Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


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.



New locks coming to a recycling bin near you!

If you take your recycling to large communal bins, over the next few months, you may notice new, more secure locks appearing on the recycling bins that you use.

Locks on bins

Why do we need locks on recycling bins?

Most residents are very careful to ensure that the right things go into the right bins. Unfortunately though, some bins still do get items put into them that can’t be recycled in Lewisham- black bin bags being one of the biggest culprits!

The new locks will prevent the whole lid from being opened, making the dumping of non recycling items  like filled black sacks, much more difficult. Lids will remain the same, most of them with slots which can be lifted so that acceptable recyclable items such as cartons & tins (rinsed of any food), empty aerosols, clothing, glass and folded card and paper can be placed through.

If you live on an estate and use communal recycling facilities, you should get a leaflet through your door soon to tell you more about this. There is also a competition which you can enter to win a shopping voucher- so keep an eye out for it on your door mat!

If you need any more information about what you can place into your recycling bin, please visit our website . If you want to know more about the bin locks, please email or

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How can I recycle if I live on an estate?

As a continuation from a previous posting about what can go into your recycling bin, we venture onward with our You Tube infomercials and today we are covering the topic of how to recycle if you live on an estate.  As a little bit of background to this,  the recycling team visited some estates recently with the recycling crews to see how the bins are performing.  Overall most were good and filled with the right materials, however many had some rogue elements in there like wood and even a broken child’s pushchair/buggy was found in one.  So please ensure that you follow all the information on the signs and stickers on the bins when recycling using the estates bins. More information below,


New stickers on estates recycling bins

Now that all of the wheelie bins have received a sticker notifying residents of what materials can go into the recycling bins, its now the turn of all the bins on estates, small blocks and new developments. As most people are now aware, you can now recycle tins, glass bottles and jars, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, mixed plastics, beverage cartons (tetra-paks) and also textiles.

New stickers are now appearing on all large bins across the entire borough.

New stickers are now appearing on all large bins across the entire borough.

Whilst we are very clear about what we want people to put into the recycling bins, we are also very clear about what we don’t want people to put into the recycling bins as well. Last week Council staff spent 3 days at the materials recovery facility (MRF) at the Bywaters plant in east London, where all the recyclable materials go to check on contamination levels. Whilst generally speaking things were looking OK, there were some loads that we would sooner not have seen. One particular load contained all manner of food waste which by the time it came to the sorting process was looking and smelling very rancid indeed. Included in this particular load was several nappies and other vegetable matter.

Loads with this level of contamination cause lots of problems at the sorting facility as the wet food waste leaks and contaminates other parts of the load rendering them unrecyclable.  When loads come in like this, the recycling facility can and do reject them which means it will end up being incinerated with all revenue being lost.

We are asking all residents now to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to making sure the right materials end up in the recycling bin.  Our crews are also doing their part by checking bins and where they see bins that they suspect are contaminated, they will tag them to ensure they don’t end up in the back of the recycling truck and spoil the good work of the rest of the residents.

As has been stated in previous blog stories and tweets that have been put out, the simplest way to ensure that you are putting the right thing in the recycling bin is to check the bin sticker on the lid. If the item that you want to recycle does not appear on that sticker, then please use your refuse bin instead.  We also ask people to give tins and jars a quick rinse to ensure all materials are clean. To give an example of this, we witnessed a half full jar of jam in one load which was removed to stop it (pardon the pun) spreading to the rest of the load and causing further issues. If dirty items are put into the recycling bins, this will decrease their value.

If you are in any doubt about what can go into the recycling bin, please click on the following link