Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


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Improving Quality and Tackling Contamination

When it comes to recycling, there are a couple of things that are key that everybody needs to know. The first is ensuring that what goes into your recycling bin is of the highest quality. Viridor is the contractor that takes all the materials that go into the recycling bin. They run the materials recovery facility (MRF) in Sidcup and are at pains to point out the importance of quality. As they say, poor quality in means poor quality out.

So what do we mean when we talk about quality?

Well, what we are asking our residents to do is to only put the items in the recycling bin that we ask for and those items are:

  • Tins and cans; this also includes empty aerosols. Please ensure the tins are rinsed out as this improves the quality and stops your recycling bin from smelling.
  • Glass bottles and jars; empty wine and beer bottles, jam jars (rinsed out and clean), sauce bottles (rinsed out and clean). However we don’t want cooking dishes or Pyrex. These melt at different temperatures.
  • Plastic bottles; Fizzy drinks bottles, cleaning products bottles, shampoo and shower gel bottles (all clean and rinsed out). Take out any pumps as these are a mix of materials.
  • Plastic food containers; Yoghurt pots, margarine and ice cream tubs, vegetable punnets but not the black trays that meat is packaged in.
  • Paper and cardboard; this covers newspapers, magazines, leaflets. Not pizza boxes covered in grease. Quality is the key here. Everything must be clean.
  • Food and beverage cartons; these are often referred to as the brand Tetrapaks. Typically orange juice and soup will come in these. Again we would like to see these all clean.

As you may have noticed, the word clean crops up a lot in those descriptions and this is key when we talk about quality. Processors and sorting facilities don’t want items covered in food waste, grease and oils. The MRF needs to sell on the things that you put into your recycling bin and this becomes more difficult if the items are not clean and in the best quality they can be. If you have stained pizza boxes or items covered in food, please put these in your black residual waste bin.

Contaminated bin 1

Please recycle the correct items only. Please ensure there is no green, food or nappy waste

As an update to the above, please also remember that we no longer take textiles in the recycling bins. Textiles do not survive the compacting and tipping process. Clothes end up soiled and filthy and worthless. Please use charity shops or our textile banks if you have clothes that you no longer want. This route will ensure that the item will be recycled or reused.

The second issue which relates to the first is contamination. This is a major problem. So what do we mean when we say contamination? The images above and below are extreme examples of this, but essentially what we are saying is that we only want the items in the recycling bins that we ask for. Those are the items listed above.

If you are in any doubt about an item, please use your black residual bin to dispose of it.

Comtaminated bin 1

How not to recycle.

Badly contaminated bins can lead to full loads being rejected at the Viridor MRF and when this happens, the loads are taken for incineration which Lewisham Council have to pay additional fees for. Please help us avoid this happening by only recycling the correct items making sure that everything is clean.

Please see the guide below which show what you can and cannot recycle.
What can you recycle


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August Bank Holiday Collections

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend changes will be made to the collections of refuse and recycling. Generally most collections will be a day behind so please ensure that you have you bins out at the boundary of your property ready to be collected. With the garden waste bins, please ensure they are out on the street on the pavement so that our crews can see that they need collecting. Full details of the changes can be found in the table below.

Thank you for leaving bins at the edge

Refuse and Recycling collection arrangement during the Easter an


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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: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/Documents/WRServiceStd.pdf


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Digital Switched Over

On Wednesday 13th June Lewisham Council’s Recycling Team in partnership with The Lewisham Pensioners Forum organised and collected obsolete TVs from elderly residents in the Borough.

The collection was set up because the LP Forum identified the aftermath of the Digital Switch Over as being a real concern for some of their members. The collection was offered to any forum member who was unable to dispose of an obsolete TV themselves, whether due to mobility issues or because they had no one else in their lives who was able to help them.

Setting off bright and early in a Lewisham Transit Van the Recycling Team visited 26 different locations from all over the Borough before taking their bounty to The Reuse and Recycling Centre at Landmann Way in New Cross. The collections took all day, but luckily the roads were clear and everybody had their TVs removed on time (pretty much!) The final haul consisted of:

  • 46 TVs
  • 30 Household Batteries
  • 16 Remote Controls
  • 3 TV Stands
  • 2 VHS Players
  • 1 DVD Player
  • 1 CD Player

All electrical waste (WEEE) is removed from The Reuse and Recycling Centre by REPIC. They are the largest WEEE producer compliance scheme in the UK, and they ensure that all of the electrical items that are taken to Landmann Way are responsibly recycled.

If you would like further details on TV recycling and the Digital Switch Over please click here.

Please click here to go the Lewisham Pensioners Forum website.


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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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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.


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Boost for recycling as Lewisham chooses new contractor

Over the last few months, the Council have been involved in a lengthy tendering process to find a new contractor that will take and sort the comingled (mixed) recycling for the next 3 years. The process took several months and attracted a broad range of interest from contractors involved in recycling and waste management that were keen to work with the Council and to process and sell all of its mixed dry recyclables.

Residents have been asking us for some time now about collecting other materials in the recycling bins and green boxes. Materials such as mixed plastics (margarine tubs, yoghurt pots) and beverage cartons (Tetra Paks). This tendering process has enabled us to take those suggestions into consideration and include them in the tender documents.

Click to see full range of new materials for recycling in Lewisham

On October 5th 2011 the Mayor and Cabinet met and agreed to a new contractor taking over from the previous incumbent Veolia. The company that won the contract for the sale and sorting of mixed dry recyclables were Bywaters (Leyton) Ltd who are based in Bow, East London.

What this will mean for the residents of Lewisham is the chance to recycle more materials using their recycling bins, green boxes and in some cases clear recycling sacks. From December the 5th, residents will be able to recycle the usual items such as paper, cardboard, glass bottles, jars, cans and plastic bottles. In additional to this however, they will also be able to recycle liquid beverage cartons (aka Tetra Paks) and also mixed plastics (i.e. food containers, trays, cups, cling film, CD’s, meat trays, yoghurt pots, ice cream tubs, plastic tubs, party platters, bubble wrap, crisp packets, DVD cases, sandwich packs) – providing that they are clean of course. Empty aerosols are also accepted.

As well as these new materials that can be added to the recycling bins, the Council are also going to be receiving an income for the materials. This means that the more that is collected, the more income that will be generated for the Council. This income can then be used in other service areas.

With the collections starting on Monday, you will be able to start filling your recycling bins and boxes TODAY! in readiness for the new contract.

If you need any further information about the collections, please email recycle@lewisham.gov.uk or call 020 314 7171.