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  1. Somerset gives green light to Recycle More

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    Approval has been given to the new Recycle More weekly kerbside collections that are planned to take the dozen existing materials, including food, and add plastic pots, tubs and trays – long urged by many Somerset residents – as well as household batteries and small electrical items.

    Taking extra materials each week will see recycling rates jump and result in thousands of tonnes less rubbish, which will be collected every three weeks when Recycle More is rolled out across the county in several phases.

    After all six Somerset councils separately and overwhelmingly endorsed Recycle More, Somerset Waste Partnership’s governing Board of two councillors from each of those same local authorities – five districts and the county council – unanimously gave it the green light.

    Using a range of new vehicles to suit Somerset’s varied conditions and take all materials at one time, including the growing “internet avalanche” of cardboard, Recycle More is planned to collect the light but bulky plastic food packaging in a tough new base-weighted store-flat bag.

    Backed by a comprehensive communications campaign, with a planned collection reminder app for smartphones, Recycle More is expected to recycle almost 13,000 extra tonnes of materials now being landfilled each year, cut rubbish levels significantly, and save money that can fund other essential services.

    While the design of Recycle More means it would take exactly the same amount of waste – rubbish and recycling – overall, sending less rubbish to costly landfill offers cost cuts when budgets met by all council tax payers for other vital services are being squeezed.

    Thus by cutting back on cash thrown away when needlessly burying what could be recycled, and offering the chance for all families to take greater responsibility for their waste, Recycle More aims to bring serious savings in money and materials.

    Extensive experience, in-depth research and a range of popular trials with 5,000 Somerset families of all sizes and situations over several months showed that services like Recycle More create a “virtuous circle”, with the newly-added items prompting more recycling of all materials, from food to glass and card.

    In a survey, more than 80% of families in the trials who had three-weekly rubbish collections and extra weekly recycling found it worked so well they wanted to continue with the same service.

    With research showing no significant problems with three weekly rubbish collections, SWP guidance for Recycle More will be unchanged: recycle every bit of food, double bag smelly waste, rinse all containers, keep waste bins, boxes and bags in the shade, and ask for – and follow – SWP advice.

    Similar successful schemes of extra materials and reduced frequency rubbish collections have long been underway for millions of residents in 14 council areas across the UK, with many more expected and similar plans for parts of Devon.

    Recycle More will keep communal collections from flats as they are, except that extra weekly recycling materials will be added if possible, and maintain clinical, garden and bulky waste collections, while assisted collections will continue but on the new frequency.

    SWP has promised that families with children in nappies, and other residents with additional needs, such as those using adult hygiene products, will continue to get priority treatment if they require extra help in managing their waste.

    Meanwhile, over-eager recyclers who have already begun putting out extra materials, such as plastic pots, tubs and trays, are being reminded that crews will leave these behind until the new service reaches their street in one of the three phases being planned.

    Latest national figures show that after five years of growth, the latest average recycling rates slipped back from 44.9% in 2014 to 44.3% in 2015; Somerset’s recycling rate is already at 52% and Recycle More could help that jump in the next few years.

    A Somerset Waste Partnership spokesman said: “Recycle More is a huge step forward for Somerset residents to maximise recycling, minimise residual waste, and make big savings to invest in other vital services.

    “If people recycle all they can, including every scrap of food, they will have very few problems, but if anyone does face difficulties after Recycle More starts, they just need to ask their local council for advice or extra help.”

    For more information see our Recycle More page.

  2. Festive waste collections still one day later this week

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    The joyous celebrations of Christmas and New Year can also be occasions of cost and bulging rubbish bins, or a great chance to recycle much more, waste far less, save money and create a great family holiday.

    Here is our full guide to the festive season, from the details of all waste services to easy hints and simple tips to get the best from food, gifts, decorations and the tree.

    Changing days for collections

    Until Friday 6 January, garden waste services are suspended and all other collections are one day later.

    That includes Friday pick-ups on Saturday 7 January. Check here for more details.

    All collections of all materials resume from Monday 9 January on their usual days.

    Winter weather advice

    Severe weather can disrupt kerbside collections and recycling sites. Efforts will always be made to maintain services, if judged safe and subject to our severe weather collection principles.

    If snow or ice prevents collections, crews will make a return pick-up as soon as possible when conditions improve; crews will work later and on weekends to catch up.

    If your collection containers were out for 7am but missed due to severe weather, put out your containers by 7am for up to four calendar days for recycling, and up to seven calendar days for rubbish. If there is still no collection, take containers back in and put them out by 7am on the next usual collection day.

    Please assist elderly or vulnerable neighbours during periods of severe weather and, where possible, clear snow and ice from pavements yourself, which helps pedestrians, kerbside collectors and your postperson.

    During severe weather, garden, bulky and clinical waste collection services may be suspended without notice to help maintain main services.

    Got a lot (waste, that is)? Get it gone

    Apart from the sheer volume of stuff sent to landfill in rubbish bins, the biggest festive problem is the “internet avalanche” of cardboard that disrupts collections by forcing trucks to stop work to unload card when space remains for everything else. Top tip: flatten boxes and cut up large sheets.

    Rubbish bins lids must be closed with no extra waste outside. Card and any other excess refuse and recycling can, if you have space or time and transport, either be stored to add some each week or taken with other materials to recycling sites.

    For more on what and how to recycle all you can through kerbside collections, check out our comprehensive guide.

    Given all the extra rubbish and recycling that many people put out after New Year, risking delayed or missed collections just as the weather gets worse, smart residents will want to clear any waste they can before the festive season, and make good use of recycling sites after New Year to ensure they are not left with anything uncollected.

    Check here for all the details of recycling sites, from opening hours to the list of what each site takes.

    Naked and natural? We’re talking trees

    Your naked and natural Christmas tree – real ones with all decorations and lights removed – can go out with garden waste subscribers’ bins or sacks on the first usual collection day from Monday 9 January, be taken to any recycling site, or simply be chopped or chipped to add to your compost bin, as can all that beautiful foliage used as decoration to enhance your home. Not suitable for recycling are all the glittery artificial trees that fail to survive the first day of Christmas, never mind Twelfth Night. South Somerset residents can also take advantage of around 30 locations where real Christmas trees can be dropped off for chipping.

    Xmas recycling sites and vehicle permits

    Usual timetables apply to recycling sites, including closure of all sites on New Year’s Day.

    As always, sort before you go, check opening times, any entry fees or material charges, and what is accepted – not all sites take the same – ask and take staff advice, and always stay safe.

    Do not be surprised if your black sacks are opened to check for materials that should be recycled, not landfilled; this is one way recycling sites achieve their fantastic 76% average recycling rate (some are much higher) that saves materials and holds down waste costs.

    The new measures to cut congestion, improve services and maintain safety at recycling sites, with vehicle permits and access times, apply as usual over the festive period.  Van, pick-up and trailer permit holders can use open sites on any weekday and 1pm-4pm Saturdays (not Sundays or 8am-1pm Saturdays).

    No free permit yet for your van, pick-up or trailer? Check the details and apply here.

    Eat your freezer, love your leftovers

    Food can be the big one, from a hefty price tag to a heavy load of waste, and those two factors are connected, as we throw away uneaten good food for lack of storage and clear still-crowded plates because we made far too much.

    Buying good food and drink which is then thrown straight in the bin currently costs a typical household £470 a year, rising to nearly £700 for a family. Do not let it hit you in the pocket – especially at Christmas, an expensive time for all of us.

    Focus on festive feasting with no waste. Involve the family to see how much you can save by only buying food that will get eaten. And check out the free and easy online advice and tools – see our festive food page – to plan meals and check portion sizes so you have all the sprouts, roast potatoes and turkey you need and no more.

    Free up space for all that extra family food by eating into your fridge, freezer and cupboards ahead of Christmas.

    Write a shopping list, and stick to it, as this will make sure you are not tempted to buy things you do not need. If you do pick up an extra item, check the date and storage guidance so you can plan them into your meals to ensure they get eaten.

    For anything that is left over, get creative. Christmas can generate some delicious leftovers to be turned into tasty new dishes that can be eaten immediately or may be able to be frozen for later.

    You would be amazed at how many foods you can freeze – check our list here. And you can freeze food right up until the use-by date, so if you have spotted something in the fridge that is just about to go over its date, you can extend its life by popping it in the freezer.

    Gifts that last, gifts to treasure forever

    For Christmas gifts, the key is to go low or no waste, from digital presents, such as online subscriptions or downloadable items, to experiences, tokens or e-books, and quality items that will both be treasured for years and worth repairing or passing on later. And look for gifts that are vintage, reused or made from recycled materials.

    One key step is to ask for and prepare your own wish list to take the guesswork from Christmas and avoid unwanted gifts that end up in the bin.

    If you do get a gift that you do not need, think first of all the options for reuse, from selling online to re-gifting it where it will be welcome, or donating it to charity, before considering recycling it.

    Check here for more advice on all things Christmas.

    Bedeck the backdrop for a nifty Noel

    When you get the lights and baubles for your home and Christmas tree out again each year, you are proving the benefit – in cost, in time, in materials – of reuse.

    And there are lots of other ways to cut back on waste, such as by recycling last year’s Christmas cards into gift tags, using items from around the home to make decorations, and getting creative for a glittering tree by hanging everything from pine cones to old keys and broken jewellery.

    Mistletoe and other greenery offer the ultimate traditional look, cost little or nothing and can be composted later, so do deck your halls with boughs of holly and other garden displays.

    Check back here for updates to help your Christmas be low waste and low cost family fun, including all our advice on recycling everything from the cards and wrapping paper to your tree. And you can sign up to our monthly e-newsletter – see below – for useful hints and simple tips all year round.

     

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