The chart below shows household waste and recycling totals in Somerset since 2000.

From 2000 to 2007/08, Somerset’s recycling rate increased steadily and total household waste fell, as shown in the chart above, despite a growing population and more households. During this period, there were many improvements to recycling services, with kerbside recycling collections switched from fortnightly to weekly in some districts and more materials recycled, including food waste. Refuse collections started to be moved from weekly to fortnightly, which also encouraged more recycling. At the same time, recycling increased at Recycling Centres with more materials collected separately.

From 2007/08 to 2011/12, the amount recycled fell a little but total waste fell even more, following the credit crunch and introduction of austerity measures. During this period, Sort It Plus collections were extended throughout all Somerset districts, with cardboard and plastic bottles added to kerbside recycling collections, and recycling collections being made weekly and refuse fortnightly in all Somerset districts.

Since 2011/12, there has been a steady increase in recycling and in total household waste produced, along with on-going changes in the composition of household waste. Paper has reduced significantly, while the amount of cardboard and plastics continues to grow.

Throughout the period since 2000, there have also been increasing efforts to prevent waste and to reduce the amount of business waste entering services for household waste. Food waste has been a big target for prevention and recycling, because much of it could be avoided and yet it has consistently been the largest single material contributing to costly household waste disposal.

Performance reports and service data

Detailed performance reports are presented in papers to Somerset Waste Board. An annual performance report is usually presented in June each year and a half-year report in December. These include materials recycled, energy recovered from waste, residual waste for disposal, number and types of fly-tips, together with comparisons to data from previous years.

Waste composition

The most recent report on Somerset’s waste composition and changes in arisings was produced in November 2012.

National waste statistics

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) publish national data and statistics on waste and recycling.