All in it together

It, in this case, is your blue bag, green box or green wheelie bin (very soon). Yes, it’s recycling news. Or perhaps that should be news about recycling!

New bins, new collection days and new recycling rules – it’s all change for West Hampstead’s eco-warriors as of the start of next week. You should have received a flyer through your door about this. What it doesn’t tell you – but I do below – is where it all ends up.

The old system of green box for mixed recyclables, a brown box for food waste and a blue bag for paper and card has come to an end (although in some streets it would appear it’s never been operational).

@WHampstead NEVER seen a blue bag on @MillLaneNW6— Daniel W (@damawa42) June 29, 2013

Over the next couple of weeks, Camden will be delivering green wheelie bins of various sizes to those of you who requested one from the form sent out earlier this year. You no longer need to separate paper & card from all the other recycling. Only food and garden waste will continue to be processed separately, everything else can be lumped together. Easy. All the details of the changes are here.

click for large version of what you can/can’t recycle now

It’s all been a bit of a headache for the council, however, as people pointed out that there simply wasn’t room outside their properties for another set of bins. Not everyone can be as parsimonious with their waste as local Carol Thomas, who was in the Ham & High this week claiming she only threw away a margarine tub’s worth of rubbish a week.

If we could all replicate Carol then we wouldn’t need the dustbins, but that’s not realistic for most people so instead we’ll have to manage with more containers. Camden has recognised this and will collect recycling from any of your existing bags and boxes if you don’t want a bin. Across the borough, only 8.7% of households chose not to receive a bin. Refuse collectors (or “bin men” if you’re me) won’t take away recycling boxes when they deliver the bins, but wheelie bins and/or boxes can be removed over the following weeks – just contact Camden to request this.

Next year, the council will be aligning recycling and street cleaning so that streets will be  cleaned in the 24 hours followed recycling and waste collection.

But where does it all go?
If you’re interested in where all your recycling ends up then I can tell you: Bywaters‘ enormous 9.2 acre recycling plant in the Lea Valley in east London. I went for a tour a few months ago – anyone can join these tours, just contact .

I recommend it if you’re interested. The tour is noisy and dirty, but Bywaters’ guide was happy to answer any questions, and was upfront about the conditions their workers have to deal with and their low pay, as well as what happens to the bundles of sorted material. What I found interesting was how volatile the global market for recycled material is – one week they can be shipping material to China, the next week to Amsterdam depending on the price.