Southwark Lambeth RecyclingOne of the things I have to get to grips with in my new flat is the change of borough – I’m now in Southwark having previously been in Lambeth. It’s hard to tell in London where one borough ends and the next starts if you travel around, but it makes quite an impact if your everyday life. Normally most people feel it in terms of Council Tax rates, but those are about the same for Lambeth and Southwark. For me the first major problem has been recycling.

Lambeth has an excellent ‘Orange Bag’ system [see this] whereas all Southwark can manage is a series of ‘Recycling Centres’ that allow you to recycle only glass, metal and paper [see this]. What am I supposed to do with packaging, drinks cartons, plastic bottles? It’s no wonder that the UK is 3rd worst for waste recycling in the EU-15 – here’s the BBC news story on that.


  1. Guillaume Mercier

    I also live in Southwark, but in a property that gives onto the street, so most of the recycling must be placed in a blue plastic box and the paper in a blue bag to be collected once a week. Unfortunately, the borough’s collectors don’t pick up the recycling on the scheduled day about a quarter of the time with no apparent reason not to. I don’t think the council in Southwark actually believes in the value of recycling.

  2. Hmmm. I don’t have a green bin for my property – there are collective bins. But the waste search thing does seem to indicate that there are blue box collections, although I can’t say I’ve seen any blue boxes around here on the street.

    I’ll call Southwark tomorrow and see what I can manage. Thanks for the useful research!

  3. Shelley

    Check out Southwark’s website – you should have a blue box for tins, plastic and glass, and a blue bag for paper and cardboard and you can fill out a form online to request them. Maybe the previous owner didn’t bother to recycle?

  4. What are the lobby groups (e.g. Friends of the Earth) in Southwark doing (if anything)? It doesn’t sound as if anything’s improved since I lived there in 2002-3. Tower Hamlets is a borough with a similar profile social profile (and some of the same problems e.g. collecting recycling from big tower blocks) but that has managed to make some improvements in the same time and introduce doorstep recycling. The same applies to Hackney. Maybe these comparisons could be brought to the council’s attention? Barnet is considering introducing fines for people who don’t recycle (I think) and Merton is a real leader in sustainable construction etc. The relative freedom of councils means that some lag behind, but it does – sometimes – allow them also to develop interesting initiatives that set the agenda for others.

  5. No idea who is asking for what locally… But once I have all the other admin things sorted out in the flat I very much intend to find out!

    A certain Kirsty McNeill is the Labour candidate for one of the Southwark constituencies (not the one where I live) so maybe she could take it up?

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