The problem of waste explained by the Council

The problem of waste explained by the Council

The Council gave us some information on how the waste created by the commerces is currently dealt with and ideas on how things could be improved.

There have been a lot of complaints about the rubbish on the pavements along Rye Lane. Who is responsible for the removal of waste? 

The waste generated by the shops in Rye Lane is commercial waste. Therefore, each shop is responsible for ensuring they have adequate arrangements in place with commercial waste collection companies that are capable of managing the waste produced.

The reality is that this is not happening and many businesses ignore their legal obligations due to cost. This means that much of the actual waste collection falls to Southwark Council as irresponsible shop owners fly-tip on a daily basis.   Southwark already has in place intensive cleansing arrangements for Rye Lane. This are set out below:

 Rye Lane:

    • 05:00 – 06:00 – 2 Staff – Small Mechanical Broom Motor & one operative
    • 06:00 – 12:00 – 2 Staff – 1 Pedestrianised mechanical sweeper & 1 Litter Picker
    • 12:00 – 18:00 – 2 Staff – Both Litter Pickers
    • 16:00 – 18:00 – 3 Staff – (Market) all with sweeper barrows.

Peckham High Street: ( Lyndhurst Way – Consort Road )

    • 05:00 – 06:00 – 1 Staff – Pedestrianised mechanical sweeper
    • 07:00 – 14:00 – 1 Staff – with a sweeper’s barrow
    • 12:00 – 18:00 – 1 Staff – Litter Picker (Starts at Queens Road)

Whole area:

    • Between the hours of 16:00 – 19:00 Market staff ( this is a dustcart and caged tipper truck )
    • Between 22.00 and 01.00, a dustcart to clear any fly tips and commercial waste

These are already the most extensive cleansing arrangements in place in Southwark and are part funded by the Peckham Community Council, utilising their Cleaner Greener safer revenue funds. I hope that this information demonstrates that we are already taking the cleanliness of Rye Lane seriously and please be assured that I will speak with cleansing officers to see if we can do more within the current financial constraints.

Southwark also carries out a huge amount of environmental enforcement work in the area to try and bring irresponsible traders in line. In the last 12 months, the enforcement team have:

  • Visited the area 345 times – sometimes twice in a day to try and catch fly tippers in the act
  • Served 43 ‘Section 34 notices’ – these compel traders to provide evidence of a suitable trade waste agreement 
  •  Served 69 Fixed Penalty Notice – fines for non-compliance 
  •  Prosecuted nine business for failure to manage their waste correctly


At Ridley Road market in Dalston the waste from traders gets picked up constantly by a Council employee with a hand pulled cart (see image attached). Traders said that the boxes they leave out never stay for more than 10 minutes. Could a similar arrangement work on Rye Lane as it operates in many ways as a market?

Unfortunately, because Rye Lane is not a designated ‘market’ we are currently unable to adopt the waste management arrangements that are in place in Ridley Road as each business in Rye Lane is able to select their own waste management contractor. If Rye Lane was a ‘market’, waste management could be coordinated centrally and recharged to each stall-holder as part of their pitch fee. However, the method of waste management in place in Ridley Road is the same already used in east Street Market and generally works well.

How could the current arrangement be improved to respond? 

We are exploring options to reduce the amount of commercial waste that is allowed to be placed on the high streets across Southwark, including Rye Lane and talking to other other boroughs to learn from their experience.

Potential options include ‘time banding’ where business have to keep all the waste they create on their premises until a set time (typically 09.00 and 16.00) and they have to ensure their waste contractor clears this within an hour of it being placed out on the high street through to a more radical approach whereby the Council builds a central waste repository (possibly in Choumert Road car park) and compels all businesses in Rye Lane to to use and pay for this amenity.

We will be developing a waste management strategy as part of the wider regeneration of Rye Lane to resolve the historical problems of waste on the high street.