Recycling consultation reveals near-unanimous support across the borough
We found that 97.8% of respondents said that they care about recycling and actively try to recycle, while 95.7% said that they are aware of the benefits to the environment if they recycle. Furthermore, respondents rated our waste disposal services highly with:
- 76.6% either very happy or fairly happy with refuse services
- 73.7% either very happy or fairly happy with recycling services
- 67.2% either very happy or fairly happy with food waste services.
However, almost one in five local residents and business owners are unsure about best practice when it comes to recycling. When asked how confident they were in knowing what can and can’t be recycled, 18.2% of respondents said that they were either not confident or not confident at all.
Residents being unsure of what they can and cannot recycle is likely to lead to contamination – when non-recyclable materials are placed in the recycling bin. This increases costs and, when contamination constitutes over half of a load, can lead to entire truckloads of recycling being sent for incineration.
Some waste disposal services are not widely known
The survey also found that many residents were unaware of some of the services we offer to help dispose of household and commercial waste:
- Almost four in five respondents (79.5%) were unaware that we offer an assisted collection service where ill and disabled residents can request that refuse collectors wheel their bin to and from the kerbside during a collection.
- 54.3% of respondents didn’t know that we will collect and recycle an old mattress for free.
- Two thirds of respondents (66%) didn’t realise that we have centres around the borough where they can recycle small household appliances.
- Two thirds of respondents (66.9%) hadn’t heard of our commercial waste service.
- Almost a quarter of respondents (23.2%) didn’t know that we collect large items from resident’s homes, such as sofas and fridges, for a fee.
As a result of the findings from this survey, we will be taking a number of steps to try to improve recycling rates and reduce environmental crimes such as fly-tipping. These include:
- the creation of a reduction and recycling plan, as required by the Mayor of London, incorporating feedback and recommendations from the consultation
- an update of our waste strategy
- the creation of an environment communications strategy to promote services and help inform residents of correct recycling practice
- customer service training for all crew members so they can offer advice and answer any questions residents may have about waste disposal
- a review of the reuse and recycling centre, in particular its opening hours and materials guidance
- making guidance clearer around acceptable materials for recycling.
Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport (job share), said, ‘It’s encouraging to hear not only how much the people of our borough care about recycling, but also that an overwhelming majority of them are pleased with the waste disposal services that we already offer.
‘However there is still room for improvement. This consultation was the first step towards fulfilling our promise to address the barriers that are stopping residents disposing of household waste responsibly, and it has helped to shine a light on some of our shortcomings when it comes to educating the public about our services.
‘We need to do more to promote many of our waste disposal services and we also need to be clearer about what can and cannot be put in recycling bins. We know that the people of Lewisham really do care about recycling and understand its importance – it’s now up to us to equip them with the knowledge they need to dispose of their waste in the correct way.’
The consultation ran from 18 February–8 April 2019 and was completed by 5,528 people. During the consultation, our Strategic Waste and Environment Team attended 23 engagement events.