Monday, 27 June 2011

Recycle Week round up & Cybermummy!

Blimmin' 'eck, I've hardly had chance to stop for a cup of tea since Recycle Week began last week. I've been too busy hanging around with 'Shedwyn' our mascot for the Stand up for Recycling out on the Street Campaign and 1000 bin challenge, which I launched in conjunction with My Zero Waste only last Monday.

For those who are new to the challenge, the mission is to collect 1000 photos and videos of on-street recycling bins, the aim of which is to raise awareness of "recycling-on-the-go" facilities.  It's a totally independent social-media campaign, which although supported by WRAP's Recycle Now team, is simply a bloggers' grassroots initiative to inject some fun into the subject of recycling.

But crikey, what an amazing week it's been, with photos coming into our Facebook page  from as far as Greece and Shedwyn impersonators coming out of the woodwork from all sorts of unexpected corners.

It started with a gaggle of Shedwyn imposters popping up at a recycling bin in Bury St Edmunds ready for Monday's launch.

I don't think it was that difficult for folk to spot the real Shedwyn from the line up of imposters that included a very busy mum, a local soap maker, a borough councillor, a wildlife volunteer and a children's clothes shop owner.  To see who the Real Shedwyn is, you'll find there's a huge clue on the new website, which was also launched on Monday.

Monday was brilliant. Not only did the Facebook page reach over 100 followers, but photos started to come in too.  What really made it though was the announcement by Suffolk's comedy club "the Chortle Factory" on BBC Radio Suffolk that they were getting behind the campaign and planning all sorts of frivolity for pop up entertainment at local recycling bins as well as comedy litter picks.

Next, came confirmation from a whole range of performers including Abi Roberts, Doug Segal and Checkley Bush, as well as Crouch End's new comedy club Boom-Tish!, that they would all be doing something over the summer at an adopted recycling bin.

But it's not just comedians, singers and entertainers who are getting involved.  News in at the end of last week was that talented artist Penny Lindop would be getting her sketchpad out at a recycling bin and submitting her entry of support too.

And throughout the week, Shedwyn popped up in all sorts of places, including:

A random waterside recycling bin in Ely (and it is random, especially as it is the only one):

An eco-club visit to Abbots Green Community Primary School in Suffolk

On a train to London

And of course the Cybermummy conference in London, where she mingled with some fabulous bloggers, including the gorgeous Clare from The Babbling Mummy.

and the amazing Melinda from Her Melness Speaks....Out!

And look who else she bumped into...

...none other than Michael Douglas, the One Show's very own Street Barber...who just wanted to get on record that he's not actually responsible for Shedwyn's barnet, but he did let on that he's got up to some recycling shenanigans of his own in recent years.  Shedwyn's on a promise to get a link to one of his videos for the 1000 bins campaign and I can tell you now, she's very excited at that news indeed.  Look at her.  Bless her. She just can't contain herself!

Then it was down to business and the hunt for recycling bins at Cybermummy's conference venue (The Brewery in London), which was kindly modelled by the most wonderful Surprised Zoe.  Of course, she's not always surprised,. but that's how I've come to know her.

And last but not least, the event just wouldn't have been the same without a truckload of Shedwyn imposters popping up at the after-show party.  And here's a fabulous line-up of the suspicious characters, but I'm not going to reveal who they are.  That would spoil the fun!  I'm going to leave it to my blogging pals to guess and see if they can spot themselves too.

So...Cybermummy's over to you........a dozen imposters to make your minds boggle.

  1. I think this Cybermummy Shedwyn was startled by the flash

2. And this Cybermummy let her hair down in style

 3. This Shedwyn imposter just knows the glass of wine will give her away.

4. This CyberShedwyn hangs around more bins than she might reveal.

 5. This Shedwyn is dreaming of her next blogpost.

  6. While this Shedwyn imposter doesn't blog at all. Could she be an imposter in more ways than one?

  7. This disguise is good baby!

 8.A bearded Shedwyn. Whatever next!

  9.  Yeah baby. Work it Shedywn number 9!

10. And check out this rock chick!

11. Glam rocks! But there was no funny business in this Shedwyn's powder room.

12. And this Shedwyn is so hot, she's simply "smokin'"

It was a great day hanging out with so many Shedwyns at the Cybermummy party and my only regret was that I had to leave early to catch the train home.  However, I did catch a few extra Recycle Week snaps to add to the 1000 bins Facebook page.

And yesterday, a fitting end to Recycle Week, The Rubbish Diet got a mention in  The Independent on Sunday's Cybermummy feature.  I caught up with the article whilst on a family excursion to Southwold.  I did notice that I'd been re-christened as Kate.

Oh well, I'm sure there's a touch of royalty in the sentiment and Kate is rather fashionable, just like "recycling-on-the-go"

So I kept the feature and when the rest of the newspaper was finished, I popped it into the "newish" recycling bin on The Green
A fitting end to a fun-packed Recycle Week. 
For more information about what else I got up to at this year's Cybermummy, check out my post over on my other blog...Anything but rubbish.  It's the place where I ramble about things away from the bin.

Although Recycle Week is over, this is only the very beginning for the 1000 bins challenge, which runs right up to the end of Zero Waste Week on the 11 September.  It would be great if you could join in and encourage your friends to submit photos as well as entertaining videos.  There will even be a competition too, details of which will be announced at at the end of July.

For details of how you can participate, please vist
In the meantime, I am sure the CyberShedwyns (who were such great sports) will reveal themselves very soon.

Monday, 13 June 2011

RECYCLE ON THE GO with Shedwyn and friends

WELL WELL WELL.  I'm still getting over the shock of being outed recently by The Observer's very lovely Lucy Siegle who just so happened to reveal to the nation, my peculiar habit of embarrassing the kids by taking photos of municipal trash cans.   Yes I know....!

But I admit it.  Indeed I really do have a sad collection of bin photos, recycling ones in particular, taken whilst out shopping and on holiday, both in the UK and overseas, Well it IS research you know!  In fact this is the blogpost that initially grabbed the attention, taken on a day-trip to Barry Island in South Wales, the spiritual home of sitcom Gavin & Stacey.

Now I don't think I'm the only one to notice how these hight street recycling bins are starting to pop up in all manner of places in the UK.  And I bet I'm not the only one to have taken photos of them either (although most people will only have included them unknowingly in the background). But if you start looking, you'll find them in many high streets and tourist hotspots around the country, and they're proving to be a very valuable tool in helping the UK reduce the amount of plastic, aluminium and paper that's sent to landfill or incineration.

They come in all shapes and sizes too.  Take the one above for instance, which was snapped at Brussels' Eurostar terminal.  It even looks like a giant shape-sorter.   Of course there are plenty more inconspicuous ones that often get overlooked, which is why Rachelle Strauss at My Zero Waste and I are launching a challenge to promote these very useful facilities and find out exactly where they are.

So the challenge ladies and gentlemen, is TO COLLECT 1000 PHOTOS or VIDEOS by the end of this year's National Zero Waste Week, which takes place on 5-11 September.

Yes 1000!  I know!!!

That's more than this busy mother of two can manage, which is why we've employed the talents of our bespectacled pal SHEDWYN, who's as mad as brush and will be popping up in all sorts of places around the country taking photos.  Here she is....getting prepared for some hard and fast recycling action on the streets of London, either that or trying to flag down a taxi with an empty drinks bottle and a copy of The Metro.

But good grief, WHERE did she get those glasses!!!  Oh bless her.

Anyway, Shedwyn's other mission is to make recycling bins as entertaining as possible and she'll even be encouraging the odd comedian or busker to strut their stuff as they recycle on the go.

But even this Welsh Wonderwoman can't do this without any help either.  She needs YOUR help and WE'D LOVE YOU TO JOIN IN TOO.  It's really easy.  We simply need you to 'snap & post' a few photos, that's all.

Whenever you spot a public high-street recycling bin, it would be great if you could take a quick photo and post it onto our NEW FACEBOOK PAGE!   The funnier or more unusual, the better.  You could put yourself in the frame too, or even send an entertaining video to show off your hidden (or not so hidden) talents. They'll also be entered into our photo collection as well as any sketches or artwork submitted by artists.  To add them directly, you just need to 'like' the new Facebook page and upload them straight to the page's wall, which you will find at: Standup for Recycling out on the street: The 1000 bin challenge.

Just remember to include the town and location of where you found the bin.  It would be brilliant to get submissions of overseas bins too, especially if they offer extra design features, such as voice-activation or play music.

Even if you don't have a Facebook account, you can still join in by sending your submissions to: and we will post them online for you.

All submissions added will be automatically entered into the Zero Waste Week annual competition, details of which will be announced at at the end of July.  The final deadline for the challenge is 11 September and all winners will be revealed at the end of September.

Our 1000 bin challenge is an independent social-media campaign, coordinated by The Rubbish Diet blog and My Zero Waste.  It is officially being launched on Monday 20th June to show our support for WRAP's Recycle Week 2011 campaign, which itself runs until 26th June.

And this year's Recycle Week looks like it's going to be a real brilliant one.  The theme is Recycling - Home and Away and aims to demonstrate the positive effect of recycling a little bit more, whether at home, at work or out-and-about. There's even a competition to guess the location of  some on-street recycling bins at the Recycle Now website.  I reckon old Shedwyn will be able to have a good crack at that, given the way she gets around!

The other big news this year is that anti-litter organisation Keep Britain Tidy is also partnering with WRAP and has been working with pilot authorities to launch this year's Recycle Week, encouraging organisers of Big Tidy Up events to recycle litter.  More information about Recycle Week and how you can get involved is now available at and

So what are you waiting for?  There's lots going on and I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll get up to.  Whatever it is, just remember to keep it clean...AND remember to take your camera.

1000 photos eh.....whoa...this will definitely be a challenge and a half, especially as we'll only have just 12 weeks.   It's time for Shedwyn and her mates to get snapping.


Saturday, 11 June 2011

WEETF: debating the future of UK waste policy

Two days ago I was privileged to attend the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum's (WEETF) keynote seminar: The future of UK Waste Policy.

OK, I admit that it might not sound the most rivetting of days out for many, but for a blogging waste geek like me, it was a real opportunity to witness first hand the priorities of those who have a direct influence on the way in which the UK will protect the world's natural and material resources.

The Forum, which runs conferences and seminars in London aims to provide the "premier environment" for policy makers in Parliament, Whitehall and government agencies to engage with key stakeholders.

And indeed it was a seminar that brought together an impressive range of representatives from many relating sectors.  These included academia, government, retail, local authorities, waste management companies, anaerobic digestion specialists, waste reduction consultants, the energy from waste sector and anti-incineration networks.  It was probably the most widespread range of interested parties and stakeholders that I've ever witnessed in one room, since I started The Rubbish Diet blog three years ago.  There was also representation from emerging market investors amongst the delegate list.  Now that's a sector I don't come across every day.

Chaired in turn by Barry Gardiner MP (Member, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee) and Lord Redesdale, Chairman, (Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Assocation), the event presented a plethora of professional opinion addressing topics that included The UK's record on waste management, delivering a zero waste economy by 2014, comparing waste policies in England and Scotland, the role of energy recovery in the future of waste management and the view from Wrap.

It was quickly acknowledged by industry expert Paul Levett, that the most useful tool in reducing waste has been the Landfill Tax, the impact of which will continue to have a positive effect as it rises towards £80 per tonne in 2014.  Paul Levett also stated that private investment had been successful in the municpal sector, but as municipal waste represented one third of the country's arisings, investment was also needed in other sectors too.  What particularly stood out for me was his view that waste should stop being a political issue and draw a cross-party consensus.  Frankly, I couldn't agree more, especially as many of the goal-scoring antics amongst political egos are often more effective at delaying the essential than moving as quickly as we should towards necessary solutions.

Although unable to provide actual detail of Defra's Waste Review, which won't be published until later this month,  Neil Thornton Defra's Director of Climate, Waste and Atmosphere (cool job title, by the way) highlighted the key drivers for the waste review, which included:

  • The new government & new economic backdrop, including localism and Big Society policies
  • The coalition programme and Defra's revised business plan
  • The need to agree goals for 2014-20, setting the path towards a zero waste economy
  • Exploring voluntary responsibility deals amongst businesses and Climate Change Act powers for household charging
  • Promotiing increased Energy from Waste through anaerobic digestion.

While Neil Thornton highlighted that there are now 173 local authorities collecting five or more dry recyclables at the kerbside (helping to reduce the average annual residual waste per person by 76kg since 2006/07), he also stated that a key tool in waste reduction will be the introduction of the Waste Hierarchy as a legal obligation in the UK.  This means that the new Waste (England & Wales) Regulations 2011 (effective from September) will put a legal obligation on businesses and local authorities to place Waste Prevention Plans as a priority in their operations.  This will affect businesses that produce waste, import or export waste, carry or transport waste, keep or store waste, treat waste, dispose of waste and those that operate as waste brokers or dealers.

It is expected that waste policy changes will also see
  • a move towards a zero waste economy
  • a more sustainable use of materials, 
  • improving services to businesses and households
  • more voluntary approaches, 
  • better targeted systems for enforcement
  • a smaller\different role for central government, putting more decisions into the hands of local communities and civil society
  • waste management becoming a very important part of the green economy.
Simon Aumônier, waste life cycle expert and partner at Environmental Resources Management  emphasised that waste prevention must be a top priority for future policy, highlighting the embodied impact (i.e. Raw materials, transport and production) of products and produce that are wasted.  The significance of this issue was later reinforced by Richard Swannell of Wrap, who illustrated the point with an example of the humble burger, stating that 2,400 litres of embedded water is required for just one 150 gram beefburger.  Working with WWF, Wrap has also calculated that food waste amounts to 6,200 billion litres of embedded water per year and clothing waste comes in at 2,400 billion litres.

This theme of Waste Prevention was echoed by Bob Gordon, Head of Environment at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), who highlighted how the brands and retailers that signed up to the Courtauld Commitment have in 5 years prevented 1.2 million tonnes of food and packaging waste and are continuing to make further reductions.  Commenting on pressures facing local authorities from certain public and political quarters to return to weekly rubbish collections he stated that this would be at odds with what the government is trying to achieve.

From a Zero Waste perspective, it was refreshing to hear Claudia Kuss-Tenzer, Research and Policy Programme Manager at Waste Watch, highlight that Zero Waste policies should be defined as Zero Waste and not "Zero Waste to Landfill".  She also called on government to support the Friends of the Earth ambitions to cut residual waste by 50% by 2020.

One of this year's most surprising and exciting developments to hit the waste and recycling sector was also introduced at the seminar, by Roy Brown, CEO of nappy recycling company Knowaste. With over 20 years experience in Canada, the company is launching the UK's first specialist recycling facility for absorbant hygiene waste, which includes disposable nappies, adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products, using state-of-the-art technology to create quality plastics and fibres.

Its first UK plant will be completed in West Bromwich this summer, with facilities to recycle 36 tonnes of absorbent hygiene products per annum. The plastics output will be used for products such as roof tiles, seed trays and "plastic timber" for the landscaping and construction industries, whereas the fibres can be reclaimed for green energy fuel or sterilised and recycled for use in corrugated board, blow moulded packaging (replacing polystyrene packaging), seeding mulch and as fillers in the construction industries.

Knowaste contracts will initially be through the commercial sector but the company also has plans to target the residential sector too, with solutions to recycle 750 tonnes of waste that's generated through municipal waste per year.   Roy Brown stated that they had been attracted to the UK by drivers such as the Landfill Tax and the move towards a Zero Waste economy.  Announcements about new plants that the company plans to roll out across the UK will be made at the RWM exhibition in September.

While the government is aiming for 50% recycling targets for 2020 in England, Zero Waste Scotland, represented by Iain Gulland has its sights on 75% by 2025.  The organisation provides a range of support programmes, campaigns and other interventions to help people and organisations on the journey to Zero Waste and is promoting resource efficiency as a key theme with benefits of creating a low carbon economy, better economic performance and material security. Alongside this it is also calling for more producer responsibility.

The seminar continued with the role of energy recovery technologies, including much debate around anaerobic digestion (AD), gasification of dry waste and EfW plants, with representation from Hayley Conboy, Policy Adviser for Environment at the CBI, who highlighted the importance of recovery technologies to the waste landscape. 

Michael Chesshire (Technology Director at BiogenGreenfinch) who was introduced by Lord Redesdale as the "Godfather of AD",  detailed how processing food waste through such technology not only is a vital process for creating biofertilers and biomethane energy, but this waste stream is also proving to be very effective in reducing waste arisings.  He also commented on how anaerobic digestion is very scalable and that food waste plants can offer a combined use for farm slurries and crop waste, highlighting the benefits for farmers.

Professor Jim Swithenbank, Chairman, Sheffield University Waste Incineration Centre, presented the role of thermal technologies in using non recyclable waste residues to "mitigate UK energy poverty and climate change" and called for the government to place a priority on district heating and combined heat and power (CHP).  He stated that one tonne of waste was equal to one barrel of oil.

Jane Green, of the Zero Waste Alliance UK, added a word of caution for local authorities going down the incinerator\energy from waste route and that was concern for the impact on levels of sorted recyclates and confliction with the waste prevention message.

Having been catapulted into the waste scene three years ago, when waste was most definitely considered a very negative problem, there is an air about the sector that has transformed the landscape into one of great opportunity. Listening to talk of resource efficiency, economic development and green technologies depicted a scene of hope, underpinned by legislation that is taking this issue very seriously indeed.

This was reinforced by Lord Resedale's closing comments, highlighting that politicians are now taking a real interest in waste and that is going to the key issue of the next five years, having moved significantly up the agenda.  He also added that energy prices are going up 20% this year and from now we will see a close connection between the areas of waste, energy prices and resource management.

It will no doubt be a sector rife with commercial opportunities as pre-existing and emerging players ptich for new opportunities and fight for survival over the next few decades.  I just now hope that the solutions that shine through will be those that are best for the environment, the economy AND our societies and that the voice of local communities will play a key role in the future of waste.

This blogpost serves only as a summary of Thursday's seminar.  For full details, transcripts, along with delegate lists and speaker biographies can be ordered from the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum.

Other publications to look out for through June are Wrap's new business plan, which will be published on Tuesday and the long awaited Waste Review, which will be published by Defra soon after.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin