Thursday, January 07, 2010

Mattress recycling and clearer labelling on recycling bins: two good new initiatives from the Council's Environment Team

Lewisham's head of environment, Nigel Tyrell has a blog. He very wisely steers clear of politics but uses it to let people know about new initiatives within the team, developments on the lovelewisham site etc. It's well worth adding to your blogroll.

Earlier this week came the welcome announcement that Lewisham is going to start offering a free mattress collection and recycling service, in partnership with a new company, Matt-UK, which has set up near our Landmann's Way waste site. All you have to do is get a sticker from the local library, put it on the mattress and leave it out on the evenign before your normal waste day and it will be taken away. They estimate that they will be able to recycle about 97% of the materials and sell them on to be made into new products, while also avoiding waste going to landfill or (in Lewisham's case) incineration. Sounds like a great idea to me. The icing on the cake would be to have a market to sell on the recyclate in the UK, rather than Asia, but it looks like that isn't possible just yet.

The other good bit of news, which is something I know a number of councillors have flagged up before, is that bins are going to have stickers on them explaining what can/can't be recycled. The ones we had before looked great, but didn't have the necessary detail on them, so many people have been unsure about what can/can't go in their green bin. Hopefully this will help to reduce the recycling contamination rates, which are currently very high in certain parts of the borough and result in a lot of the recyclate collected being incinerated rather than recycled, because it has got food or garden waste mixed in with it. (Pat on the back for Brockley and Ladywell, which our waste officers said had the lowest level of contamination in green bins, when they carried out a waste analysis).

And of course, at the end of last year the battery recycling scheme started at Lewisham libraries and the Christmas tree recycling service is again being well used by residents locally, judging by the numbers of them piling up on the corners of Hilly Fields. You can find details of these and other recycling facilities on the waste and recycling page on the Council's website.

These are all good initiatives and I don't want to belittle the progress that has been made, but Lewisham still has a pretty low recycling rate compared to other boroughs and there is lots more we need to do. One of my bug bears at the moment are the things that you struggle to recycle if you don't have a car to take them to Landmanns Way. Things like broken electrical goods, which you shouldn't put in wheelie bins. Also, the garden waste scheme that ran over the summer, while better than nothing, wasn't much use for us gardeners without cars (and only about half the borough owns a car). I've lost track of the number of residents on the doorstep who've asked when they are getting their brown wheelie bins back (a garden waste collection pilot that took place a couple of years back). I've also got a whole stash of defunct low energy light bulbs in my cellar waiting for an opportunity to recycle them.

The other thing I'm keen to see some progress on is what happens to our collected paper, cardboard and glass. British paper mills won't take paper and cardboard that has been collected together with glass, as happens in Lewisham, so it is generally shipped abroad (China or Malaysia, if I recall correctly) where there is a market for it. Likewise, because the glass has been crushed and the colours mixed, it is unsuitable for reycling back into glass, so is used for aggregate for roads etc. Unfortunately any solution is likely to cost more and/or add an extra layer of complication into recycling for local residents, as it would either involve separate bins for paper and glass, separate recycling days (eg one week paper, one week glass), extra rubbish trucks on the roads collecting them separately or perhaps a return to the street corner recycling bins for glass.

Another thing that residents often ask about, is why tetrapaks and other juice cartons can't be collected in the green bins. Until now, the problem has been that because they are mixed materials (card, plastic and metal), the MRF (materials recycling facility) have been unable to separate them mechanically, as they do with the other types of recycling. I understand that we might be getting some good news about this in a few months, but in the meantime, juice cartons can still be taken to a number of reycling points in the borough, including New Cross Sainsbury and Lewisham Tesco.

What would be next on your shopping list to improve waste and recycling facilities in Lewisham?


Susan said...

Thanks for your positive comments on Lewisham Council's recycling, Sue. I am pleased with our initatives, and I know that these will result in an improvement in our figures
I am also very pleased that we are now able to deal with mattressess, and to process the thousands that are fly-tipped on our borough's streets. As to recycling energy lightbulbs, there are sites for them at some Sainsbury stores; unfortunately, as you are aware, the Council could not pursue the brown bin/green waste pilot for resource reasons, but the green waste sites have proved very popular, (they will begin in April 2010)and you can still buy bags from our libraries for your green waste to be collected by arrangement.
Happy recycling in 2010!
Councillor Susan Wise

Nigel Tyrell said...

"while also avoiding waste going to landfill or (in Lewisham's case) incineration" Most of these mattresses were being landfilled, SELCHP can't take them, so it's doubly good; less landfill (and we're already good in that direction) and increased recycling. That's why I'm particularly pleased with this initiative. Would you like us to update you about tonnages for your ward, if I can get them?

Geoffrey said...

What about the beds bases that the mattresses sat on? What can happen to them?

It's a bit inaccurate to say that Lewisham Tesco is where Tetrapacs can be recycled - they can't and the staff don't know where (or didn't when I asked). The bins aren't in their car park either, but in the car park by the petrol station across the road.

Anonymous said...

I think it probably depends on what the bed bases are made of, as it can vary. Also, people change their mattresses more often than they change their beds, so the volume of mattresses is higher, so I guess it makes sense to tackle that first.

Re the tetrapak recycling locations I looked it up on the Council's website before writing that, to get the exact location, but that page had been removed, so I did it from memory, but clearly nothing slips under your radar!

Geoffrey said...

The Council website (and pieces in News Shopper Green pages) did give two of the locations as Lawrence House car park, and Tesco's car park. The latter misleading as I said, although it is next to the Tesco petrol station.

M said...

Great to have more recycling opportunities, I love recycling but not quite as much as hording. Any chance of a move to clear bins off footpaths. Can scarcely get down some roads for the lined up bins. Quite puts me off walking, thank goodness I don't have a push chair.

hilly said...

Yes, and why do people think we want to dodge their big bins when we walk along the footpath? They used to keep them in their large enough front gardens on my road, but there seems to be a bout of keeping up with the Jones, to see how many bins they can line up on the footpath. My youngest frequently comes a cropper with the corner of the bins and I am so grumpy about it.

Felix said...


Greatings from Germany! I have made an informationpage about an german recycling- and waste- management- idea for plastics and e- waste in german and english language (kryo- recycling). Pleace spread this infomation to all persons, you know, that many people get knowkedge about this idea and good alternatives to incineration.

If you and others have some more or new information, pleace send the information to my adress. .

Here is the link to my informationpage:

With best Greatings, Felix Staratschek, Freiligrathstr. 2, D- 42477 Radevormwald