Free papers still heading to landfill

Increasing newspaper circulations in London are undermining efforts to keep city centre streets litter free and boost recycling levels.

Westminster City Council launched a scheme last year in partnership with two of the capital’s free papers to buy more paper recycling bins in a bid to cut escalating waste levels (see related story).

Although the scheme resulted in an initial drop in the amount of papers ending up in residual rubbish collected from London’s streets, the amount is back on the rise.

Council officials are putting the reversing trend down to increasing circulations among some newspapers and they are looking to set up new partnerships to make other freesheets take responsibility for their papers.

Speaking at a London Remade meeting on Monday, Phil Robson, recycling manager for the council, said the scheme with the London Lite and thelondonpaper started after rubbish collectors found they were picking up an extra four tonnes of newspapers on-street bins a day.

Describing the levels of newspapers found in on-street bins before and after the launch of the scheme, he said: “It started very high, it got a lot better, but now it’s creeping back up again as the circulation of some of these papers increases.”

Showing a breakdown of which titles are now found in the council’s own paper recycling bins, Mr Robson said: “The Metro is the biggest so we are looking to work with them on a scheme.”

He said the circulation of the London Lite is 400,000 copies a day, thelondonpaper distributes 500,000 copies a day, while The Metro‘s circulation has jumped from 500,000 to 700,000 copies a day.

In 2007-08, the council collected 930 tonnes of newspapers and magazines for recycling, which is an increase of 266 tonnes on the previous year.

But Mr Robson admitted there are still more than 1,000 tonnes of papers and magazines bought or picked up in Westminster that end up in landfill every year.

Kate Martin

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