Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


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Forget Turtle Doves and Leaping Lords – here’s our 12 tips of Christmas……

After three, 1, 2, 3

On the first day of Christmas my true love……..

OK, there’s no need to break into song, but as an alternative to this festive ditty, the Recycle for Lewisham team have done away with swimming swans and piping pipers and are offering our very own 12 tips of Christmas.  These are just a few things that you as a Lewisham resident can do to make your yuletide that bit greener and better for the environment.  So let’s get started…

1. Make sure you have access to a recycling bin over Christmas so that you’re able to recycle all your cans, paper, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, mixed plastics and beverage cartons. You can order a new recycling bin by clicking on the following link: http://goo.gl/UFGktq

Please make good use of your recycling bins during the Christmas period.

Please make good use of your recycling bins during the Christmas period.

2. Transform your Christmas leftovers with these inventive roast turkey sandwich ideas.

Loving food and hating waste. Make good use of that turkey.

Loving food and hating waste. Make good use of that turkey.

Turkey, Cream Cheese and Bacon Sandwich – Smoky bacon and chive cream cheese make this a perfect Boxing Day breakfast or if you are feeling a little healthier, how about making a Turkey, Watercress and Apple Sandwich – Thinly sliced apples lend a crisp sweetness to this tasty treat.

3. Once the presents have been opened, turkey eaten and the Christmas tree is looking a bit bare, remember it can have a new lease of life by taking it to one of 12 Christmas tree drop off points at local parks around the borough where it will be turned into mulch: http://goo.gl/wFk3LE

Please make use of the collection points to recycle your Christmas tree.

Please make use of the collection points to recycle your Christmas tree.

4. Why buy all that expensive wrapping paper when newspaper and magazines will do just the same? Why not add some string and ribbons and a home-made tag as well and be more creative this Christmas.

These are wrapped in newspaper with the addition of some ribbon and nice tags - simple.

These are wrapped in newspaper with the addition of some ribbon and nice tags – simple.

5. Has someone just given you a beautifully wrapped present, with lovely paper and ribbons? Unwrap it carefully and save the paper and decorations to use later!

Wrapping paper and ribbon can be used again.

Wrapping paper and ribbon can be used again.

6. Do you need to make space for all of the new DVDs, CDs and books that you will be receiving this Christmas? Why not donate your old ones to your local charity shop, or if they are a classic titles you can make a bit of cash by selling them at car boot sales or online using sites such as Amazon and Play.com

Sell or giveaway old books and CD's that you no longer want.

Sell or giveaway old books and CD’s that you no longer want.

7. Did you get a Christmas jumper or item of clothing that you can’t see yourself wearing? Not to worry, these can be reused through a charity shop or deposited at one of the many textile banks across the borough:  See locations here:  http://goo.gl/i38qmY

Our textiles banks will take all manner of clean clothes.

Our textile banks will take all manner of clean clothes.

8. Tired of trying to eat up all those left over roasted vegetables after Christmas? Turn it into a delicious soup and freeze it for later – see the link below but remember, you can use all sorts of roasted veg for this! http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes/roasted-sweet-potato-soup-paprika

Use up all those vegetables by making some lovely soup.

Use up all those vegetables by making some lovely soup.

9. Plan on having cheese platters out at your Christmas parties? Always place out less than what you think is needed and keep the rest in the fridge – you can always top up the plate if needed later. If you’ve got too much left over, you can even freeze cheese either as a whole block or grated… it’s up to you!

Don't eat all your cheese in one go. Store it and use it later.

Don’t eat all your cheese in one go. Store it and use it later.

10. Christmas is the perfect time for getting that compost bin. With all the food preparation that will happening, you’ll need somewhere to deposit all those peelings from the fruit and vegetables.  It could be the start of your New Years resolution to start being greener. The compost bins are free as well: http://goo.gl/ub4Wc6

Mr Compost says 'Come along and learn how to make some good quality compost for your garden.'

Mr Compost says ‘Why not get a compost bin this Christmas and new year and start composting.’

11. Some Christmas cards are too nice to throw away, so why don’t you turn them into gift tags to use the following Christmas. It takes just minutes to do, and with a bit of care they can come out looking every bit as nice as ones you can buy in the shops.

Get those scissors out and start chopping up those cards - in the New Year of course.

Get those scissors out and start chopping up those cards – in the New Year of course.

12. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger as well. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run. Broken small appliances can be taken to one of our WEEE banks  http://goo.gl/73tm3k  or our Reuse and Recycling Centre:  http://goo.gl/n6NbrO

Batteries can be recycled in libraries and supermarkets across the borough.

Batteries can be recycled in libraries and supermarkets across the borough.


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Working with recycling crews to tackle contamination

Over the last few weeks, the recycling department has been going out with crews to see some of the issues they face whilst carrying out their collection duties. We are trying to work closer with the crews to tackle the main issue of contamination as it causes the most problems for the Council.

The recycling crews have been told to check the recycling bins before they are loaded into the truck to ensure that everything in them conforms to the sticker which every household should have on their bin. They are looking out for items such as black sacks which are a problem as the crews don’t know what’s inside the sack. This could range from food and nappy waste through to green garden waste.

The crews are working together to tackle issues with contamination.

The crews are working together to tackle issues with contamination.

All these are a problem for a number of reasons. Food and garden waste is wet and soggy and will start to smell if it’s been left in a wheelie bin for over a week. If this isn’t spotted, or a resident tries to hide the waste underneath the recycling, then it will get tipped into a recycling truck.

If this happens, the waste will be compacted and the wet, smelling contaminants will spread throughout the load and render the hard work of other recyclers void as much of the recycling won’t be used and will instead have to go for incineration.

As well as garden, food and nappy waste, many people think that items such as wood can be recycled at the materials recovery facility. This is incorrect. Whilst wood can be recycled by being chipped and turned into other products, putting it into the recycling bins is not the right way of achieving this. If wood, broken brollies, old electrical equipment, baby’s buggy’s, pieces of furniture and polystyrene amongst many other items are put into the recycling bins, then the bin is being contaminated.

"It's all about the team work."

Steve’s team collects the large bins on estates.

When this happens, our crew will tag the bin so that the resident is aware of the issue. The address is taken down and a letter is sent to the resident explaining why the bin wasn’t collected and what they need to do. If the contamination behaviour continues, then another letter is distributed. If a third letter is distributed following the continuation of the contamination, the Council will take action and remove the bin entirely. A letter will be sent to the resident notifying them of this action.

The taking away of the bin however is a last resort and we’d prefer to work with residents in the first instance to get them using the bins correctly before we get to this stage. As a general rule of thumb for those that aren’t sure of what can be recycled, we say that if the item that you want to recycle doesn’t appear on the sticker of the bin, then please don’t put it into your recycling bin and use your regular refuse bin instead.


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Taking a closer look at contamination of recycling bins

Lewisham Council’s operations team, all the team members involved in waste education, the contracts manager looking after the Bywaters contract and the Strategic Waste Manager are always looking for ways to tackle the issue of contamination within the recycling bins in the borough.

Before we go into the role we want residents to play in helping the Council tackle the issue of contamination, let’s start by looking more closely at what contamination actually means. When we say that a bin has been contaminated, we mean that there are items in the recycling bin that really should not be in there and which the materials recovery facility (Bywaters) do not actually want.

We recently put a sticker on every 240 litre recycling wheelie bin across the entire borough clearly stating what can go into the bin. The sticker uses photographs, symbols and text to illustrate what we want our residents to do when it comes to using the recycling bins correctly.

Putting the correct materials in the recycling bin will help us tackle the contamination issue.

As well as a sticker, the Council have also produced a small booklet which was distributed to all kerbside properties. Like the sticker, it gave clear instructions about what can go into the recycling bin and what happens to the recycling after the crews empty the bins.

We have also put information on to our recycling vehicles, in the Lewisham Life magazine, on the Council’s website as well as this blog. We’ve sent out press releases and used JC Decaux signs to spread the message further and also used Twitter to highlight the issue to around 900 followers.

Our recycling crews are also helping us by identifying offending recycling bins, putting a red tag on them and then letting us know so that we can write to the residents concerned in a bid to work together to tackle this issue. We then write to a resident 3 times if they are persistently contaminating the bin and on the 4th time will explain that we are taking the recycling bin away. We need to do this to stop the contamination.

But, despite all these measures, we’re still not quite on top of the issue. Our crews are still coming across bins that are filled with garden waste or worse still, food waste. Food waste causes problems as it smells, it’s usually wet and will spread to other materials when compacted in the vehicles. Cardboard and paper covered in food waste understandably affects the quality of the material and ultimately the value and price of it.

Blacks sacks are still being seen in the recycling bins on a regular basis. Whilst plastic sacks on their own (providing they are empty and clean) are fine, many people are still putting full black sacks in the recycling bins. The problem with this is that our crews cannot tear them open or check every bag due to time and health and safety considerations and if the sacks do contain general refuse, we will again have quality issues with the materials.

Bywaters recently showed us some images from one of our loads that contained a lots of polystyrene. This is another material that cannot be recycled and doesn’t belong in the recycling bin. If people do have lots of polystyrene, then simply put this into your domestic refuse bin where it will be incinerated at the South East London Combined Heat and Power plant (SELCHP) in New Cross. Some people might think they are doing the right thing and that a home or market will be sought at the recycling plant for this material, but this is not the case. It will be flagged up as a problem load, the offending material will then need to be removed and subsequently transported for disposal with the costs being passed on to us. This applies to many materials that we find in the recycling bins.

After Bywaters have sorted and separated the materials, they are sold to reprocessors. Prices for these materials vary depending on current market conditions. Good quality, clean materials will be more readily accepted and be sold much easier, poor quality contaminated materials won’t be.

Our message to our residents is to only put the items that are stated on the new bin stickers and follow the information in the new booklets that were distributed to kerbside properties. Residents on estates or flats will have received a similar booklet and an additional bag to help transport materials to their nearest recycling bins. For those with any doubts about what can go into the recycling bins (including clear sacks), please click on the following: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/Pages/What-can-I-put-in-my-recycling-bin.aspx


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Recycle Week in Lewisham 2012

June 18th – 24th was National Recycle Week  and was an opportunity for the Environment and Community Development (ECD) Team to promote recycling to the residents of the borough. Social media was used to send out endless tweets giving facts about plastic bottles (this years theme) as well as other facts to encourage people to recycle more or even start recycling for the first time.

Several different events took place by way of raising awareness of recycling generally, but also to keep putting the message out that the Council are now able to recycle more materials such as beverage cartons, shredded paper, textiles and mixed plastics on top of the usual paper, cardboard, cans, plastic bottles and glass.

As part of the acivities, we took a group of pensioners from the Lewisham Pensioners Forum to the materials recycling facility (MRF) so that they were able to witness at first hand how all the various materials were separated and sorted using an efficient mechanised process that also includes a great deal of hand sorting.

As well as this, Council staff took out its recycling trailer twice during the week to the Lewisham shopping centre where a builders bag was used to collect ‘on the go’ recycling from the commuters and shoppers who were out and about in the high street.  As well as collecting cans and sandwich packs, there were also a lot of plastic bottles collected. This was also an opportunity to engage with our residents to promote the recycling of plastic bottles and to answer any queries they had about recycling and waste issues generally.

A resident visits us at our recycling trailer

Some of the items collected in the builders bag from shoppers and commuters.

Whilst these activities were taking place, we had also been in touch with an art organisation called Platform-7 to organise another event that we wanted to take place during Recycle Week. The event was called Deluge (see story further down) which took place at the old Blockbusters store in Rushey Green, Catford. The focus here was on the ‘politics of the videocassette, obsolescence and recycling. ‘ Academics from Goldsmiths University gave mini lectures on obsolescence and packaging. Paul Halliday, a lecturer from Goldsmiths was exhibiting his art installation at the Blockbusters store. This was a large spooled out mass of video tape from around 600 old video tapes that were collected as part of the project. Whilst Platform-7 were using the disused shop (courtesy of Lewisham Council), they were encouraging residents to still use it as a drop off point for all their unwanted videos which people were more than happy to do. Just like the old days. Looking at the  the mass of spooled out tape was like staring at an advancing oil slick in the large open space of the Blockbuster store.

The spooled out tape from 600 video tapes. More were collected and will be recycled.

The Council also called upon the services of WEEE Man who turned up to promote the collecting of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) . As well as using Blockbusters for collecting video tapes, it was also being used as a drop off point  for old electrical waste and several items of WEEE were collected as part of this.

WEEE Man deep in video tape at Deluge

The spooling mass of tape could be seen 24 hours a day through the window with the night lights and assisting fans giving the installation a different look in the dark evening.

The drop off point for video tapes. WEEE Man drops off his old Terminator films.

All tapes, items of WEEE, the recyclables collected in the builders bag in the high street will all be recycled at the end of Recycle Week.


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Roll out of new recycling bin stickers begins

Work has begun on putting new stickers on all of Lewisham’s recycling bins so that residents will have a clear and easy guide as to what can now be recycled in the borough.

Member of the bin stickering team at work

 From December 2011, the Council started a new contract with the contractor Bywaters in Bow,East London. Under this new contract the Council are able to recycle more materials, which means that you can now recycle, paper, cardboard, glass, cans, plastic bottles, textiles, mixed plastics, shredded paper and beverage cartons (tetra paks). Please make sure all of the above are clean before putting them into your recycling bin.

 The teams that are putting the stickers onto the bins are currently in the Lee area and will be gradually making their way around the rest of the borough to ensure that all residents 240 litre recycling bins receive a sticker. The sticker clearly illustrates exactly what can go into the recycling bins using photographs to ensure we get the message to everyone about the new materials.

 With the Council now receiving an income for everything that is recycled, it is more important than ever for all the residents of the borough to recycle as much of their waste as they can.

With regard to the recycling of textiles, if they are in good condition, we would recommend that they go to a charity shop in the first instance. However, if you feel that they might not be worth giving to a charity shop, then please use your recycling bin.


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Estates recycling update

We’ve previously reported on the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) estates recycling programme http://ow.ly/8s8Tc . With the start of 2012, and the programme well underway and making good progress, it seemed the right time to give an update on the scheme so far.

 This Monday saw the environmental organisation Waste Watch come to the Wearside depot to spend a day with their team of experienced recycling advisors. The day was a chance to refresh the recycling advisors on the issues of health and safety when door knocking and also to learn all about the new estates recycling programme in Lewisham and the new materials that can now be recycled in the borough.  The recycling advisors will also be making a visit to the  Bywaters materials recycling facility this Monday to see what happens to all the materials as they get processed.  This will help them to explain to residents what happens to the materials after they are put in the recycling bin.

New sign and brand new bins on the Sydenham Hill estate

The role of the recycling advisors is to visit 30,000 properties on all estates, small blocks and new developments across the borough. They will be knocking on the doors of estates residents and talking to them about recycling in Lewisham, how you can now recycle beverage cartons, mixed plastics and even textiles.

 As well as the recycling advisors making door to door visits, 5 estates have also been given brand new bins and additional signage in a bid to improve the participation in recycling on those estates as well as to increase the tonnages. Increasing the tonnages will benefit the Council in two ways. Firstly, it will contribute to the overall recycling rate of the borough, but there is also the benefit of it raising an income for the Council. Under the new contract that the Council have with Bywaters, an income is generated for every tonne that is collected – a real incentive for all residents of the borough to recycle.

Another one of the 5 recycling sites on the Sydenham Hill estate

If you are a resident living on an estate, in a small block or new development, you might be receiving a knock on your door from one of the team of recycling advisors soon. If you do receive an estates recycling bag, please use this to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, cans, plastic bottles, mixed plastic, beverage cartons (Tetra Paks), textiles, aerosols and shredded paper.


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Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Recycle for Lewisham have put together some tips and hints on how you can have a great Christmas and be good to the environment. This will of course involve the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

There are many aspects of green thinking to consider when it comes to Christmas. For example, where to shop, what to buy and the type of Christmas tree to get and from where to get it amongst many others. Most of these decisions will have some impact on the environment.

Having a Green Christmas ©Digitalart

The following list is a bit of a guide and may help with some of those Christmas decisions,

  1. Where possible try to shop locally. If you are shopping for food then Lewisham does have some great markets for fruit and veg, the following link has more details http://ow.ly/7GNlb . As well as these there are other markets and farmers markets to consider, more details can be found on the following link http://ow.ly/7GNoI Supporting your local shops will also keep your community thriving and put something back into the local economy.
  1. The purchasing of a Christmas tree can leave people wondering what their best options are. Artificial trees may last for years but aren’t recyclable and require manufacturing and use man made materials. Real trees are carbon neutral and can be chipped and composted afterwards so are much better for the environment. Some organisations such as www.caringchristmastrees.com and www.christmasforest.co.uk are involved in supporting good causes and may deliver direct. Recycling points for Christmas trees can be found here http://ow.ly/7SVVc
  1. Once you’ve made the decision about your tree, the next thing you might want to think about is decorating it. If you are using fairy light lights, why not consider low energy LED lights? What about using mistletoe, holly with their different coloured berries. Be more creative and consider making your own decorations.
  1. When buying presents, again think about shopping locally if you can. Are the presents that you’re buying good for the environment. Could you buy a wind up radio or wind up mp3 player or similar and can you wrap these in recycled wrapping paper?
  1. Christmas cards can all be recycled, some schools may even take them for a school art projects and they can raise money for some charities if dropped off at the right collections boxes.
  1. Food and drink also plays a large part in the Christmas festivities. This of course generates huge amounts of waste, particularly with paper, cardboard, glass bottles, jars and plastic bottles. Please use your recycling bin to collect all these materials. And don’t forget, we can now also collect mixed plastics, beverage cartons (Tetra Paks), textiles, aerosols and shredded paper. Where food is concerned, don’t forget to check out www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for lots of interesting ideas on using leftovers and don’t forget to compost all these peelings as well.
  1. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Christmas is a time when people receive new electrical appliances and gadgets. If you have an old appliance that still works, why not give it to a charity shop. If the item is broken, why not use one of our WEEE banks to dispose of it or take it to our Reuse and Recycle Centre. See the following link for the locations of our WEEE banks https://recycleforlewisham.com/2011/02/11/small-appliance-banks/
  1. Finally, if you’re not fully committed to the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, why not make 2012 the time to start. Your recycling will even generate an income for the Council.

The recycling team at Lewisham Council would also like to say a big thank you to everyone in the borough for supporting all the recycling and environmental services in 2011 and look forward to their support in 2012.