Somerset gives green light to Recycle More

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.