Nearly half the content of the average Somerset bin could have been recycled, Somerset Council can reveal.

The 48% figure found this year is an impressive 11% decrease on 2018 – the last time the ‘composition analysis’ was carried out in the county. But there is still much more to do, especially when it comes to food waste.

And as national Recycling Week begins, Somerset Council are asking residents to think twice before throwing something in the bin.

The contents of some 550 households refuse bins were painstakingly emptied, sorted and weighed, with a representation from across the county.

Of the 48% of contents that should have been recycled:

·       14% recyclable at the kerbside (e.g. cardboard or drinks cans)

·       21% food waste, recyclable in the food waste bin

·       7% garden waste and pet bedding

·       7% recyclable at a recycling site (e.g. wood and metal)

The 11% reduction on 2018 figure is thought to have been driven by the expanded Recycle More collections, with less plastic pots tubs and trays being put in the refuse.

Residents have also reduced the amount of food that’s being thrown in the bin, with a 5% drop since 2018.

The results are shared as national Recycling Week begins. This year’s theme – The Big Recycling Hunt – focuses on “missed capture”: the items that can be recycled but are commonly missed in the home.

Cllr Dixie Darch, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Climate, and the Environment, said:

Most people in Somerset are recycling and we know that people are recycling more than they ever have. Our kerbside collections mean that most of our waste can be recycled from home.

We’re making good progress but there is always more we can do, particularly when it comes to recycling – or even better – reducing food waste.

We continue to look at ways to expand this and are part of a nationally funded trial to collect flexible plastics.

The Council surveys what is in our bins every five years to help understand what is being thrown out and how it can be made it easier to reduce waste and recycle more.

Somerset’s highest ever recycling rate was recently published as part of our Recycling Tracker, which shows what happens to every tonne of collected recycling. The 2022-23 figures show that 96.6% stayed in the UK to be turned into new products and packaging.

What's in the bin at home leaflet

About this article

October 30, 2023

Isabella Cole

Press Release