme from October to June, concentrating on their chosen theme and at the end of the year, they submit an entry showing what they have managed to achieve.  Support is given along the way in the form of  visits and assemblies. And as recognition of their hard work an award ceremony takes place in the Civic Suite, Catford, attended by representatives from the school and Lewisham’s local dignitaries in late July.

This years awards were presented by Cllr Rachel Onikosi – Cabinet Member for Public Realm and Nigel Tyrell – Head of Environment at Lewisham.  The afternoon included a lunch for the children and teachers and an environmental performance called ‘Old Mother Earth’.

Actors Nichola and Barney from Caboodle Arts performing 'Old Mother Earth'

Actors Nichola and Barney from Caboodle Arts performing ‘Old Mother Earth’

This years programme saw more excellent work from all the schools who took part, but particularly, the schools who managed to achieve awards who were – Coopers Lane, Haseltine, Holbeach, Watergate, St Augustines, Edmund Waller & Good Shepherd Primary Schools.  St Winifreds Catholic and Stillness Infant Schools also managed to secure Gold awards.

All Saints Primary School was presented with the overall runner up award for their efforts to encourage the whole school and local neighbourhood to use more sustainable forms of transport.  However, the overall winner of this years programme was Horniman Primary School who won the Clean & Green Distinction Award and a cheque for £300 for their pedal powered radio station which children, parents and teachers built in their school playground!

Cleanest and Greenest!  Cllr Rachel Onikosi presents Horniman students Keir Holmes,  Marnie Paul, Jacob Waters with award and cheque for the school.

Cleanest and Greenest! Cllr Rachel Onikosi presents Horniman students Keir Holmes, Marnie Paul, Jacob Waters with award and cheque for the school.

If you are a child, teacher or parent at a Lewisham school and would like more information on taking part in next years programme, please email or visit for more information.

Refuse and Recycling collection arrangements during the August Bank Holiday

There will be changes to your refuse and recycling collections for the week commencing Monday 25th August 2014


     Normal Collection day      Revised collection day
 Week commencing 25th August
  • Monday 25th August
  • Tuesday 26th August
  • Tuesday 26th August
  • Wednesday 27th August
  • Wednesday 27th August
  • Thursday 28th August
  • Thursday 28th August
  • Friday 29th August
  • Friday 29th August
  • Saturday 30th August


Don't forget to put your bins out if you want a collections over Easter

Don’t forget to put your bins out if you want a collections over the August Bank Holiday.

 Please make sure you bins are out for collection on your

revised collection day. Remember, if the bins are not at the boundary or inside edge of your property on collection day, we will assume that you are on holiday or do not require a collection.

 Usual service will resume the week beginning Monday 1st September 2014

All collections due to weather permitting


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