Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


Christmas time is here again…

I know, I know, it comes round so quickly, it only seems like a few months ago that you were Christmas shopping and hanging up your decorations. But like it or not, Christmas is here again and everyone in the recycling team (all three of us) will be doing our utmost to make the festive period a sustainable and environmentally friendly occasion.

So how do you prepare for a greener and more sustainable Christmas when you have to get a tree, put up decorations, buy lots of food and drink and buy and wrap lots of presents?

Here's some we did earlier in the office. These are wrapped in newspaper with the addition of some ribbon and nice tags - simple.

Can you believe these are wrapped in newspaper with the addition of some ribbon and nice tags – simple. Who needs Blue Peter?

Well, there are some measures you can take to try and reduce your impact on the Worlds resources at a time of mass consumerism. The following are some ideas and tips that we’ve put together from a wide range of sources that will help you reduce waste, tackle contamination (which is a massive problem in Lewisham) and make your food go a little further without wasting it.

One of the early purchases around Christmas time is the tree. What are the options when it comes to deciding on what type of tree to buy and where do you buy it from? Then when you have finished with it, what do you do with it?

Well, if you have an artificial tree that’s still in good condition, then use that. Whilst they are made of PVC and cannot be recycled, if you already have one, then it may as well be put to use. It can also be used year after year after year.

However, if you want a tree with the environment in mind, a real tree is the way forward. Christmas trees are farmed on land that is usually not suitable for other crops and are converted to mulch or wood chips after use leaving virtually no residual waste. Try to buy a UK tree which do provide a habitat for wildlife whilst growing. The best option would be a tree with a rootball intact that can be planted afterwards or kept in a container. More information on trees can be found here:

Buy a real tree and leave it at a collection point for mulching.

You could buy a real tree and leave it at a collection point for mulching or use an artificial one if you already have one.

So the tree is up, now the decorations. What about re-purposing old decorations? Sleigh bells from last year that adorned a wreath that you don’t use any more can go on your tree and save you money. Also, if every family reused just two feet of ribbon, the 28,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around planet Earth?

Cheap Christmas ornaments can be made from wine corks. These reindeers for example are cheap and easy to make.

Cheap and fun craft ideas like these are simple to make.

Cheap and fun craft ideas like these are simple to make.

If you want to know how to make them, please see the following link. There are also other ideas on this site that can be used:

Once you have the tree and decorations up, you’ll start thinking about food and drink over the Christmas period. The Recycling Team can’t stress enough how useful the Love Food Hate Waste message is. Figures show that Britons throw out the equivalent of 2m turkeys, 5m Christmas puddings and 74m mince pies.

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

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

If you’re unsure of what to do with leftover turkey, vegetables, mince pies or the odd spare Christmas pudding, then fear not, there is a website that can help with all of these things. The Love Food Hate Waste website has been set up to inform and educate people about the enormous waste of food that goes on everyday. There’s also an enormous amount of recipe ideas which everyone will find very useful, see the link here:

And don’t forget to compost. All manner of peelings are generated over Christmas which your compost bin will devour. Its simple and easy.

As for the drink, whilst that will keep and won’t be in danger of going off quickly, there are things to think about when it comes to the packaging of those drinks. Christmas generates enormous amounts of plastic and glass bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.

Bottles, cans, paper, glass and cardboard only. No food or garden waste please.

Bottles, cans, paper, glass and cardboard only. No food or garden waste please as that causes problems here at the sorting facility.

These can all be recycled using your recycling bin. One thing to remember however is to ensure everything that goes in there is clean and contamination free. Please do not use the recycling bin for food waste, garden waste and also for textiles. The latter can go into a textile bank or a charity shop. Please use the following link to find out exactly what can go into your recycling bin:

After prolonged partying you eventually make it through Christmas and start the new year with lots of optimism. One of the first things to think about is when you take your real Christmas tree down, what are you going to do with it? Well, if you live near a Lewisham park, why not bring it along and leave it at a designated spot. From here we will collect it and turn it into mulch which will be used on the parks and gardens across the borough. The list of parks where trees can be left is on the following link:

And finally, there’s just the New Years resolution to make. You could start the year on a much greener footing and say that you will recycle more this year and make all efforts to stop contamination of the recycling bins? Did we mention this was a problem?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Lewisham residents.

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Christmas and New Year refuse and recycling collection times

Please be aware that there will be changes to your  refuse and recycling collections over the Christmas period for the week commencing Monday 21st December 2015 and again at the New Year the week commencing Monday 28th December 2015. See below for full details.

Week Commencing 21st December  
Normal Collection day Revised collection day
  • Monday 21st December
  • Monday 21st December
  • Tuesday 22nd December
·        Tuesday 22nd December
  • Wednesday 23rd December
·        Wednesday 23rd December
  • Thursday 24th December
·        Thursday 24th December
  • Friday 25th December
·        Sunday 27th December
Don't forget to put your bins out if you want a collections over Christmas and the New Year

Don’t forget to put your bins out if you want a collections over Christmas and the New Year

Week Commencing 28th December  
Normal Collection day Revised collection day
  • Monday 28th December
  • Tuesday 29th December
  • Tuesday 29th December
·        Wednesday 30th December
  • Wednesday 30th December
·        Thursday 31st December
  • Thursday 31st December
·        Saturday 02nd  January
  • Friday 01st January
·        Sunday 03rd January


Preventing contamination is important

The Recycling Team are continually trying to communicate to its residents about the importance of putting the right things into the recycling bins to prevent contamination. Make no mistake, recycling contamination is a major issue for the council.  When the wrong items such as food and garden waste get into the recycling bins, this not only affects the bin itself, but also the rest of the load when the wet food and garden waste along with its smell and capacity to soil everything is all compacted together in the recycling vehicle.

For those that want an idea of what compacted recycling looks like when it reaches the Viridor materials recycling facility (MRF), please see the short video clip below. This is what typically happens every day when Lewisham’s recycling vehicles reach capacity and then need to tip.

Now, if you can imagine having items in the load with a large moisture and smell content (food and garden waste for example), this will spread during the compaction process. When this happens, Viridor, the contractor that sorts and separates the collected materials, will simply see the load as spoiled and look at disposing of it via incineration as a lot of the value is lost when paper and cardboard becomes unusable and valueless. When this occurs, the council are left to pick up the additional costs that are associated with disposing of the contaminated loads elsewhere.

We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to put dry, clean and correct items into the recycling bin which will ensure everything is recycled and no additional costs are generated for the council.


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Recycling team busy at SELCHP’s annual Open House

On Sunday 20th September, the South East London Combined Heat and Power (SELCHP) plant in New Cross, opened its doors to the general public again as part of the annual Open House event that happens across the capital. For those who are not familiar with what SELCHP does or what it is, put simply, this is where all of the rubbish that goes into your black bin ends up. Once inside the SELCHP plant, all of this rubbish is incinerated.

The burning of rubbish and all of the processes involved with this is clearly something that many people are curious about as the event is very well attended. This is why Lewisham Council’s Recycling Team also attended so that they could speak to many of the attendee’s about waste and in particular recycling and composting.

Kate and Paddy from the Council's Recycling Team spoke to over 100 people throughout the day.

Kate and Paddy from the Council’s Recycling Team spoke to over 100 people throughout the day.

The dates of the Open House event fell quite fortuitously in the middle of Lewisham’s consultation ‘Let’s Talk Rubbish’ which started on the 21st July 2015 and runs until October 18th. The Council would like to know what you think about potential changes that are being proposed across the borough. Are you in favour of fortnightly refuse collections? Would you like to see food collections starting? And what about a subscription garden waste service, would that be something you’d participate in? If you haven’t filled in a survey yet, click on the following link, watch the short video and then tell us what you think:

The recycling trailer was kept busy all day long with inquiries about recycling and composting. This gave Kate and Paddy from Lewisham’s Recycling Team a chance to speak more in depth about the on going consultation to the Lewisham residents that attended. It was also an opportunity to tell people about the change in policy of collecting textiles. This is something that we want everyone in the borough to be made aware of. If you have textiles that you no longer want,  please use a textile bank to dispose of them or a charity shop. Otherwise they will be soiled and ruined beyond use and classed as contamination if they go inside of your recycling bin.


Flytippers Beware…

The Council’s Clean Streets (Enforcement) Team is continuing to work hard at combating environmental crime within Lewisham Borough. There is constant proactive enforcement activity taking place around all parts of the borough with a recent weekend waste operation being very successful in catching offenders in Catford, Deptford, Forest Hill, Lewisham & Sydenham.


Since 1st August 2015 over 100 individuals (including business owners) have been fined for waste offences committed borough wide. Officers have also issued more than 20 fines for fly-posting offences committed at various locations. Last week a major serial fly-tipper who had been blighting the Brockley Environment with his criminal activity was found guilty of fly-tipping at Bexley Magistrates Court and sentenced to a fine & costs just short of £3500.


Let’s Talk Rubbish

The Council want to hear what you think about changes that are on the way with the refuse and recycling services. Please tell us what you think. Full details on this can be found on the Council’s website on the following link:

Go online and tell us what you think

Go online and tell us what you think

The consultation runs until 21st October 2015.

Paper copies of the survey can be filled in at the SELCHP Open House event, Landmann Way, on 20th September and at some Lewisham libraries. These will be drop in sessions in Lewisham, Catford, Deptford and Downham libraries, although at Sydenham and Crofton Park libraries people can pop in during opening hours, see details below.


Tuesday 8th September – Lewisham Library 10am – 11am

Tuesday 8th September – Lewisham Library 7pm – 8pm


Friday 11th September – Catford Library – 1pm – 2pm

Saturday 12th September – Catford Library – 10am – 11am


Wednesday 9th September – Deptford Lounge library 2pm – 3pm

Wednesday 9th September – Deptford Lounge library 6.30pm – 7.30pm


Thursday 10th September – Downham Library – 11am – 12pm

Thursday 10th September – Downham Library – 6.30pm – 7.30pm

Sydenham & Crofton Park

During opening hours.

SELCHP Open House, Landmann Way

Sunday 20th September, 10am – 15pm.


Bank Holiday Refuse and Recycling Collection Changes

There will be changes to your  refuse and recycling collections for the week commencing Monday 31st August 2015.

Please bring your wheelie bins to the boundary of your property a day later if you require a collection

Please bring your wheelie bins to the boundary of your property a day later if you require a collection

Please see below revised collection dates

Week Commencing 31st August
Normal Collection day Revised collection day
  • Monday 31st August
  • Tuesday 01st September
  • Tuesday 01st September
·        Wednesday 02nd September
  • Wednesday 02nd September
·        Thursday 03rd September
  • Thursday 03rd September
·        Friday 04th September
  • Friday 04th September
·        Saturday 05th September

All collections due to weather permitting.