Survey shows residents want better recycling

Pic: Douglas Pyper

Lewisham currently incinerates all its food waste. Pic: Douglas Pyper

Residents in Lewisham are overwhelmingly in favour of introducing food waste recycling in the borough, a survey has revealed.

Of nearly 6,000 residents who responded to the survey carried out in the summer, 94 per cent said it was “very important” to “try to recycle more”. Sixty seven per cent strongly agreed that Lewisham should recycle food waste, as is the case in neighbouring boroughs.

Sam Kirk, Strategic Waste and Recycling Environment Manager, told councillors there is “widespread support for weekly food waste collection” and residents are “adamant that there should be no exemptions to the service.”

Lewisham’s recycling rate for 2014-2015 was just 17.04 per cent, the lowest in the UK.

The UK is committed to meeting EU targets to have 50 per cent of all waste recycled by 2020. Local authorities that fail to meet the threshold could be fined by Westminster, as reported by Eastlondonlines.

Unlike neighbouring boroughs, Lewisham does not collect food or garden waste. Food waste in the borough is incinerated along with garbage, which cannot be recycled.

The Let’s Talk Rubbish consultation has recommended Lewisham make significant changes to recycling and refuse collection. It proposes refuse that is incinerated be changed to a fortnightly collection, while introducing a weekly food waste collection.

The proposed changes, which could come into effect from autumn 2016, would also mean the implementation of green bin recycling that would be collected every two weeks, and fortnightly garden waste collections. The changes are projected to improve the borough’s recycling rate by 34.25 per cent while also saving between £500,000 and £1m a year.

However, it remains questionable whether residents would be happy with changes that would see most rubbish collected fortnightly rather than weekly.

Janet Watters, 55, an office manager from New Cross Gate said: “People shouldn’t be putting food out anyway. You should be using your food. If people learnt to not throw away so much food there wouldn’t be so much food in the recycling. I think people need to change their habits.”

Lynne Baron, 40, a chaplain from New Cross said: “I’d be absolutely behind it, I think it’s fantastic. We recycle almost everything. We compost our own food. We put very little in our black bin, which is collected every week. But I’m not a family; it’s a group of adults sharing a house. I think it might be more difficult perhaps for families with children, but I think it’s a good idea.”

Tower Hamlets and Hackney currently collect food waste, refuse and recycling weekly.

Croydon collects food waste weekly while recycling and refuse is picked up fortnightly.

The change to fortnightly collection caused issue in Croydon with the council considering changing back to weekly refuse collections in 2014 following resident complaints in some areas.

In January 2016, the consultation’s final report will be presented to Croydon Mayor Patricia Hay-Justice and Cabinet who will make a decision on prospective recycling changes.

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