1. Somerset residents mark decades of waste progress

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    With every can, bottle and apple core they recycle this week, Somerset residents are marking a significant double anniversary.

    It is two decades since all six Somerset councils – five districts and the county – formally agreed to jointly drive forward an environmental agenda to help households waste less, recycle more and save money.

    And it is 10 years since that agreement was transformed into the innovative Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) as services were improved and streamlined to drive up recycling from barely 15% to its present 52%.

    Since 1997, Somerset’s waste history shows how the commitment of residents to recycling has helped it pioneer new ways of working, with careful research and planning eliminating difficulties, enhancing services and improving performance.

    These include launching the UK’s first major weekly collection of household food waste, and later ensuring that all collected food waste is consumed by billions of “burping bacteria” at Somerset’s £10m anaerobic digestion plant to produce power for the grid and farm compost to grow more food.

    As the Sort It and Sort It Plus kerbside collection services rolled out across every home in Somerset between 2003 and 2011, new materials were added to recycling until around a dozen are now taken every week, while in a simple switch, rubbish pick-ups went from weekly to fortnightly.

    And in another UK first, Somerset began tracking every tonne of recycling to establish an annual end-use register of where it all goes and what it may become. At the same time, new recycling sites were build, older sites revamped and new materials added, such as cooking oil and beverage cartons, so their recycling rates today average more than 75%.

    The long serving chair of SWP’s governing Somerset Waste Board is Cllr Derek Yeomans, who said: “Somerset’s waste progress over the decades has been impressive, thanks to its residents’ commitment to recycling, giving us great confidence of continued improvements in the years to come.”

    And Cllr Yeomans issued an anniversary challenge: “As part of the celebrations, let us all take another step forward by ensuring that all food waste – every scrap – is recycled via our lockable brown kerbside bins to prevent any from heading to landfill in our rubbish.”

    Click here for a more detailed history of waste services in Somerset, including a timeline and selection of awards.



  2. Looking for a new job? Full-time work on offer now

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    Working in the recycling industry means doing a job that keeps you fit, helps the environment, gets you home with plenty of the day left to spare and pays good rates.  It is hard work but rewarding work.

    Right now, our contractor, Kier, is looking for reliable women and men interested in a job with a future as loaders and drivers. This is full-time, permanent work in Somerset.

    For the right people who fit the bill, there is plenty of scope for career progression, including paid training for loaders to become qualified truck drivers.

    If you are interested, or know someone who might be, contact Kier in any of these ways:

    Call 0117 916 0760 (Monday-Friday 8am-5pm).

    Text DRIVESW to 88802.


  3. Fly-tipping lands Somerset man in jail with a £280 bill

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    A Somerset man who fly-tipped waste over his garden fence into a back lane spent a night in jail for not dealing with a fine for the crime – and left court with a bill for £280.

    Unemployed father-of-two Marcus Jones, aged 25, was arrested and held overnight after he failed to appear for a summons about an unpaid fixed penalty notice for dumping rubbish.

    Responding to questions from a council enforcement officer, Jones admitted fly-tipping, said he was not aware that his conduct was an offence and apologised.

    But he never paid the fixed penalty notice, which is reduced from £400 to £250 if settled early, saying that he could not afford to meet the cost.

    Jones, from Dukes Mead in Bridgwater, was fined £250 for fly-tipping, with a £30 victim surcharge but the court was told he would not have to pay costs because of his low income.

    Sedgemoor District Council solicitor Steve Hellard, prosecuting at Taunton magistrates, said: “Fly tipping blights local communities and poses a risk to human health and the environment.”

    He added that, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, householders have a legal “duty of care with regard to their waste and a duty to ensure that such waste is properly disposed of”.

    Fixed penalty notices and court prosecutions are part of a Somerset-wide campaign to fight fly-tipping that has included closing a road that became a dumping blackspot in Mendip.

    With special training and coordination efforts, surveillance cameras and warning signs, Somerset’s councils have seen fly-tipping across the county fall to a five-year low.

    And there are hopes that a new push can be launched to tackle “Facebook fly-tips” with online warnings about criminal dumpers for those using social media to get waste taken away.

    Check here for the simple steps anyone can take to fight fly-tipping.