By Miranda Bryant
Despite having a bigger Green Party presence than any other London borough, Lewisham composted just 0.5 per cent of its household waste last year.
Thousands of tonnes of rubbish that could be composted were not, according to a report which revealed Lewisham as one of the worst amongst London boroughs for composting.
“We’re lagging behind the rest of London”, said Darren Johnson, Green GLA member and Brockley councillor. However, he refused to take any responsibility for the borough’s poor performance, blaming the Mayor’s priorities and incineration policy:
“Often boroughs have been subject to landfill taxes, but in Lewisham everything is incinerated so there’s not the same incentive.”
Incineration may save on landfill space, but it produces harmful greenhouse gases that could be avoided by recycling. The same report revealed that Lewisham fell short of its overall recycling target. The borough achieved only 22 per cent when its target was 25 per cent.
Council declines to comment
Unlike some boroughs, like Lambeth, the council does not provide compost bins or collection free-of-charge. The only facility currently in place is a garden rubbish collection service that charges £10 for compulsory bags and does not accept food waste.
A pilot Green Party initiative, providing brown bins for garden waste to 5,000 households, was well received – resulting in more compost being collected from participating households than the rest of the entire borough in the same period.
But despite its success, the council have failed to make it policy. There are no concrete plans for implementing the initiative across the borough, except for the possibility of an optional scheme which would charge residents to compost.
A Lewisham Council spokesperson declined to comment, saying only: “It’s not necessarily as it may seem”. But the figures, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last week, speak for themselves. Neighbouring Greenwich achieved almost five per cent compost compared to Lewisham’s 0.5 per cent, Southwark four per cent and leafy Bexley was one of the top performers with nearly 18 per cent.