Somerset Recycling Tracker

Recycling Tracker: all the details as Somerset’s recycling rate soars

Somerset Waste Partnership’s latest Recycling Tracker report displays the remarkable progress underway with the new and expanded Recycle More kerbside collections.

Pioneered in 2008 – Somerset was the first – and since copied by many other waste authorities, the Recycling Tracker monitors every tonne of the county’s household waste to identify where it goes, the companies involved and its likely use as new packaging and products.

Impressive figures in the latest report, for financial year 2021-22, reflect Somerset’s residents’ support for recycling, and hard work by the staff of our collections contractor SUEZ and recycle sites operator Biffa.

Tracking every tonne of the waste Somerset creates shows that the reprocessing companies are legitimate and that no recycling is burned, dumped or ends up in the ocean. And it shows what kinds of products and packaging Somerset “waste” can become, from cardboard boxes to plastic pipes, soil conditioner to car parts.

Overall, Somerset recycled and reused 149,980 tonnes with a recycling rate for the year of 56.2% – a jump from 52.4%, even with Recycle More not fully rolled out county-wide – and so saved 133,663 tonnes of carbon, while sending 108,428 tonnes to generate electricity through the Avonmouth energy-from-waste plan and just 12,567 tonnes to landfill.

Somerset Waste Partnership and its contractors have a commitment that, if there is reprocessing capacity and demand here, all materials collected for recycling will stay in the UK.

Thus 97.2% of Somerset’s recycling is reprocessed first in the UK and, at 51.4%, even more than before of Somerset’s recycling stays in the county itself. Most of the 2.8% exported was card and paper going back to firms in Europe and Asia to make yet more cardboard boxes for imports of white goods and electronics.

With plastic pots, tubs and trays added to kerbside collections, Somerset’s plastics performance shows the tonnage soaring to 5,771, up from 4,359 tonnes 2020-21, with 99.4% recycled here in the UK and the rest tracked to firms making new plastic bottles and other packaging.

Somerset’s impressive recycling rate puts it among the leading authorities for recycling, with plenty of potential for residents to raise that even further. And it also makes Somerset one of the very best areas for carbon saving. That is all down to the kerbside sorting and simple systems – not the mess, costs and complexity of single-bin mixed recycling – that ensures that the kind of low-contamination, high-quality materials that the market demands.

Of the 149,980 tonnes recycled or reused – electrical items to clothes, bottles to cans, cardboard to cartons, wood to metals – the largest single material is the 45,326 tonnes of garden waste composted in Somerset and turned into the Revive soil improver. Another hefty load is the 23,385 tonnes of food waste. This is transformed by the Somerset anaerobic digestion plant at Walpole near Bridgwater into electricity for homes and businesses, plus farm compost to help grow more food.

Heaviest of the “dry” materials is paper and card at 26,718 tonnes, which goes to make newsprint and yet more cardboard. The 18,602 tonnes of glass bottles and jars is one of only figures to show a slight decrease, unlike the increase in metals to 8,566 tonnes, which become anything from new cans to car parts. Also up – thanks again to the extra materials collected with Recycle More – are electricals and batteries at 4,024 tonnes of electrical items.

Most people in Somerset are recycling. Are you?


View or download the most recent edition:

SWP Recycling Tracker report 2021-22

View or download earlier editions (NB: two editions were entitled Beyond the Kerb; Recycling to Resources, and before that the report was known as the End Use Register):

SWP Recycling Tracker report 2020-21

SWP Beyond the Kerb Recycling to Resources 2019-20



SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2016-2017

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2015-2016

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2014-2015

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2013-2014

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2012-2013

Paper Sent to paper mills in the UK and overseas to be recycled into newsprint and other paper and board products.
Cardboard Sent to board mills in the UK and overseas to be recycled into new cardboard.
Mixed container glass Sent to reprocessing facilities in the UK to be turned into mineral wool and new glass bottles and jars.
Cans and foil Sent to reprocessing facilities in the UK to be sorted into steel and aluminium.  Steel cans are made into new steel products and aluminium cans are recycled into more cans and other aluminium products.
Food waste Sent to an anaerobic digestion facility near Bridgwater to produce a biofertiliser used on agricultural land and biogas used to generate electricity.
Garden waste Composted in Somerset by Viridor and local farmers.  Used on site or sold as Revive Compost at recycling centres.
Textiles Sent for reuse in the developing world or shredded into cotton felt/wadding/mops and industrial wiping cloths.
Shoes Sent to developing nations to be refurbished and reused.
Plastic bottles Sent to reprocessors in the UK and overseas to be recycled into various plastic items such as films, pipes, compost bins and fleece jackets.
Beverage cartons Sent to reprocessor in the UK to be separated into paper for cardboard products, plastic to generate energy, and aluminium to be used for aluminium products.
Fridges and Freezers Broken down into separate components for reuse in manufacturing, and CFCs extracted for safe disposal.
Electrical Broken down into separate components, baled and recycled.
Bric a Brac Sent to various local outlets via collection agents at each recycling site.
Household batteries Separated into different fractions (i.e. metal and plastic) for reuse in manufacturing.
Automotive batteries Separated into different fractions (i.e. metal and plastic) for reuse in manufacturing.
Cooking oil Turned into biofuel to generate electricity and heat.
Engine oil Oils are recovered and blended for use as an alternative fuel.
Paint (water-based) Recycled into new paint products.
Scrap metal Sent to various reprocessors who break it down into separate components, bale and recycle it.
Wood (Clean and Low grade timber) Some of the wood is chipped and made into a range of proucts including animal bedding, equestrian surfaces.  Some is incinerated to produce energy and heat.
Plasterboard Separated into gypsum which is reprocessed into new plasterboard, and paper which is recycled into a variety of new paper materials.