Recycling tracker report

Our latest Recycling Tracker report shows Somerset’s continued great work and progress

Our latest Recycling Tracker report shows Somerset’s continued great work and progress.

Somerset Recycling Tracker 2021-22 infographic

The Tracker monitors every tonne of the county’s household waste to identify where it goes, the companies involved and its likely use as new packaging and products. Pioneered in 2008, Somerset was the first waste authority to publish this kind of annual, detailed breakdown.

The latest report, for financial year 2021-22, reflects Somerset’s residents’ support for recycling, and hard work by the staff of our collections contractor SUEZ and recycle sites operator Biffa.

Tracking every tonne of the waste Somerset creates shows that the reprocessing companies are legitimate and that no recycling is burned, dumped or ends up in the ocean. And it shows what kinds of products and packaging Somerset “waste” can become, from cardboard boxes to plastic pipes, soil conditioner to car parts.

Overall, in 2021-22, Somerset recycled and reused 149,980 tonnes with a recycling rate for the year of 56.2% – up from 52.4%. This saved the equivalent of 133,663 tonnes of carbon. We sent 108,428 tonnes of refuse to generate electricity through the Avonmouth energy-from-waste plant. Just 12,567 tonnes went to landfill.

Somerset Council and its contractors have a commitment that all materials collected for recycling will stay in the UK if there is reprocessing capacity and demand in this country.
Thus 97.2% of Somerset’s recycling was reprocessed first in the UK and 51.4% stayed in the county. Most of the 2.8% exported was card and paper going back to firms in Europe and Asia to make cardboard boxes for imports of white goods and electronics.

With plastic pots, tubs and trays added to kerbside collections, Somerset’s plastics performance shows the tonnage soaring from 4,359 tonnes 2020-21 to 5,771 tonnes, with 99.4% recycled here in the UK and the rest tracked to firms making new plastic bottles and other packaging.

Somerset’s impressive recycling rate puts it among the leading authorities for recycling, with plenty of potential for residents to raise that even further. It also makes Somerset one of the very best areas for carbon saving. That is all down to the kerbside sorting producing the kind of low-contamination, high-quality materials the market demands.

Of the 149,980 tonnes recycled or reused – electrical items to clothes, bottles to cans, cardboard to cartons, wood to metals – the largest single material is the 45,326 tonnes of garden waste composted in Somerset and turned into the Revive soil improver. Another hefty load is the 23,385 tonnes of food waste. This is transformed by the Somerset anaerobic digestion plant at Walpole near Bridgwater into electricity for homes and businesses, plus farm compost to help grow more food.

Heaviest of the “dry” materials is paper and card at 26,718 tonnes, which goes to make newsprint and yet more cardboard. The 18,602 tonnes of glass bottles and jars is one of only figures to show a slight decrease, unlike the increase in metals to 8,566 tonnes, which become anything from new cans to car parts. Also up – thanks again to the small electrical item and batteries collected with Recycle More – are electricals at 4,024 tonnes.

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Download the 2021-22 Recycling Tracker in full

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How materials are recycled

See the Find out how materials are recycled table at full width