Food waste makes up a significant proportion of all Somerset household waste.
Reducing food waste is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as saving you money.
Analysis in 2018 showed that around 26% of the contents of the average Somerset refuse bin (by weight) was food waste.
Of the 22,194 tonnes in refuse bins, 36% (7,920 tonnes) could have been eaten and 36% (7,885 tonnes) was thrown away still in its packaging. The remaining 28% was food that would not normally be eaten.
It is estimated that the average UK household could save £14 per week, or £728 per year, by reducing food waste.
There are some great online resources for reducing food waste:
Some food waste is inevitable, such as egg shells, banana skins and tea bags. Home composting makes the most of such “waste” to benefit our gardens.
Most Somerset residents have a kerbside food collection service that takes all food to process it into energy and a soil improver.
Some simple steps for reducing food waste
Stocktake and meal plan
Know what food you have and what needs eating first. Then make a meal plan for a week or fortnight so you stay within your budget and can batch cook, use up all ingredients close to their use-by dates.
Make a shopping list
Based on the meal plan and kitchen stocktake, and stick to it, avoiding impulse buys or shopping when hungry.
Cook from scratch
To make full use of all ingredients, use fruit and veg ‘from root to tip’ where possible, scrubbing instead of peeling or using up the peelings for other meals or to make stock for soups or stews.
Make the most of leftovers
There are all sorts of creative recipes to make use of leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste offer some great examples.
Making the most of your fridge and freezer to extend the shelf-life of your food at home. Fridges need space for cold air to circulate around their contents and should be set at 0-5C (many are too hot so food goes off faster); freezers should be -18C. Defrost frozen foods in the fridge.
Batch cooking and freezing can reduce waste, as can freezing any unexpected leftovers.
Freeze more foods
It’s not just the usual ice cream and frozen peas that can be frozen, many foods can be saved for later in the freezer, including:
- Bread– use from frozen as toast or make sandwiches for work – by lunchtime they will be defrosted.
- Eggs– beat into a mixture or freeze whites and yolks separately. Defrost in the fridge. Add salt (for savoury) or sugar (for sweet) to stop yolks going lumpy.
- Milk– freeze as soon as possible and thaw in the fridge. Plastic containers are okay for freezing milk in, but the milk will expand, so pour out a small amount to allow for this.
- Cheese– try grating hard cheeses before freezing and use as toppings on pizza or shepherd’s pie from frozen. Stilton can be frozen without grating.
- Fruit– slice and freeze lemons then use them straight from the freezer in iced drinks.
- Cooked meat– such as chicken or turkey. Thaw in the fridge and use as normal, in casseroles, curries and stews.
- Potatoes– parboil and freeze them for later, thaw and roast. Mashed potato freezes well. Remember to portion before freezing.
- Yoghurt– pots can be placed straight in the freezer but the yoghurt will expand, so make sure there’s enough space in the pot for this. Defrost and use in smoothies or straight from frozen.
If you’re feeling festive and planning for Christmas then we’ve pulled together all you need to know this Christmas-time.
As usual, your refuse and recycling dates will change during the Christmas and New Years weeks. There will be no collections on Monday 25 December, Tuesday 26 December, or Monday 1 January.
|Usual collection day:||Revised Collection day|
|Monday 25 December 2023||Wednesday 27 December 2023|
|Tuesday 26 December 2023||Thursday 28 December 2023|
|Wednesday 27 December 2023||Friday 29 December 2023|
|Thursday 28 December 2023||Saturday 30 December 2023|
|Friday 29 December 2023||Sunday 31 December 2023|
|Monday 1 January 2024||Tuesday 2 January 2024|
|Tuesday 2 January 2024||Wednesday 3 January 2024|
|Wednesday 3 January 2024||Thursday 4 January 2024|
|Thursday 4 January 2024||Friday 5 January 2024|
|Friday 5 January 2024||Saturday 6 January 2024|
Garden waste collections will stop on Monday 25 December for a fortnight and will resume on Monday 8 January.
Manage your festive waste
Make a meal of planning
Somerset is recycling more food waste than ever. Good news, but it would be even better if we cut out waste altogether.
Meal planning for the festive period means you buy only what you need and eat all you buy. Planning ahead can also help to keep costs down.
Simple steps can help prevent extra waste:
- Take stock of what you’ve got in the cupboards and the freezer before you head to the shops.
- Avoid the temptation to buy too much “just in case” and waste it. Most shops are open for much of holiday.
- Plan your meals and buy only what you need.
- If you like to have a little bit extra at the table, plan this into your meals following the ‘big day’.
- Batch cook extra meals and store in the freezer, especially useful if guests stay longer than planned.
- Head to Love food Hate Waste for more ideas and or search their recipes by food type to use up anything in particular you may have.
- Make the most of your leftovers by being creative in the kitchen and having store cupboard staples like rice and pasta on hand to turn leftovers into substantial meals.
If you really cannot make use of leftovers, put them in your food waste bin. All food can be recycled – raw, cooked, fresh, “off”, bread to bones, including your turkey carcass – plus paper kitchen towel.
Solid fats can go in your food waste bin, but liquid oils should be recycled at any recycle site.
If you are not sure how to dispose of a real Christmas tree, you can:
- Compost at home, if you can
- Garden waste subscribers: leave your tree, decoration-free, next to your garden waste bin for collection – as long as it is no taller than 6ft. Collections restart on Monday 8 January. Trees taller than 6ft will not be collected, as they are too large for collection crews to handle.
- If your tree is larger than 6ft, or if you are not a garden waste subscriber, you will need to take it to the recycling site, where trees can go in the garden waste skip.
- Trees with a trunk wider than 6 inches cannot be collected or taken to recycle sites.
Charity tree collections
For a donation, there are now Somerset charity Christmas tree collections covering much of the county:
- Dorothy House (information will be online from 15 November) and their volunteers will be collecting trees in the following postcodes:
BA1, BA2, BA3, BA4, BA11, BA12, BA13, BA14, BA15, SN11, SN12, SN13, SN14, SN15, SN16 and BS31. The deadline for registering trees is midnight on Sunday 7 January 2024.
- St Margaret’s Hospice – check online for details soon.
Foil, plastic or glittery wrapping paper cannot be recycled and has to go into your rubbish. Any paper wrapping you cannot reuse, remove sticky tape, bows and decorations – save bows, ribbons, string for birthday gifts – and put it with card in your black recycle box. Do not use a black rubbish sack to put out any wrapping paper you want recycled.
If you’re not sure if it’s recyclable, try the scrunch test:
Step 1: Scrunch the wrapping paper into a tight ball.
Step 2: Open your hand to see if the paper stays scrunched together or bounces back open.
Step 3: If the paper stays scrunched in a ball, then you know it can be recycled. If it bounces back open then it likely contain foil or plastic and it can’t be recycled.
If you have a large load of wrapping paper, take it to any recycling site. Each will have a special drop-off point for wrapping paper; do not put it in the skips for card.
Tubs and tins of biscuits and chocolates
Empty chocolate and biscuit tubs and tins can be reused as storage or for freezing foods, or you can recycle them all. Plastic tubs can be dropped off in the skip for plastic pots, tubs, trays and bottles at any recycle site or added to your kerbside Bright Blue Bag. Metal tins, add to your Bright Blue Bag or drop off at any recycle site.
Tubes of Pringles and similar
Pringles cannot be taken in recycling collections, tubes from crips should be added to your general refuse.
Foil from mince pies
Scrunch them together and add to your Bright Blue Bag.
Cards and crackers
This year’s Christmas cards can become next year’s gift tags. If you need to recycle them, use your black recycle box, but remove glitter and ribbons etc first. Cards can also be taken to any recycle site. For cardboard Christmas crackers, remove glitter, ribbons and other decorations, and add to your black recycle box.
These count as small electrical items. You can leave them in an untied bag alongside your recycle boxes and Bright Blue Bag. Or take them to any recycle site.
Could they be fixed? Why not take them to your local volunteer repair group, they may just be able to make them glow-on for another year.
Once empty, recycle them kerbside in a small, tied – ideally clear – bag, or drop them off at any recycle site.
Make the most of Recycling Sites
Our 16 sites across the county will be open their usual winter hours throughout the festive period (except, as usual, all closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day).
Visiting a recycling site is the best way to get rid of large quantities of any materials, especially when public holidays or severe weather disrupt the usual recycling and rubbish collections.