Impressive progress is revealed in a new Somerset Waste Partnership report on the destination of the county’s 137,146 tonnes of recycling in 2020-21.
Tracking each tonne shows that everything residents recycled kerbside or at recycle sites was recycled, 97.8% in the UK, up from an already impressive 90%. What went abroad was mainly card for boxes for imports.
Plastics showed striking success, reflecting the first impact of Recycle More collections rolling out across Somerset. Of 4,359 tonnes collected, 99.4% stayed in the UK to become food containers, fleeces and pipes.
Almost 51% of Somerset recycling stayed in the county. The largest single material recycled was the 39,432 tonnes of garden waste composted in Somerset to become Revive soil improver. And the anaerobic digestion plant near Bridgwater transformed 22,542 tonnes of food waste into electricity for homes and businesses, and farm compost to help grow more food.
The heaviest “dry” material was paper and card at 24,731 tonnes, which made newsprint and cardboard from Dorset to Kent, while some went to Europe and Asia. The 19,721 tonnes of glass bottles and jars went to Sheffield and Wales, while 7,868 tonnes of metals – mainly steel and aluminium cans – were recycled into new cans and car parts via companies from Devon to Doncaster.
In 2008, Somerset was the first waste authority to offer transparency and trust with its pioneering annual tracker. By tracing the first use companies and locations for all of Somerset’s recycling, the tracker shows that none of it as burned, dumped or ended in the sea.
Somerset’s 52.4% recycling rate puts it in the top fifth of authorities for recycling, with 60% or more within reach through Recycle More. And it also makes Somerset one of the very best areas for carbon saving, at 123,036 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
Somerset Waste Partnership and its contractors have a commitment that all materials collected for recycling will stay in the UK, if there is reprocessing capacity and demand here.
Residents have been asked put rubbish and recycling out by 6am until further notice to help SWP and contractor SUEZ deal with hot weather and other factors.
Success despite driver shortage
Recycle More expanded weekly recycling collections have only just started in South Somerset, yet already look set to repeat if not beat their Mendip success of 100 tonnes a week extra recycling. This despite disruption from the UK-wide LGV driver shortage that is even more acute in Somerset. SWP and SUEZ are working hard to get services back on track but there are no quick fixes and more delays are likely as recruitment work continues.
SWP’s governing body has two members from each partner council:
Mendip Cllrs Joshua Burr, Tom Ronan; Sedgemoor Cllrs Andrew Gilling, Janet Keen; Somerset County Cllrs David Hall, Clare Paul (Vice Chair); Somerset West and Taunton Cllrs David Mansell, Andrew Sully; South Somerset Cllrs Sarah Dyke (Chair), Tim Kerley.
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