A campaign to encourage more recycling of food waste by 115,000 households in Somerset has proved a major success.
Based on earlier trials in Street and Wellington, food waste recycling in Taunton Deane, Sedgemoor and the Chard-Ilminster area of South Somerset jumped 20%.
If that rate is maintained, an annual extra 1,570 tonnes of food will be recycled, saving Somerset council tax payers £51,000 every year.
All food waste in Somerset is transformed into electricity and agricultural compost for local farmers at an anaerobic digestion plant near Bridgwater.
The campaign had three simple elements: a “no food waste” reminder sticker on refuse bins, an advice leaflet, and a one-off short supply of free compostable liners for food waste containers.
The advice leaflet emphasises that all food can be recycled, whether raw, cooked or mouldy, from fruit and veg to meat and fish, bread to bones and cheese to cereals.
The successful campaign built on smaller trials in Street and Wellington that showed the positive impact of the reminder sticker in changing behaviour.
The campaign results will feed into the far wider discussions by Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) about the future of recycling and refuse services in the county from 2016/17.
And plans are being made to extend elements of the campaign throughout Somerset in coming months.
The results were praised by SWP managing director Steve Read: “This is a great result thanks to impressive efforts by families to waste less, recycle more and save cash.
“While we are keen that people waste less food, and compost what they can, any and all remaining food waste must avoid the rubbish bin and be recycled. Let’s keep at it.”
As well as saving money, recycling food avoids it decaying for decades in landfill and giving off the potent greenhouse gas methane that contributes to climate change.
Residents can use newspapers to wrap food waste or line kitchen caddies, or buy compostable liners from local shops, which are listed at: www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/collections/food/liners.