Somerset households are throwing away at least 1kg less rubbish per week under new recycling scheme
By Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter
29th Sep 2022 | Local News
Somerset households are putting at least a kilogram less rubbish each week into their black refuse bins since a new kerbside recycling scheme was introduced.
The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) began rolling out Recycle More in October 2020, with more items being recycled at the kerbside and refuse collections moving from fortnightly to once every three weeks.
Figures published before a meeting of the Somerset waste board on Friday (September 23) show that the amount of recyclable waste being thrown away in the black refuse collections has declined significantly across all four phases of the roll-out.
The SWP estimates that Recycle More will eventually see weekly refuse volumes from households drop by 20 per cent, preventing thousands of tonnes a year from being incinerated or going into landfill.
The Mendip district was the first part of Somerset to receive Recycle More, with kerbside collections being rolled out in October 2020 and communal properties in the district following in March 2021.
This was followed by a roll-out in South Somerset in June 2021 and the former Taunton Deane area in November 2021.
Finally, Sedgemoor and the former West Somerset area began kerbside collections in February 2022, with communal properties following in June.
Figures showing the change in refuse waste volumes – i.e. the amount being thrown out in the black bins rather in recycled at the kerbside – were published before the waste board met in Taunton on Friday morning (September 23).
In the Mendip area (which includes Frome, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Street and Wells), there has been an average decrease in refuse of more than 20 per cent since October 2020 – the equivalent of 1.6kg per week per household.
In South Somerset (which includes Chard, Crewkerne, Ilminster, Wincanton and Yeovil), the drop is around 14 per cent in the last 12 months, or 1kg per household per week.
In the former Taunton Deane area (including Taunton, Wellington and Wiveliscombe), refuse volumes have fallen by 23 per cent since Recycle More was introduced – around 1.5kg per household per week.
Sedgemoor (including Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Cheddar and Highbridge) and the former West Somerset area (including Minehead, Watchet and Williton) have seen refuse volumes decrease of 20 per cent and 18 per cent respectively – though this is only based on four months' worth of data.
Taken across the county, Somerset residents are throwing away 450 tonnes per week less refuse, and an extra 50 to 75 tonnes per week is being recycled at the kerbside since Recycle More was introduced.
These trends come in spite of numerous setbacks to the roll-out – including the coronavirus pandemic, missed collections due to extreme weather and driver shortages, and the work being needed to improve the depots at Walford Cross near Taunton and in Williton.
Mark Ford, the SWP's head of communications and engagement, said in his written report: "The longer the service in place, the clearer the long-term trends will be.
"But at this stage the indications continue to be that the introduction of Recycle More is reducing refuse by around 20 per cent.
"This reduction in overall waste is a win-win: less waste is being generated and a greater proportion of what is generated is going to recycling.
"We need to see more data, including from other parts of the country, before drawing conclusions about the 'new normal' and how Recycle More has affected this.
"However, the reduction in residual waste and significant increase in our recycling rate are clear to see already."