Recycling in Lewisham



I think my highest score is 18 - but only by adding the two rounds together!


Ha ha. I find some days very easy, other dreadful. My other half thinks I am very sad. She may have a point.


I agree, I got so lonely today that I just had to go for a lovely run down to Peckham Rye Park to enjoy the sunshine (nod to SE23.Life Strava group).

While on my run I did take some photos of what I consider to be the epitome of lazy and short-sighted recycling infrastructure by Lewisham - drum role please …

Above are two photos of typical recycling bins outside a block of flats. You will notice that they are padlocked shut and have slots in to feed recycling items in one-by-one. These bins were not particularly close to the front door, so the residents have to collect their recycling in an open container in their flats and then regularly take those containers out of their flat, down the stairs/lifts, feed the contents slowly into these recycling bins through the flaps and then return their containers to their flat. In contrast, landfill waste can be collected in black refuse sacks and thrown into an unlocked large bin. It really pains me how idiotic this system is.

The reasoning supplied by the council to me for locking the bins is that when they were left open, they were contaminated by people putting black bags in.

Neighbouring councils, such as Lambeth, distribute clear orange refuse sacks for households to put their recyclable waste in, and then have open top large recycling bins for large residential units.

When I moved to Lewisham, I was struck how idiotic the recycling system was for large residential units - the council actively make it harder for people to recycle than not.


The Lewisham page says that changes to waste collection including the introduction of food bins is going to be rolled out in October. Did I dream that it originally advised July?


No you didn’t. It has been delayed.


I wanted to ask a quick recycling question: what is the position on whether things like empty glass jars should be rinsed before being put in recycling? On one hand I’m not sure if not rinsing them somehow contaminates/upsets the recycling process, but on the other the amount of water that would be wasted washing items for recycling would surely completely negate the benefits of recycling?

[edit: I have previously googled this but there doesn’t seem to be clear guidance or agreement on the question]


I’ve wondered that too. So I save any recycling that needs washing and either pop it in the dishwasher when there’s room or hand wash if I have a basin of dishwater already on the go. Then it gets dried on the drying rack, then into the recycling bin.


Food contamination is the biggest worry with recycling. Rinsing is necessary to try to ensure that the chances of food contamination are minimised.

I am not sure that washing items for recycling would really use that much water so that the benefits are negated.


Once upon a time I was diligent in this matter. Even ensuring plastic windows were torn from envelopes and plastic film separated from pots and trays. But if my neighbours are anything to judge by, the council must do some manual sorting and extra work. Very few appear diligent in the matter at all.

PS… I have not done a late night survey by searching all the recycle bins. :wink:

I also looked on the Lewisham site and it was not clear.


I’ve always understood that the separation hasn’t been important for Lewisham. The issue with food contamination is different because once food gets into (for example) paper, it can’t be taken out again.


Good point. Which is why I never recycle pizza boxes.


Is this the best thing to do, given you can’t really control the grease?


Received this on the door step today.


Yes we received ours today as well!:blush:


got ours on Monday, however it’s not going to be much use to us, as all of our kitchen waste goes into a caddy already, and then onto the compost heap at the end of the garden. this sometimes includes leftovers from meals, but not often as we either eat everything on our plates, or we put the rest into a container in the fridge and eat at a later meal. the only thing maybe would be leftover bones, but these I tend to keep in a box in the freezer until there’s enough to make stock. Am I unusual in that respect? making use of as much as possible, and there’s hardly ever any food waste in our black bin.
our green bin probably takes two weeks to get full, and our black bin probably only has two bags in it a week, so would take a couple of months to get really full, but then would probably smell terrible. I normally only put our black bin out every other week as it is. We had a letter a few years ago, telling us that if the bin wasn’t full it could be left a week, so that the binmen could do a round quicker with fewer bins to empty. so that’s what we did.


It will make a big difference to people who don’t, for what ever reason, have a compost bin. I think it will also make people much more aware of how much food they waste (if they do) so may have a beneficial effect in that regard too.


we are the same- very little food waste that is not composted already. Wondering how they will want the food waste presented in the new bins - bagged or not bagged? It looks as though they may expect us to use compostable bags, since they say they will provide an initial supply.


Well, do you have one of the 240L black bins or the new (well not so new) 180L ones.


& how much are these ‘compostible bags’ going to cost? If they want us to recycle food I think they should supply the bags. We already pay for the gardening bin, which was something we applied for so don’t mind paying.


Good point. In Southwark these are provided free of charge and on request.