A new APProach in dealing with problem of fly-tipping in Newham

23rd October 2015 Posted by

New ways of tackling old problems

One of London’s worst offenders on the fly-tipping block, Newham, is looking to mend its ways and encourage its residents to change their attitudes towards waste disposal. In the face of grim national statistics, which recorded approximately 852,000 incidents of fly-tipping in 2013/14, up 20 per cent  from 2012/13, and over 70,000 call-outs to remove fly-tipped waste within the Newham Borough, Newham Council is now taking a tough stand against this anti-social and non-environmentally-friendly behaviour.

Bulky bill

Of particular concern is the threat of bulky waste across the borough. The items that are abandoned by those unable or unwilling to pay for responsible recycling or council collection or residents who are physically unable to take their unwanted items to the tip or a local re-use and recycling centre.

Commonly, fly-tipped bulky items include old white goods and furniture, but beds and mattresses, were singled out by Counsellor Ian Corbett, Newham’s mayoral advisor for environment and leisure, when he said: “We shouldn’t have to spend our money on picking up old mattresses off the street when we’ve got far more important issues such as child protection to focus on.”

But Councillor recognises that the council has no option but to keeping meeting the clean-up costs: “We can’t just leave the rubbish on the street. We have to clean it up.” And it is a significant cost for the council, with the £3 million yearly cost of fly-tipping clean up bringing Newham’s total spend for street cleaning, waste disposal and management to approximately £10 million per year.

Smart APProach

One of the innovations launched last summer is an app, Love Newham, that enables residents to alert the council about fly-tipping and unsafe items in the streets. Local residents can download this free app to their smartphones and all that’s needed is to take a photo and send it straight to the council. The photos arrive as alerts on the new computer screens in council tipper vans, complete with GPS location of where the photo was taken, setting in motion a quick-response clean-up from the council’s 200 strong team of street cleaners.


 Fly-tipping restraint

Of course, as well as assisting in Newham’s clean-up campaign, the photo-based performance of the app also offers a restraint to fly-tipping, as it’s possible that fly-tippers will be caught on camera in the act by vigilant members of the community. Offenders run the risk of fines and even jail sentences as over 99 per cent of 2012’s fly-tipping arrests resulted in successful prosecution and, in some cases, conviction.

Alternative disposal

Across the Newham Borough, council workers and street cleaners also identify beds and mattresses as being a key problem, despite the council’s bulky waste collection service. Overall, Newham also has the lowest recycling rates of any London borough (as reported in the Newham Recorder, 2014) with only 17.65 per cent of all household waste finding a second life as reused, recycled or composted products during 2013/14, a drop from 21 per cent  in the previous year. a performance which reflects poorly on Newham, not only in comparison to the commendable recycling performances of Bexley (55 per cent ), Harrow and Bromley (both 49 per cent), but also in comparison to the other boroughs of England, making it the worst performing local authority in England of 2014 (DEFRA).

As a result, Newham Council is also keen to encourage households to recycle as much as possible, not only to reduce incidents of fly-tipping, but also to improve overall recycling rates and increase the borough’s green, as well as clean, credentials.

Alternative methods for recycling those bulky items, such as those problematic beds and mattresses, include using companies, such as Collect Your Old Bed, which offer ethical disposable and responsible recycling of beds across all London boroughs, including Newham.

The company offers a guarantee of 100per cent recycling of the component materials of beds and mattresses, for example:

  • Recycling mattress fabric into textile items and carpet padding
  • Recycling wood parts by chipping into pet bedding, kitty litter, garden chippings and mulch
  • Recycling steel mattress and bed springs into hardware items.

With their focus on prompt and convenient collection, using a company such as Collect Your Old Bed reduces the potential for fly-tipping

Introducing a smartphone app and seeking alternative ways for removing bulky items from the waste stream destined for landfill, combined with engaged residents has a massive potential to help Newham Council to clean up and ‘green up’ its act.

This blog post has been submitted by James Murray of Collect Your Old Bed.


More on bulky waste

We partnered with the RSA’s Great Recovery to explore how the waste sector can improve the management of bulky waste – focusing in particular on used furniture. Under RSA’s design residency programme, four designers examined the bulky waste stream at our Surrey community recycling centres. The findings have been published in the Rearranging the Furniture report that you can download from our website.

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