1. New recycle items planned to slim your rubbish bin

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    Residents in Somerset could see changes to their recycling and refuse collection service in the next few years if plans by the county’s six councils go ahead.

    Proposals for extra recycling materials – plastic pots, tubs and trays; Tetra Pak-style cartons; small electrical items; household batteries – to be collected weekly would see far less in rubbish bins.

    With the potential for so much material to be collected for recycling each week, the councils, working through their joint Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP), have been exploring whether the refuse collection frequency could be reduced to three weekly.

    Saving generated over the coming years could help hold down council tax rises and fund other vital services.

    With food waste continuing to be collected weekly and steps to help families with children in nappies, SWP says extensive trials have demonstrated that those who recycle well will manage without problems

    Trials of three-weekly collections with the extra recycling achieved significant success, with much more recycled, far less rubbish and an overwhelming majority of those taking part backing the new system.

    Nothing firm has yet been agreed but any changes, if approved, would be introduced in stages over at least two years.

    But SWP is confident this is a practical, sustainable and cost-effective solution to help residents recycle more, waste less and save money.

    SWP also hopes that the kerbside collection changes will happen alongside an end to landfilling rubbish in Somerset, with waste processed elsewhere to extract materials or burn it for power.

    Increased recycling and reduced landfill are an environmental and economic win-win and will help keep Somerset among the top recycling areas in the UK.

    A study of what people actually throw away shows that around 50% of the existing average Somerset rubbish bin is food or other materials that can already be recycled in present kerbside collections, while around another 10% of the bin could be taken to recycling sites.

    Landfilling Somerset’s rubbish costs £12 million a year.


    What the proposed new service would collect each week

    Food waste

    Kitchen towel

    Newspaper and magazines

    Directories and other paper


    Beverage cartons (Tetra Pak etc.)

    Glass bottles and jars

    Food and drink cans


    Aluminium foil

    Plastic bottles

    Plastic pots (yoghurt etc.)

    Plastic tubs (margarine, ice cream etc.)

    Plastic trays (fruit etc.)




    Small electricals

    Household batteries


  2. Cash-free plastic payment trial for Chard recycling site

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    Chard Recycling Centre is going cash-free for the month of February, in a trial that will see it taking payments only on “plastic”.

    Payments will be accepted on Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards, Visa Electron and Diners Club, including contactless cards.

    Security and safety of staff has been cited as the reasons for the trial, as Chard takes a wide variety of charged-for materials, with waste levels rising year-on-year.

    These include items classified as non-household, such as gas bottles, soil, hardcore and tyres, brought in by residents, as well as domestically-generated vehicle parts.

    Businesses are charged to recycle or dispose of two dozen commercial waste materials, from timber and fridges to plasterboard and fluorescent tubes.

    Like all recycling sites in Somerset, Chard also does a brisk trade in “Revive” soil conditioner at £4 a bag and £10 for three.

    Chard Recycling Centre was chosen as the trial site as the staff are experienced in handling payments on plastic and the current level of transactions is manageable.

    It is also one of 10 sites that accept businesses’ paid-for commercial waste, and – in a separate scheme – among the 10 sites that takes residents’ paid-for vehicle parts for recycling or disposal.

    After the 1-29 February trial, councillors on Somerset Waste Board will consider the results before any decision is taken about whether to extend it to other sites in future.

    A Somerset Waste Partnership spokesman said: “As the rest of the world goes cash-free, we need to see if this might work for payments at recycling sites, with Chard the testbed.”

    Click here for details of Chard Recycling Centre, from opening hours to materials taken and links to lists of charges.

  3. Waste services – collections, sites – back on schedule

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    Following day changes and recycling site closures at times across Christmas and New Year, all usual services – including clinicalassisted and paid-for garden waste collections – and recycling sites are now operating on their standard schedules.

    Hard work and long hours by all crews, and the help of many residents spreading the load of recycling across several collections or taking materials to recycling sites, means all delayed collections should now have been caught up.

    We are sorry for the recent delays and appreciate residents’ patience and support. Any remaining missed collections should be reported in the usual way, by contacting district council customer services.

    With continuing high levels of recycling, especially cardboard, SWP urges residents to speed up collections and help hard working crews with these steps:

    • Flatten large cardboard under recycling boxes (any more than equivalent of two recycling boxes should be dropped off at a recycling site).
    • Sort and segregate all materials in recycling boxes.
    • Rinse all containers, discard tops into rubbish.
    • If possible, squash all items except glass and aerosols.
    • Ensure all textiles, clothes and shoes are carefully bagged (not in black sacks) to stay completely dry.
    • Containers out by 7am, weighed down if windy.

    Recycling sites accept the “dry” recycling materials from home collections; check here for details of exactly what is taken where and when, plus any entry fees or charges for non-household materials.

    As well as home composting, decoration-free natural Christmas trees can be recycled by taking them to any recycling site for composting.

    If you pay for a garden waste collection, put out your decoration-free natural Christmas tree (under six feet – remove top if necessary) next to your bin or sack on your usual garden waste collection day. As a last resort, for disposal in costly, polluting landfill, put your tree next to your refuse on your usual collections day until 15 January 2016.

    Waste services experienced delays and disruptions around Christmas and New Year, when bank holidays brought day changes and extra recycling slowed down collections.

    Storm damage to a recycling depot prevented collections for thousands of homes after Christmas, while a crash blocking the M5 had a similar impact in the New Year.

    And despite extra crews and vehicles at Christmas, waste levels leaped 25% this year over 2014 – far more than expected – and almost two thirds above regular weekly tonnages, forcing many extra time consuming trips to unload.

    In particular, there was been an “Amazon avalanche” of bulky cardboard from internet shopping, filling trucks faster than any other material, while waste food was three times usual levels after Christmas, again far more than expected.

    With more than 5,000 homes due a recycling collection every hour, any disruption from blocked roads, bad weather, unexpected breakdowns and extra unloads had a substantial impact.

    A SWP spokesman said: “We are sorry for the recent delays, most of which were beyond our control, and appreciate residents’ patience and support, as well as the hard work of our crews.

    “We plan for far more waste at Christmas by adding staff and vehicles to the kerbside service, but this year vastly exceeded our estimates, while the storm damage and M5 chaos delayed many thousands of collections and created a backlog, which our crews have now cleared.

    “Anyone still experiencing collection problems should contact their district council customer services to arrange a return pick-up.”


    For more information on all aspects of waste services, check these links:

    Bad weather, from missed collections and principles to what you should do

    Recycling sites, from where and when to what and, sometimes, how much

    Christmas waste and recycling, including tips for your tree

    Food waste, which must never go in your rubbish, and how we recycle it

    Recycling, all the dozen items you can add to your kerbside collections

    Rubbish, what to add, what never to add

    Garden waste, including when collections are suspended

    Clinical waste, the key points and how to arrange a collection

    Furniture and appliance reuse (if replacing furniture, white goods or electricals)

    Freecycle and Freegle groups (for unwanted presents)

    Leftover recipes, menu planning and portion control

    Making the most of your clothes, especially at Christmas

    If not in your kerbside box, Christmas card recycling with the Woodland Trust


  4. Recycling gets into gutter for street sweeping savings

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    The leaves, gravel and rubbish found in street sweepings are being successfully recycled or turned into fuel as part of efforts by Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) to save materials and money for council tax payers.

    Collected by every district council in Somerset and until recently buried in costly and polluting landfill, street sweepings are now being sorted and reused as five grades of sand or gravel for new roads, house building and other construction tasks.

    And any organic matter – from leaves to fast food wrappers – is processed and blended into “RDF” or refuse-derived fuel for burning to generate heat and power.

    The story was captured for the TV news this week, with Sedgemoor District Council cleansing operative Eric Dyte having a starring role in explaining how the machine works and what his job entails.

    Every day, council road sweeping trucks tour the 6,600 km of Somerset’s rural lanes and town streets, collecting all the materials found in the road gutters.

    All that muck ends up at the landfill sites at Dimmer near Castle Cary and Walpole near Bridgwater operated by waste firm Viridor before being “dewatered” – allowed to drain – bulked up and sent off for processing.

    And the muck turns into brass, or at least new resources for use in construction.

    As well as the organic matter used for fuel, the mechanical shifting separates out five grades of aggregates: sharp sand, soft sand, 10mm gravel, 20mm gravel and larger gravel.

    Almost 8,000 tonnes of street sweepings were processed in the first full year of recycling, saving at least £10 a tonne over the cost of landfill burial.

    And that extra recycling was one factor that helped raise Somerset’s recycling rate to over 52%, when the national and EU recycling targets is 50% by the year 2020.

    The £80,000 a year annual saving is indicative of the efforts now being made by SWP to seek savings and efficiencies in every aspect of waste.

    These range from raising food recycling rates to seeking solutions to rubbish that go beyond landfill and trials of new materials to add to households’ recycling collections.

    A SWP spokesman said: “Even the dirt in the street is a potential resource that should not be wasted.

    “This underlines the point that every person in Somerset can help waste far less, recycle much more and so save plenty of money.”