Recycling bin trial – your questions answered

5 February 2016

Written by: Lambeth Council

Council statements and updates - Focus on Brixton - News and announcements

The recycling bin trial is now underway and we are grateful to you for getting in touch with your initial feedback. As we have received a few similar questions and comments, we thought it would be helpful to answer them here.

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Recycling bin trial – your questions answered

I like the current system. Why can’t I keep using recycling sacks?

Unfortunately not all residents recycle everything they can and other boroughs have found that the use of wheeled bins has driven up recycling rates. We need to increase recycling both to meet sustainability targets set by the Mayor and to save money. It costs nearly six times as much for the council to dispose of residual waste than to dispose of recycling and Lambeth is currently lagging behind some of the other inner London Boroughs in its recycling performance. The bags themselves cost the council around £800,000 a year to supply and deliver; considerable savings could be made by moving to wheeled bins.

I’ve never had a problem with wildlife ripping open my sacks. There shouldn’t be anything in the recycling sacks to attract them.

Unfortunately we do have frequent reports of sacks being ripped open. It is usually because food packaging such as tins have not been washed out properly. Sometimes recycled items such as tins and cardboard also tear through the side of the bag, causing items to spill out or wildlife to get in.

How long is the trial for and how are you measuring its success or failure?

We will be monitoring the trial for six to eight weeks and will be looking at a number of factors in assessing whether it is successful including:

  • Environmental quality – do they keep the street cleaner, prevent litter and unnecessary bags left on the street?
  • Recycling performance – Are the new bins encouraging and enabling people to recycle more?
  • Cost – Will the new system save us money? Dealing with a tonne of recycling is more than £100 cheaper for us than dealing with a tonne of normal waste!
  • Effectiveness – Identifying and addressing any technical issues for our waste collection crews

We will carefully monitor all of these over the next few weeks, as well as any customer feedback received and will then feed the findings into our wider waste strategy. It may take a little time to get back to residents with the results as there are other factors to take into account when deciding what to do across the borough. Thank you for bearing with us and taking part in the trial, we are grateful for your help.

I’m concerned that the new bins will cause an obstruction and will clutter pavements.

We will be monitoring the look of the streets as part of the trial. The leaflet delivered with the bins explains to residents that bins must be kept on their property, presented on the pavement for collection and returned to their property as soon after collection as possible.

The sacks were really useful for storing recycling inside between collections.

You can use a reusable bag or box to store your recycling in and then empty the contents into your recycling bin. Providing and delivering recycling sacks costs the council around £800,000 each year; considerable savings could be made by moving to wheeled bins and it’s also much more sustainable to take these additional single use plastic bags out of the system.

Why is recycling so important?

Using recycled materials in manufacturing processes uses considerably less energy than using raw materials. It also saves energy, which in turn leads to a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Recycling also saves us money. The government has cut the council’s money by 56%. Most of our money goes on our most vulnerable residents through things like Adult Social Care and Children’s Services and they remain our priority. Dealing with a tonne of recycling is more than £100 cheaper for us than dealing with a tonne of normal waste! This frees up money we can use to protect other services. You can read more about the #ToughChoices we are having to make at

Find out more

If your property is included in the trial you will receive a letter shortly. You can also find out more about the trial on our recycling bin guide webpage, which also includes a frequently asked questions section.

To find out more about your waste and recycling services, please visit


2 Thoughts on “Recycling bin trial – your questions answered

  1. Elizabeth F says:

    I live alone and do not need a huge wheelie bin. Have you smaller slim line ones that could be used by people like me. Also several of my friends have very small front gardens and will find it difficult to have enough room for a large bin. What do they do.

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