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A groundbreaking partnership that will see thousands of used books donated by Lambeth residents benefit deprived communities in Tanzania has been launched.

Ahead of World Book Day on 1 March, Lambeth Council’s recycling and waste management services provider Veolia Environmental Services has joined forces with educational charity READ International to provide dedicated book recycling points throughout the borough.

The books, collected by Veolia from these sites, are taken back to a central depot before being moved to READ’s storage points, provided free by one of their partners, Big Yellow Self Storage.

The books are stored alongside all the other books the organisation collects from UK schools, businesses and the wider community through its 1,000 strong network of student volunteers across the country.  These student volunteers are mobilised to sort all books collected, matching as many as they can with the Tanzanian secondary level syllabus which is very similar to that of the UK and taught in English too.

Those books which are not relevant for Tanzanian schools are sold online to generate funding to cover the costs of sending the books that are eligible to go.  Any books unsold are either recycled or passed on to other UK charities which can make use of them. The main aim is to extract as much value as possible from every book collected – no book is ever sent to landfill.

Cllr Lorna Campbell, Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for environment and sustainability, said: “This is a fantastic scheme and I’m delighted it’s launching in Lambeth.  It’s sometimes easy to take books for granted but you should never throw them away.  By taking books that you no longer want to one of the book recycling points in the borough you will be directly helping to improve the lives of children in Tanzania.”

Robert Seear, Veolia’s regional manager for London South West, said: “We are always keen to work with local community groups and charities, especially where the benefits are so clear to see, as they are with this partnership.  We have seen how successful the scheme has been in another part of London and we are determined to replicate that success here, so we encourage residents to make good use of the book bins and help make a difference to children in East Africa.”

Hannah Mitchell, READ International’s Chief Executive, said: “READ International is delighted to be working in partnership with Veolia and Lambeth Council to extend our network of public book donation bins within London.  Each book donated to READ International is used to improve the quality of education and the lives of young people in Tanzania.  This is a unique and innovative way for the people to not only support a worthy charitable cause but also play their part in reducing waste to landfill.”

The scheme has already been piloted in the nearby City of Westminster, where over 12,500 books were collected within the first six months.  Veolia and READ International are working together to identify further opportunities to introduce the scheme to local authorities across the capital and beyond.

The book recycling points are situated at the following locations:

  • Baylis Road, entrance to Millenium Green
  • Kennington Lane, junction with Glyn Street
  • Wandsworth Road, junction with Thessaly Road
  • Streatham High Road, junction with Gracefield Gardens
  • The Pavement, Clapham
  • Barrington Road shop parade, junction with Loughborough Road
  • Norwood Road, outside Texaco

-ends-

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