London’s two free evening papers, London Lite and thelondonpaper, could be banned from parts of Central London if their publishers refuse to tackle the problem of litter.
Westminster City Council has warned it could restrict distribution of the papers, which it claims cause an extra three tones of waste in the borough every day.
The council said it would not look to ban the paper across the entire borough but would initially focus on the most affected areas such as the West End.
Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, local authorities can ban free literature if the area is being polluted.
Cabinet member for street environment, Councillor Alan Bradley said: “There is now an established principle in environmental matters that the polluter pays. We are in negotiations with the publishers and are hopeful of reaching agreement with them both.
“I believe that everybody is acutely aware that the current situation is untenable, and that urgent action is needed to address this unprecedented volume of waste. The problem is particularly acute in the West End which should be a showcase for the capital given its importance for shopping, dining and entertainment.
“For residents, visitors and businesses to be greeted by the eyesore of piles of discarded newspapers in our streets is quite unacceptable.”
A spokeswoman for thelondonpaper publisher, News International said: “We have been working together with Westminster Council since the launch of thelondonpaper and are now in further negotiations with them to resolve their current issues”
A spokeswoman for Associated Newspapers, which publishes London Lite, said: “Associated Newspapers are currently in negotiations with Westminster City Council regarding the distribution of London Lite and waste collection in the Westminster area.
“London Lite is confident that a satisfactory outcome can be reached for all parties and looks forward to agreeing on a suitable course of action to address the issues in question.”
The council estimates that a quarter of all waste in the West End is made up of free newspapers and ultimately ends up in the landfill, rather than being recycled, as it is mixed with street rubbish.
After the papers launched in August, the council – which oversees most of Central London – increased the number of recycling bins to 131, but to cope with the sheer volume of waste it estimates it would need an extra 300 bins at a cost of £500,000 in the first two years.