Waste trials move on to ‘thin film’ plastic

A new waste trial has been underway to see whether Somerset might be able to recycle “thin film” plastic in future.

A few hundred households in Taunton Deane were included in this six-week test, funded by the government-backed recycling charity WRAP. No other homes were involved.

The thin film collected with kerbside recycling included the plastic used for carrier bags, multipacks of food or toilet rolls, bread or cereal bags, frozen foods, or to protect dry cleaning.

Trial homes were asked to ensure all thin plastics were clean, empty and uncontaminated by food or anything else. The trial came with a reminder: “If in doubt, leave it out!”

It was the latest trial of materials, containers and frequencies to explore options for sustainable, practical and cost-effective future waste services for Somerset.

Thin film is both a significant contributor to rubbish sent for landfill burial in Somerset, and can be a bulky item taking up plenty of space.

All the trials have taken place in the context of continued pressure both to boost recycling, which has strong environmental and economic benefits, and to cut council spending on waste.

Somerset’s recycling rate is 52%, with each household producing close to a tonne of refuse and recycling.

Past trials with a wider range of recycling materials and less frequent collections of the remaining lower levels of rubbish have attracted support from 85% of those involved.