Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham

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Going bananas and getting creative for Fairtrade Fortnight!

Bananas are a hot topic as this years Fairtrade Fortnight (24th February to 9th March) centered around the campaign to make bananas fair. Lewisham got into the swing of things with a number of events throughout the fortnight including a supper at the Catford Canteen, discussions by banana farmers at both Goldsmiths University and the Horniman Museum. Lewisham schools also got on board with Kilmorie school hosting a Banana themed Fairtrade breakfast and cake sale and the boroughs Clean & Green schools took part in a Fairtrade poster competition.

A Fairtrade banana tells people about the plight of the banana farmers at at Horniman Park.

A Fairtrade banana tells people about the plight of the banana farmers at Horniman Park.

Prices for bananas has been driven lower because of a price war from supermarkets to entice shoppers by offering the fruit cheaply. The effect of this has been to push the price paid to the banana producers to 40% less over the last ten years at a time when the cost of producing bananas has increased. This not only has a detrimental effect on the wages and working conditions for farmers but encourages them to intensify banana production. Environmental problems such as soil exhaustion and increased water use also have the potential to effect the land.

Leona Garrick of St Winifreds Catholic Infant School with teacher Mrs Abbs and Councillor Susan Wise

Leona Garrick of St Winifreds Catholic Infant School with teacher Mrs Abbs and Councillor Susan Wise

Leona Garrick produced this years winning poster design which will be seen out and about in the borough on one of our recycling vehicles! For more information about Fairtrade, please visit:

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WEEE Week 2013 – Another Successful Year

Monday October 21st saw the start of WEEE Week 2013 and the first school that we visited was Holbeach Primary School in Catford. A typical visit starts with signing in at the school reception, before being shown the hall or gym where the assembly will take place.

Cllr Susan Wise, children from Torridon Junior School (David Eidenas, Charlotte Chambers, Mark Masara & Ayomide Adako) and of course WEEE Man

Cllr Susan Wise, children from Torridon Junior School (David Eidenas, Charlotte Chambers, Mark Masara & Ayomide Adako) and of course WEEE Man

Once the laptop, sound and screen have all been set up and tested, the children start to come in. Once settled, the WEEE presentation begins and there is lots of opportunities for the children to participate by answering questions. Children are told about the recycling of paper, cardboard, bottles, cans and mixed plastics etc before being told about what to do with electronic waste.

They are then shown the short WEEE Man film which they enjoy very much and is the perfect opportunity to build up the tension for the appearance of WEEE Man himself. This takes one of two shouts from the assembled children before WEEE Man emerges from a hidden corner, behind a curtain, a cupboard or side room. With lights on and a menacing brooding walk into the room, WEEE Man can cut a quite scary figure – so much so that younger members of the audience have been known to get a little upset at times.

WEEE Man is a dark silent figure that identifies himself with the likes of The Terminator and serves as a visual reminder for children to bring in redundant electrical items from their homes, i.e. old hairdryers, radios, toasters, heaters, DVD players etc. Children are genuinely fascinated by his appearance and ask lots of questions about him and the recycling of electronic waste in general. Questions like ‘Is he real?’ Answer ‘Yes, of course he is’ and ‘where is he from?’ Answer ‘The future’

WEEE Man watches over as the children drop their unwanted electrical items in the WEEE bin.

WEEE Man watches over as the children drop their unwanted electrical items in the WEEE bin.

We tell the children that he is only able to stay for a short time and after a few minutes he disappears behind the door or curtain where he made his entrance to the cries of ‘bye WEEE Man’ from all the assembled children.

All the children in the school are then given a flyer which they take home to their parents to see if they have any redundant electrical items at home which they can bring along and deposit in the WEEE bins which we had delivered to all the schools before WEEE Week started.

After visiting Holbeach School on Monday morning, we then visited Torridon School on Tuesday where again the children gave WEEE Man a very warm reception (pictured above). Wednesday saw WEEE Man at Athelney Primary School before going to Horniman Primary School where it took several shouts from the children before WEEE Man appeared which added extra tension to the event. Our final school was the Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School where WEEE Man surprised the assembly by coming out of a room at the back of the hall and catching all the children off guard.

We are hoping that all the bins will collect a healthy amount of electronic waste which is a valuable resource. These items shouldn’t be put into the recycling bin as this will be classed as contamination, nor should they go into the refuse bin, as this will be incinerated and the resources lost.

For those people that want to recycle their old electronic items, we have WEEE banks in the borough, please see the following link: or you can use our Reuse and Recycle Centre:

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A bit of London Fashion Week comes to Lewisham

Once the media have finished clambering for stories associated with London Fashion week, they’ll turning their attention to the next big event in the fashion calendar. That will be the Big Swish Event that will be taking place in Lewisham Shopping Centre a week later.

Already the event is generating a great deal of interest and momentum with lots of people contacting the recycling team to ask about when it all starts and what kind of clothes to bring along to swish with. Several bags of quality clothing have already been collected and this week, so Councillor Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services came to our offices to give us a hand in sorting some of them out.

Councillor Susan Wise helps with sorting clothes for the swishing event.

Councillor Susan Wise helps with sorting clothes for the swishing event.

On the day of the event, we are planning on having a selection of children’s, men’s and women’s clothing to swish with. Anybody can take part in the event, you simply need to turn up with an item of clothing that you no longer want or need or that’s been sitting in the wardrobe for some time. Just bring this along and then simply choose another item as a replacement – and voilà! you have swished. Couldn’t be easier

The event is being staged to raise the profile of textile recycling, and whilst we collect textiles in the recycling bins, we would prefer residents to use our textile banks where there would a better chance of keeping the quality of the item intact. Residents can also choose to take textiles to charity shops if they wish.

The event will be taking place at the site of the old Ponti’s restaurant in the shopping centre between 10am and 4pm on the 27th September. 10 other local authorities have also been invited as they were part of the huge tendering exercise that Lewisham Council led on that saw all the authorities getting a much better price for all the textiles collected. Heidi Alexander MP will also be lending her support to the event and will be popping in around 12.30pm. Details of where all our banks are located can be found below.

Find a bank near you and drop off your textiles.

Find a bank near you and drop off your textiles.

Please come along with clothes that you would like to swish with and enjoy the fun day out.

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WEEE Man wins award at Westminster

On Monday 14th November Lewisham Council was recognised by The Green Organisation as this year’s most innovative London Borough for their recycling superhero WEEE Man. The Green Organisation is an independent, non-political, non-activist, non-profit environment group dedicated to recognising, rewarding and promoting environmental best practice around the world.

They awarded us GOLD at this year’s Green Apple Awards at the award ceremony that was held at the House of Commons in the River Terrace Pavillion Function Room. Councillor Susan Wise and Lewisham Council officer Dave Brinson (who incidentally bears an uncanny resemblance to WEEE Man) picked up the award on behalf of the Council. They were presented with the award by celebrity dog lovers the K-9 Angels.

The K9 Angel’s with Dave Brinson and Cllr Susan Wise at the House of Commons.

WEEE Man has come back from the future in order to educate Lewisham’s residents and school children about how to dispose of their old electrical items responsibly. He takes his name from the European Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directive. And for any of you who aren’t familiar with WEEE Man or if you just fancy watching the UK’s favourite superhero (in our opinion anyway) in action again just press play on the video below.

Dave gives the Green Apple award to WEEE Man for photograph session.

So what’s next for WEEE Man? Well, we are already looking towards next year and working with schools again to raise the profile of  electrical and electronic waste.  We are looking for schools who are willing to take part in collecting electronic waste and hopefully allow a visit by our recycling superhero WEEE Man.

If your local school in Lewisham would like to get involved next year, please contact Paddy Swift via email:


Visits to Bywaters and Closed Loop

On 16th December, 2011 a contingent from Lewisham Council visited our new dry recyclables contractor Bywaters (Leyton) Ltd. The contingent included the Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, Cabinet member for Customer Services, Cllr Susan Wise, Executive Director for Customer Services, Kevin Sheehan and members of staff from the recycling team.

From left to right: Michael Pusey (Bywaters), Kevin Sheehan, Executive Director for Customer Services (Lewisham), John Glover (MD Bywaters), Cllr Susan Wise, Mayor Steve Bullock and David Rumble (Bywaters)

 The visit to the materials recycling facility (MRF) was a chance for everyone to see what happens to the contents of the recycling bins when they are tipped by the Council’s collection vehicles at the east London plant.

 The tour of the MRF was conducted by David Rumble, Bywaters Strategic Development Manager who explained all the different procedures that the materials have to go through to separate everything into its component parts until the final baling process at the end. To ensure that the materials are of a premium quality and therefore command higher prices, Bywaters employ two separate teams of hand sorters who pick and sort from the fast moving conveyers all the items that shouldn’t be on that particular line. The removed materials are then added to another stream for that particular material where again they are collected in bulk and then baled.

View of part of the Bywaters materials recycling facility (MRF)

 Bywaters have been very pleased with what they have received so far from Lewisham. However, that doesn’t mean that we are by any means the perfect recycling borough and always need to be vigilant when it comes to keeping on top of any potential contamination. Bins that are contaminated with food or garden waste will cause big problems at the sorting process as it will be wet and will smell and so ruin any potential for any material that has been collected and stored with it to be recycled.

 We will be working more closely with Bywaters over the contract period to implement measures to improving much of what goes into the recycling bin and also to get more people involved in the process so that we can increase tonnages.

 After the Bywaters trip, the rest of the recycling team went on to visit Closed Loop in Dagenham who receive plastic bottles from Bywaters. This was a very interesting tour and gave everyone the opportunity to see how all the plastic bottles are dealt with after leaving the MRF process. We witnessed how they were able to separate the lids from the plastic bottles using a tank. In flake form, they were able to separate them as one floated and the other sank. There was a huge emphasis on running all the flakes through as many cleaning processes as possible to make sure every last trace of metal was removed as a great deal of the flakes were destined for the dairy market and the production of new milk bottles.