Recycle More

Somerset gives green light to Recycle More

With formal backing, all six partners of the Somerset Waste Board meeting on Friday 16 December 2016 approved the proposal to introduce the new kerbside collection service collection package entitled Recycle More.

This will lead to improved recycling services with the introduction of new materials to collections – plastic pots, tubs and trays, small electrical items and household batteries.

In tandem with the expanded recycling service, household refuse collections will change in frequency from fortnightly to three weekly.

Garden waste and clinical waste collections will remain unchanged. Collections from flats will remain unchanged, except that some extra materials may be collected.

Q and A

•    What is “Recycle More”?

“Recycle More” is a scheme to revitalise and improve recycling collection services in Somerset, with more materials being taken out of the rubbish bin and transferred to the recycling containers.  This will mean residents with kerbside collections will be able to recycle: –

Every week:  All paper, cardboard, food waste, food and drink cans, aerosols, glass bottles and jars, tin/aluminium foil, shoes, textiles (unstuffed) as well as all plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, small electrical items and household batteries.

With so much being taken away every week there will be far less to collect in the rubbish bins and it would be wasteful to carry on collecting rubbish in the way we are at the moment, so rubbish collections will reduce to once every three weeks.

•    Why is it happening?

While many of us just want to recycle more, we also know from analysis of the things people put in their rubbish bins that, right now, half the rubbish thrown away could simply and easily have been recycled in today’s kerbside collections.  We cannot afford to continue like this.

Disposing of rubbish is expensive and we, as residents of Somerset, have to think about what that means.  Do we want to recycle more or do we want to cut public parks, street cleansing, services for children and disabled people?  Do we want to recycle more and keep council tax down, or let costs rise?

We also need to think about the resources we throw away.  Every time people throw a food can or a plastic bottle in their rubbish bin it can never come back, and those natural resources will not last forever.

Recycling more is a simple, easy option for all of us and just takes a few minutes each week.  Endless rubbish is an expensive and dirty luxury none of us can afford.

•    How do you know it will work?

We trialled the service in over a thousand homes for several months to make sure it could work.  Yes, people were concerned when it started that they would not manage, but very soon that switched to surprise at how little was left in their bin after three weeks.  By the end of it 86% of the people who responded to our surveys told us they preferred the new service to their old fortnightly system with less recycling.

We are also far from being the first.  Three weekly rubbish collections are already running successfully in fourteen other areas up and down the country (with one – Falkirk – even moving to monthly collections) and more are planning to.

•    How much will Recycle More save for Somerset?

We estimate a saving for Somerset of £1.7 million every year – valuable savings that could be spent supporting the important services we all value – and it could be higher.

•    When will changes happen?

Decisions are still being made and, assuming approval, there is a lot of work to be done.  We will not see any changes to kerbside collections until autumn 2017 at least.  Everyone will be notified well in advance before changes happen.

•    Will it affect people in flats?

Frequency of communal collection facilities will not change, so if you share a bin store your bins will be emptied just the same as before.  We are, however, going to make sure that every bin store that has space will have the opportunity to recycle more as well, by adding cardboard and plastic bottles to the materials you can recycle.

•    How often will garden waste be collected?

Apart from some collection day changes, Garden waste collection services will not change and continue fortnightly (except when suspended in the weeks after Christmas).

•    Will you let me know before anything changes?

Yes. We will all get a letter to let us know when Recycle More is coming our way.  We will also have roadshows in local areas

•    Should I start saving up these new materials now?

Not yet, but do start thinking about how much in the way of plastic pots, tubs and trays you are putting in your bin and the difference it will make if you are able to recycle  them every week.

•    Will I be given new/replacement recycling containers?

Yes, as part of the rollout of the new service you will receive a durable, reusable SWP recycling bag to help you  store the new materials.  You will be offered the opportunity to order replacement recycling containers if yours are old and need replacing. Before then, if you currently have broken or missing recycling containers, visit our container ordering webpage to order replacements free of charge.

I’m concerned…

•    Won’t it be a problem for nappies or “adult hygiene waste”?

With so much waste coming out of your refuse bin, you should have space.  We also know that this kind of waste kept in a wheeled bin is perfectly safe for that time, so simply bag up and bin just as you do now.  Of course some people will need extra and we will help if there is genuine need.  There will be plenty of opportunity to discuss these things when Recycle More comes your way.

•    Will my bin be big enough?

When we ran the Recycle More trials in 2014 a number of people were concerned that they would run out of room before the three weeks.  However, having taken a number of materials out of their refuse bin they found that they did have space.  After your property has moved over to the scheme, if you find that you are struggling, we will be able to speak to you about your concerns.

•    Won’t this cause more fly tipping?

We do not expect that the introduction of Recycle More will encourage more fly-tipping as more material will be collected every week.  When we tested the service in 1,100Somerset households it did not happen.

Remember, the most common items which are fly-tipped are bulky household items such as old sofas or trade waste.  There are no changes planned to current bulky waste collection services or to Recycling Centre services.

We will also continue to offer commercial waste recycling services and advise businesses about the facilities available.

•    Will it cause more vermin/flies?

We will continue to collect food waste weekly and will also start to take much more food packaging that might attract pests, so Recycle More should help matters, not make them worse.

Just as before, we also advise you to bag items such as nappies, adult hygiene products and pet wastes before putting in your refuse bin.

•    People will find this confusing?  Some will need extra help.

We will be taking this very seriously as we want everyone to be able to use their services with the minimum of fuss, no matter what your circumstances.

Before your property joins the Recycle More collection scheme we will send you a pack of information, which will include a guide to services and a collection calendar.  This will also be available on-line, in other languages and can be supplied in other formats as requested (for example audio versions).

We are also planning to introduce an app so mobile phone users can get collection day reminders wherever they are.  Along with improvements to our website, most people will have the information just a few key clicks away.

Before we launch the service in your area, we will hold roadshows where our staff will be available to answer your questions and there will be more staff available in your area during the launch to answer any concerns you may have.  And, of course, we are only ever a phone call or e-mail away.

•    This is the only service I get for my council tax, what right have you got to cut it?

We are improving the service you get every single week so would not describe it as a cut, but we realise some people will see things differently.

Council tax pays for many services some of which, like roads and recycling collections, we rely on daily or weekly.  Others are there if we or our families ever face a crisis.  It is important your money is spent where it is really needed.  We all need a good, reliable weekly recycling service that keeps costs down, cuts pollution and takes away things like food waste.  It is right and proper that we also look at rubbish to make sure what we provide is necessary and not wasting money.

•    There are already problems with waste in my area, won’t this make things worse?

There are some places where, because of their situation, problems are more likely to occur whatever the frequency of collection. As we already do now, we will work with people in that area to try and resolve these and make sure we have a suitable system for the situation.

•    Can’t you save money by being more efficient?

We already spend less on waste than the average compared to many areas in England, in large part due to efficiencies already made.  Recycle More will make the service even more efficient.

•    Why can’t we put it one big bin like they do in some other places?

An “all in one bin” system would cost us more because you would still need multi-million pound plants to sort the materials out before they can be recycled.  Also, we could not be so sure about how good the material would be after it has been mixed up and sorted out again.

The system used here keeps jobs in Somerset, ensures high quality materials and keeps costs down.

•    You trialled it in Wiveliscombe but not in bigger town centres

Wiveliscombe has a good mix of housing types including town centre terraces opening onto the pavement and some flats, so taught us some valuable lessons. We have also learned a lot from the local authorities – like those in Greater Manchester – that have already switched without major issues.  They are much more densely populated than Somerset towns.

•    Isn’t this pressure to recycle all coming from Europe?

These are important issues for everyone, wherever they are.  Having reliable sources of good quality recycled materials benefits UK industry, so keeping costs down and making better use of limited resources is good for Somerset and good for the country.