Council meetings

Agenda item

Let's Talk Rubbish, waste consultation


3. Let’s Talk Rubbish, Waste Consultation


3.1    Sam Kirk set the context for the proposed changes in Lewisham. As a borough we are one of the best at not sending rubbish to landfill with less than 1% ending up there. 80% of our rubbish goes to SELCHIP to be made into electricity but we need to start planning now as there is only 8-9 years left on this contract.


3.2    However our recycling figures do not compare well with other boroughs. Currently Lewisham recycles 17% of its rubbish compared with

- Bromley (48%)

- Southwark (34.5%)

- Greenwich (35%)


3.3    We need to be working towards the national target of 50% which will be introduced in 2020. Failure to hit this may incur fines.


3.4    One of the proposals is to separate paper. At the moment mixed recycling can cause contamination and result in recycled items being rejected at the processing plant. Separating paper would ensure that this does not occur and can bring in extra income.


Q.     Why are Lewisham’s figures so high and what can done about it?      


A.     Part of the reason that our figures are lower is that all of these boroughs have a separate food bin and this counts against their recycling targets. There is an added benefit too, as people with food bins tend to reduce their consumption once they see how much they waste.


Sam detailed the waste hierarchy




         Recycle &





3.5   From the 1st January we will need to separate glass, paper, cans & plastics.


3.6    The short video was shown which detailed the proposals that arebeing consulted on.


Q.     When and how will changes come into affect?


A.     We do not have details yet as this will depend on the results of the consultation, however we will roll out changes across the borough to allow us to manage the inevitable teething problems.


Q.     I have concerns about the incinerator, how do we know that the emissions are safe and how often are they monitored?


A.     The emissions are monitored every half an hour and you can view the figures on their website.


Q.     When you change to fortnightly collections, will this mean redundancies?


A.     Firstly, we are consulting currently and fortnightly collections are just one of the options that we are looking at. We will need to see what the results are before any changes were made. If we did go to fortnightly collections, we would still need a weekly food collection so there would be minimal if any loss of jobs.


Q.     Why aren’t you encouraging people to recycle more rather than making it harder?


A.     Some of the changes in recycling are imposed on us by government and so we do not have a choice. We do have a number of projects to encourage recycling including going into schools and regular coverage in Lewisham Life.


Q.     What is the driving force behind the change, money, recycling more or both?


A.     There are multiple factors that affect waste management. We have to consider things like the price of various recyclable commodities which is constantly changing with the markets and how far we send item for recycling. Recently the paper mill in Aylesford has gone into administration and the plastics recycling in Dagenham may be going into administration. This means we will need to send things further for processing which has operational, financial and environmental impacts.


Q.     There are five options here, why are we not being given more as there may be other things that do work and some of these may not work.


A.     We started with ten options but then narrowed this down to five. It may now stay that way. We are consulting broadly and have held meeting with the crews across the team. They have come up with ideas that we had not considered and have given some useful feedback on the practicalities of some of the ideas.


3.7    Thank you for consulting. I think that targeting children regarding recycling can be a good idea as they have pester power.


Q.     There used to be a green waste collection, now we have to drive it to Surrey Quays which causes more pollution.


A.     We currently provide bags which people can buy and use as they want to. We are consulting to see if people would want to subscribe to a collection service.


3.8    The staff at the Recycling Centre are very helpful, please could you pass this feedback on to them.


Q.     Have you looked at what Southwark are doing?


A.     Yes we have looked at what is already working in a number of boroughs in developing these proposal.


Q.     Why is there such a gap in the figures between Lewisham and the other borough that you mentioned?


A.     This is partly because they have waste transfer stations and Lewisham does not have one. The Food and garden waste composting also has an influence on their figures.


Q.     Can the recycling centre should take more things like mattresses.


A.     There is a free mattress pick up service that you can use. This can be booked online or by phoning 020 8314  7171.


3.9    There was some discussion regarding more collections in flats. Sam explained that this consultation is for street properties only. Flats will be consulted on at a later date.