Voluntary agreement ends free paper waste wrangle

Westminster City Council, poised to use strong-arm tactics to force publishers of free newspapers to take responsibility for the waste their products produce, has announced an agreement which will see the companies clean up after themselves.

The London borough was set to become the first in the country to invoke powers under the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act which would have required distributors to apply for a licence to continue to hand out free papers to commuters and tourists after months of negotiation with publishers had ended in frustration.

But now the publishers of the city’s two evening free papers, London Lite and the London Paper, have signed up to a deal which will see them sharing the cost of clearing up tonnes of abandoned papers every day.

As part of the new regime Associated Newspapers and NI Free Newspapers Ltd will each purchase and install around 40 council-approved recycling bins and recycle the contents.

Regular litter collections will also be carried out by the newspapers, in addition to the council’s existing street sweeping, which will aim to reduce newspaper waste in the four areas.

Cllr Alan Bradley, Westminster council’s Cabinet Member for Street Environment said: “I’m very pleased that both publishers have agreed to help tackle the problem of newspaper litter voluntarily, which was always our favoured option.

“This has been a complex matter, and there are some details we need to finalise, but I look forward to all parties working together to ensure Westminster’s streets are kept clean and that as much waste newspaper as possible is recycled.

“I’m confident we’ll see the benefit of all the hard work put into this once the relevant planning and advertising consents have been obtained and new bins delivered.”

The four West End zones covered by the scheme are Charing Cross and Embankment, Leicester Square and Charing Cross Road, Oxford Circus and Victoria station, with each of the publishers taking on responsibility for two of the zones.

The new regime is expected to take effect later this year, and follows extensive negotiations between the council and the publishers to tackle the problem of newspaper waste.

In large parts of the West End discarded newspapers currently account for around a quarter of all street waste, and as it is contaminated with other litter is not recycled

Sam Bond

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