Greenwich’s black bin collections to go fortnightly from February 27

Greenwich Council bins
The growing number of flats has led to a decline in recycling rates

Fortnightly collections of non-recyclable waste will begin on February 27, Greenwich Council has confirmed – bringing it into line with its neighbouring SE London boroughs.

There will be three more weekly collections from black bins before the new system starts. Full details of the new dates have not yet been confirmed, but calendars will be sent out by post.

Greenwich hopes the change – the biggest to its refuse service in 14 years – will boost recycling rates, which have been falling because of the difficulties involved in collecting recycling from new blocks of flats with communal facilities.

The borough’s green-blue-black system remains, and recycling (blue) and food/garden waste (green) collections will remain weekly. Households with smaller bins can ask for a larger bin if they need one.

Properties that have their rubbish collected in bags or use communal facilities will not be affected.

Greenwich’s combined garden and food waste remains free of charge

Already the borough has cracked down on “side waste” – rubbish not placed in bins – and refusing to collect from those who put general rubbish in recycling and green bins. Repeat offenders will have their bins removed – although this has meant overflowing bins left abandoned on pavements in some areas.

The council credits this policy with a big drop in the proportion of recycling that is rejected when it is first sorted.

Averil Lekau, the council’s deputy leader, said: “By recycling more of our household waste there will be more room in our black top bins, which will be collected every two weeks from February 27.

“If you’re still unsure of what should go into your green, blue and black top wheelie bins, you can find up to date information on our website.”

The council says residents can help by:

  • rinsing any items that have food on
  • putting dry, mixed recycling into the blue top bin loose, not in bags
  • using a clear plastic sack if they don’t use wheelie bins
  • only putting food and garden waste in the green top bin
  • making sure compostable bags have the “seedling” logo on

The change is a big one for Greenwich – where weekly bin collections appeared in Labour manifestos as recently as 2018 – and has taken more than two years to implement. Last summer the change was disrupted by a blunder when the council announced that recycling collections would temporarily go fortnightly as a result of staff shortages – a decision that was swiftly reversed.

But the upheaval is relatively mild compared with other boroughs.

Neighbouring Lewisham, Bexley and Bromley boroughs have all had fortnightly general waste collection for some time. All three also charge for garden waste collections, which remain free in Greenwich. Bexley and Bromley also have separate collections for different kinds of recycling.

More details about the change can be found at

Who collects what and when?

Greenwich: Blue: Dry recycling, collected weekly Black: Non-recyclable waste, collected fortnightly Green: Garden waste and food waste, collected weekly, no charge
Lewisham: Green: Dry recycling, collected weekly Silver: Food waste, collected weekly Black: Non-recyclable waste, collected fortnightly Brown: Garden waste collected weekly (optional, £85 charge)
Bexley: White: Plastic bottles, cans, food trays, glass, foil, collected fortnightly Blue: Paper, cardboard, collected fortnightly Green: Non-recyclable waste, collected fortnightly Food recycling box, collected weekly Brown: Garden waste collected fortnightly (optional, £55 charge)
Bromley: Green: Plastic and metal recycling, collected fortnightly Blue: Paper and card recycling, collected fortnightly Brown: Food waste, collected weekly Grey: Non-recyclable waste, collected fortnightly Brown (again): Garden waste, collected weekly (optional, £60 charge).

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