Reuse and Recycling Centre

Nathan Way, Plumstead, SE28

This is the bit of the Council’s refuse site that we used to call “going down the dump.” A few years ago it was changed to being slightly more recycling-friendly, but it has had quite a facelift recently and though not quite perfect yet, is definitely going the right way for my money.

Firstly, you now drive up onto a ramp and drop your waste into the various skips rather than risking life and limb climbing those slippery metal steps with giant bin bags. Secondly, they’ve designed it for fewer hold-ups (though there were still a few traffic jams when I was there.) Thirdly, they’ve got more different sections so that more things can be separated, which is A Good Thing. Everything from household batteries to paint and household chemicals can now be separated – which means that toxins don’t leach out into the water supply whilst they’re in landfill.

The big change is that they’re introducing a new bit which is not dissimilar to Greenwatch, but for household items rather than office furniture. There’s a new area for unwanted white goods, furniture etc, which will be reconditioned – either just cleaned if they’re still working or mended if they’re repairable – by young people who are being NVQ trained in this field and then either used by the council for helping needy people or young families or re-sold to the public.

I understand that goods will be on sale at the reuse and recycling centre itself, but I’ve also heard rumour that there will be a dedicated shop at the industrial estate in Bugsby’s Way on the Peninusula. Goods will be very cheap (naturally) and if you have a Greenwich Card, they will be subject to further discounts. I think this is a great idea – and can only hope that they will expand the project to other, smaller items that might turn up in the “household waste” bins which still go to landfill. I still weep when I see what is being thrown in them. The other day I saw huge planters (the sort that cost a fair whack in B&Q,) a not-unsalvageable bicycle and some good-looking plastic boxes, all of which, given a hose-down, would have gone very happily if they were placed on Freecycle.

I totally applaud Greenwich Council for introducing all this. I believe it’s a good move – especially since any money raised from the sale of these goods will go to help train young people.

They’re also going to be changing our rubbish collections – or so I’ve heard. The blue-top recycling bins (which, by the way, can take virtually eveything except polystyrene, organic material and those cardboard fruit juice packs with the aluminium linings) will be collected once a week.

They will be converting our green-top bins from general rubbish to organic – so everything from chicken bones to hedge clippings, eggshells to left-over pizza. These will also be collected once a week and taken to a special, covered, ENORMOUS compost bin-type thing where they will collect the methane and sell it to gas companies, and the compost which they will sell to local developers for topsoil. There shouldn’t be any smells as people can either collect their organic waste in paper bags or cardboard boxes inside their bins or use special cornstarch bags which will rot down with the rest of the waste.

Anything else will be picked up in bags every other week – theoretically there will be virtually none of it.

I also think this is a good idea. The more the council can collect, recycle and sell, the less our concil tax will be and the less guilty I’ll feel about throwing things away. They’re making an effort – albeit because Governement and EU directives are forcing them to.

So – that’s household waste well on the way to being dealt with soundly, but we still have a problem. There are no Governement directives about small and medium-sized businesses recycling waste, and until shops, businesses and offices are also forced to recycle the huge amounts that they accumulate, the work the council’s doing with our household stuff will be less effective than it could be. Some businesses are doing it anyway, but they need to be given more incentives – carrots and sticks. We’re all in this together, whether we want to be or not.

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