Dark waste warning on Black Friday packaging problem

With pre-Christmas sales well underway since October, the next challenge for consumers trying to waste less while holding  onto their cash is the four-day marketing heave between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – 25 to 28 November.

Whether a bargain bonanza or a right rip-off, the main result of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is another wave of waste that can – if not carefully handled by residents – jam rubbish bins, clog up already full recycling trucks, and cause kerbside collections to be delayed or missed.

One simple option is to join the annual 60-nation Buy Nothing Day on Friday 25 November, which wants everyone to “lock up your wallets and purses, cut up your credit cards and dump the love of your life – shopping!”

Under the slogans “No purchase necessary, escape the shopocalypse, and shop less, live more”, it urges: “Challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life.

“Black Friday is creating a brand of shoppers who will trample and fight each other to get their hands on next year’s landfill. Can you resist the urge to splurge? Or will Black Friday bully you into buying things you probably don’t need?”

Still keen to spend? Somerset Waste Partnership is urging residents to shop smarter so whatever they buy is great value and will last, and to plan how they deal with waste – especially all the extra cardboard – so they and their neighbours do not miss out on collections.

Consumer revenge campaigner Martin Lewis – founder of the popular Money Saving Expert website (other such sites exist) – urges shoppers to stay tough in the face of such sales spree invitations with simple money mantras that warn against unnecessary excess.

For the skint he suggests asking: “Do I need it, can I afford it?” Those not skint should consider: “Will I use it, is it worth it?” Both should also reflect: “Have I checked if it’s cheaper elsewhere?” In either case, if any of the answers is no, Lewis is firm: “Don’t buy it.”

The problem is two-fold, explained a Somerset Waste Partnership spokesman: “First, all those purchases come in plenty of packaging, from swathes of plastic wrapping that ends up in the rubbish bin to mountains of cardboard that should be recycled.

“Second, such impulse purchases can all too often be a mistake and either end up being recycled – far worse than the waste reduction ideal by saying a firm ‘no’ – or even heading to costly, wasteful and polluting landfill via a rubbish bin or black sack.

“A rising tide of waste means that extra packaging fills rubbish bins and recycling boxes. Our trucks cannot take very big pieces or large loads of cardboard. If these are put out, they will be left.

“Even if residents flatten boxes and cut up cardboard as we have long advised, they often put out too much. We state that no more than the equivalent of two recycling boxes of card should be put out.”

Fast rising levels of shopping cardboard causes problems by swiftly filling all its allocated space on recycling trucks. Crews must then either stop collecting card or take an hour or two to return to their depot to drop off card and little else before resuming collections.

The SWP spokesman added: “If customers have excess waste, they have a choice.
If they have space, they can store it and put out the right amount for each collection until it is gone.

“If they have time and transport, they should take the excess and any other rubbish or dry recycling they can handle – everything except food waste – to a recycling site.”

For all information on winter waste, including kerbside collections, recycling sites, severe weather and missed collections, visit: www.somersetwaste.gov.uk.

Information on kerbside recycling:

Recycling sites and the materials they take:

Severe weather and waste:

How to report missed collections and get replacement containers:

More of the problems of packaging: http://www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/more/packaging/

Details of Buy Nothing Day: