Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Project Freesheet

A tube carriage strewn with discarded newspapersIt’s 5pm and time to go home. I walk a short distance from Great Sutton Street to Barbican Tube Station. Every 20 yards or so of this journey someone is trying to thrust a free newspaper at me. Sometimes there are two of them coming at me from either side. I avoid taking one. When I get onto the platform there are dozens of these newspapers lying around on seats or on the floor. Same when I get onto the tube carriage. Who clears all this mess up I wonder, and are they recycled?

Enter Project Freesheet. As they point out Freesheets are not free. We are paying for the clear up through our taxes. What they want is an end to street vendors handing out free newspapers. They want to see all free newspapers distributed via 'dumb' vendors, or bins, so that the free papers are taken only by people who actually want them. This will limit circulation numbers to more realistic levels, so that our recycling infrastructure is able to divert as many papers from landfill as possible.

They also want to see the producers of the freesheets contributing more to the clean up costs. Currently legislation already exists to promote Producer Responsibility in the Packaging, Vehicle and Electrical industries. We want to see this same legislation put into effect for the free literature market.
Petition here. Click!


  1. They are cleared up by Metronet staff at the end of the line. Both the infracos noticed a boom in litter after the freesheets were brought in, and the clean up cost is going on the fares. The Mayor has not been quick to act, probably because he wants people to read something other than the Standard.

  2. I suspect that even if these newspapers were obtained from some form of dispenser most would still end up strewn over the railway carriages; think of the Metro for instance.
    Only greater care and responsibility on the part of the general public will result in any improvement.

  3. Of course, because of the threat of terrorism, there are no rubbish bins on station platforms.

    O tempora, o mores.

  4. It even appears that, not content with wasting paper in London, Ken has been mailing his own propaganda "freesheets" to the provinces (at taxpayers' expense, of course).


  5. Judith
    Yes, but as I recall they were removed back in the 1970s when the IRA were bombing London. They, though were targetting property rather than people and gave warnings.

    Bins were starting to reappear but can't say that I've noticed them recently. They were clear plastic bags suspended from a circular metal ring.

  6. Thanks for that, Dorothea.
    And probably sent to Venezuela too.
    I'll ask our GLAM to comment.

  7. Barkingside Station has clear plastic bags attached to metal rings but that isn't really where newsprint should be deposited is it. Better to have personnel to clear the carriages at the terminus or during the last few stops on the route.