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Recycling levels soar to 51% in Torridge thanks to resident recyclers

Plastic Waste

In June 2018 Torridge District Council embarked on a major change to its waste and recycling collections with the introduction of fortnightly black bag collections. At the same time the Council extended and improved kerbside recycling collections, including food waste from all households, and the extension of an optional green garden waste collection service made available to all properties for the first time.

A year on and the figures speak for themselves with recycling rates in the district soaring to 51% from the 41% achieved previously. The Councils figures show that around 3,600 tonnes of black bag waste has been diverted from landfill which equates to around 360 lorry loads that are now being recycled and the same reduction in lorry movements that those trips would normally entail.

Residents have also helped in being prepared to sort their recycling prior to collection, which has allowed the Council to operate more efficiently on rounds and to keep the cost of collection down from the 2.5 million household collections and 8 million receptacles emptied each year. People's efforts have also contributed to the high quality of materials collected with low levels of contamination. Demand for this type of "cleaner" waste is high and as a result the Council have been able to work exclusively with UK companies meaning the material has less far to travel before it is reused and reprocessed. Aluminium to new cans, cardboard to cartons, plastic pots trays and bottles to garden furniture, wheelie bins, food packaging and plastic milk bottles are just a few examples of how this waste has been reused.

Councillor Chris Leather - Lead Member for Waste said:

"Many people will forget that back in 2018 we were one of the last Councils to move to a fortnightly black bag collection in the Country. At the time, and maybe even now, this was opposed by some in our community. However while the costs of maintaining a weekly collection was a factor in our decision making our main goal, to encourage more recycling and less waste ending up in land-fill, was absolutely the right thing to do for the environment and for future generations.

In real terms the jump in recycling represents an amazing 25% improvement from where we were just a year ago with an emphatic reverse in the decline we were previously seeing year on year. This would not have been possible without people embracing the new service and it is perhaps no coincidence that this is now also being championed by our younger generations concerned about plastic pollution and climate change.

We can still do more, and our focus will now be on areas of the district where participation has been harder to improve. We will also look to find ways to introduce further materials that we can collect. But in the meantime I would like to thank all of our residents who have participated in this success and try to encourage others to take up the challenge and reduce our landfill figures even further from the 2 million bags we still bury in the ground each year."

Food Waste and Garden Waste is processed locally as below. Much of the remainder is sorted locally e.g. Exeter and then recycled as follows:

Food Waste: Holsworthy and is turned into fertiliser and fuel gas.

Garden Waste: Open windrow compost site where it is turned into high quality compost.

Paper: Norfolk where it is recycled into both regional and national newspapers.

Cardboard: Kent recycled into carton manufacturing.

Aluminium: Cheshire - melted down into aluminium ingots which are used to manufacture new cans.

Steel Cans: Wales where they are recycled into new steel products.

Plastic pots:Leeds where it is used to manufacture large plastic items such as: garden furniture, plastic pallets and wheelie bins.

'Tough and squeezy' Plastic - Essex - recycled and reused to make plastic milk bo­ttles.

Plastic drink bo­ttles: Lincolnshire - where it is recycled into plastic pellets used to produce food grade packaging.

11 June 2019