Residents in Somerset could see changes to their recycling and refuse collection service in the next few years if plans by the county’s six councils go ahead.
Proposals for extra recycling materials – plastic pots, tubs and trays; Tetra Pak-style cartons; small electrical items; household batteries – to be collected weekly would see far less in rubbish bins.
With the potential for so much material to be collected for recycling each week, the councils, working through their joint Somerset Waste Partnership, have been exploring whether the refuse collection frequency could be reduced to three weekly.
This move would save millions over the coming years, holding down council tax rises and funding other vital services.
With food waste continuing to be collected weekly and steps to help families with children in nappies, Somerset Waste Partnership says extensive trials have demonstrated that those who recycle well will manage without problems
Trials of three-weekly collections with the extra recycling achieved significant success, with much more recycled, far less rubbish and an overwhelming majority of those taking part backing the new system.
Nothing firm has yet been agreed but the decision must be made in the next two months in time to order replacements for the ageing fleet of recycling vehicles. Changes, if agreed, would be introduced in stages over at least two years.
But Somerset Waste Partnership is confident this is a practical, sustainable and cost-effective solution to help residents recycle more, waste less and save money.
Somerset Waste Partnership also hopes that the kerbside collection changes will happen alongside an end to landfilling rubbish in Somerset, with waste processed elsewhere to extract materials or burn it for power.
Increased recycling and reduced landfill are an environmental and economic win-win and will help keep Somerset among the top recycling areas in the UK.
A study of what people actually throw away shows that around 50% of the existing average Somerset rubbish bin is food or other materials that can already be recycled in present kerbside collections, while around another 10% of the bin could be taken to recycling sites.
Landfilling Somerset’s rubbish costs £12 million a year.
The proposed new service would collect the following materials each week:
- Food waste
- Kitchen towel
- Newspaper and magazines
- Directories and other paper
- Beverage cartons (Tetra Pak etc.)
- Glass bottles and jars
- Food and drink cans
- Aluminium foil
- Plastic bottles
- Plastic pots (yoghurt etc.)
- Plastic tubs (margarine, ice cream etc.)
- Plastic trays (fruit etc.)
- Small electricals
- Household batteries