Waste action conference 2016 – the power of community

Highlighting the great ideas and hard work of many community organisations, Somerset’s latest waste action conference is proving a launchpad for new ideas, collaborations and activities.

Dozens of groups from throughout the county were represented at the day-long event, which took place in North Petherton, and offered plenty of positive feedback.

interesting discussions at waste action conferenceA packed agenda showcased presentations of local waste reduction, reuse and repair initiatives and offered themed workshops sharing experiences of community engagement. It provided a great opportunity to learn more about local community waste action initiatives and consider next steps.

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) highlighted the Waste Not community campaign featured on the BBC programme Hugh’s War on Waste and tested potential interest in a collaborative Waste Not Somerset campaign to add local voices alongside groups across the country. A Waste Not Somerset Facebook group could be developed to share waste action events and tips, boost publicity and encourage engagement in and around Somerset.

Continuing the waste reduction theme, the networking lunch came from the Surplus Supper Club, catering arm of FareShare South West, which works with surplus food from industry partners that would otherwise be wasted, despite being fresh and within date. Thousands of tonnes of perfectly good food are wasted in the South West each year due to packaging errors, out of date promotions, discontinued lines and vegetables not being up to spec.

Eye-catching displays and the information exchange table helped groups to share project activities, ideas and up-coming events with others at the conference.

DisplayStallsPhotos from top left to right: Quantock Eco, The Green House, Somerset Community Food, Transition Minehead and Alcombe. Photos from bottom left to right: Carymoor Compost Champions, West Somerset and Somerset Cloth Nappy Library, Children’s Scrapstore Taunton

Next Steps

Delegates were asked to share their “next steps”, with many saying they would take ideas and information about resource materials from the conference to their groups to explore possible action on initiatives involving reuse, sharing, repairing or food waste reduction, and one even considered setting up another Men’s Shed project.

Representatives from Stockland Bristol Parish Meeting and Wivey Action were inspired to hold a give and take day as Green Wedmore had done with its Freecycle Day, while a Transition Athelney delegate planned to forward suggestion of a Freecycle day or repair café to other group members.

Tess from Sampford Peverell and District Sustainable Villages said “The Library of Things was a great idea that we could possibly follow up on in some format – possibly just advertising the availability of things to borrow from a variety of people through the parish magazines.”

Various delegates were exploring their own way of promoting food waste reduction locally, a delegate from Transition Minehead planned to check out Sustainable Wells’ coffee grounds recycling initiative, and Simon Ratsey from Transition Town Wellington sent his own article to the Wellington Weekly News about the conference.

Somerset Waste Partnership’s next steps includes exploring issues arising from the conference to improve practical community support for waste action and facilitating the collaborative Waste Not Somerset campaign.

Conference feedback

The conference prompted positive reactions about what they enjoyed or found most useful from the day:

“I found it really useful hearing first-hand accounts of what groups (and individuals) have successfully initiated in their community.”
“The table top displays facilitated seeing who is associated with what project and was very useful for fast networking.”
“I enjoyed getting facts and figures from good speakers on their subject.”
“Hearing what great progress is being made at community level.”
“Feeling connected to other concerned individuals.”
“Meeting the other participants and seeing what great potential the army of volunteers could/can achieve.”


Reducing, reusing and recycling our waste (3MB)
David Mansell, Somerset Waste Partnership

An introduction to scrapstores (3MB)
Lisa Hunt, Children’s Scrapstore Taunton

Furniture Reuse Groups helping low income families (2MB)
Liz Bryant, Sedgemoor Furniture Store

SHARE – a library of things, Frome (1MB)
Anna Francis, Frome Town Council

Sharing repair skills with your community (2MB)
Neil Purves, Tiverton Repair Café

Men’s Sheds: Making friends while making things (822kB)
Ivor Dixon, Somerset Levels and Moors Sheds (SLaMS)

Giving it away with community Freecycle events (952kB)
Steve Mewes, Green Wedmore

Washable nappies: better for your budget, kinder for their world (684kB) Stephanie Patterson and Federica Smith, Somerset and West Somerset Cloth Nappy Library

Getting more from your garden with Compost Champions (2MB)
Rupert Farthing, Carymoor Environmental Trust

Local Love Food Hate Waste resources and Food Champions (1MB)
Beth Prince, Somerset Waste Partnership

FareShare South West and Surplus Supper Club diverting surplus food to the community (2MB)
Jacqui Reeves, FareShare South West

Waste Not Want Not Somerset (1MB)
Beth Prince, Somerset Waste Partnership

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