Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Suffolk to become a Zero Waste Place

On-street recycling bin in Ipswich, Suffolk.

Things are most definitely hotting up in the UK, with Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for the Environment today announcing plans to turn Britain into a "Zero Waste Nation", expecting all local authorities to offer comprehensive collection services by 2020.

Included in his strategy is a ban on recyclable materials from landfill and schemes to encourage better recycling, including the generation of energy from collected food waste. As well as municipal waste, there are also plans to reduce commercial and industrial waste, working with businesses and the waste management industry to encourage innovative practices.

This is great news in itself, but what excites me more in a "Football's coming home" kind of way, is that my local county of Suffolk, in the East of England, has been chosen as one of six new Zero Waste places to trial what many are calling the government's tough new recycling policy.

Representing the Suffolk Waste Partnership, Councillor Roy Barker, has this evening been quoted in the local press, saying he is delighted that Suffolk is at the forefront of this innovative scheme.

And I can certainly share his enthusiasm, especially as it has been confirmed that Suffolk residents are already among the best recyclers in the country, with half of our waste being diverted from landfill.

So where can Suffolk go next in its Zero Waste plans?

Well, the exciting news is the announcement of the "Suffolk Seven Streets" project, which has been awarded a £10,000 grant from DEFRA, challenging local households to reduce their rubbish even further, indeed by half.

One street in each of the seven Suffolk local authority districts will be selected to test a new recycling regime. And with the support of council recycling teams, businesses and residents will be encouraged to see who can reduce their rubbish the most.

Further news will be available over the next few months as the local scheme takes shape and I can't wait to report on what's happening in and around the county.

But dare I say, as well as encouraging others, the competitive streak is now rising within me and I am already dancing around in glee flying my own virtual flag for St Edmundsbury. I'm now wondering if I can volunteer my own street and survey our local residents to see if they want to fly the flag with me. I think I might just ring the council and see if we're eligible.

But then again, the thought of knocking on strangers' doors makes me feel like the BBC's choirmaster Gareth Malone trying to create a brand-new community choir in South Oxhey.

I suppose I could always don an England football shirt, and merrily sing "Recycling's coming home" when they answer. Or should it be an Ipswich Town shirt I wonder.

One thing's for sure, if the "Suffolk Seven Streets" project gets as competitive as the local football leagues, just imagine the results.

I won't run ahead of myself quite yet. All I can say is well done to Suffolk County Council and the Suffolk Waste Partnership. Congratulations on taking the lead. When it comes to Zero Waste projects, this is going to be very exciting indeed.



mrs green said...

Great news Mrs A - you must be really excited to have Suffolk on the map as one of the places in the UK turning zero waste.

I feel a house move coming on LOL!

Emma said...

Woo hoo! I always find it really annoying when I'm out and about that most places in the UK don't have on-street recycling bins. Other countries (like Canada) manage it, so why can't we? It's hard to persuade people to take their rubbish home with them, let alone take their recycling home when they're passing a perfectly good rubbish bin....

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

Great to see Suffolk taking a lead in the Zero Waste trend. You can be part of the process which can set other UK locations a challenge to improve their activities.

Zero Waste could become a mainstream activity with naysayers increasingly marginalised. We need to be certain of practices to ensure that our concerns for unwanted waste outcomes are shared by everyone else.

Unknown said...

Great! The Secretary of State for the Environment chose Suffolk to start this inspiring challenge surely because there are people like you, who care of Zero Waste since a long time! I can say that you could be the real flag-bearer for your admirable County! :D
Hoping you'll be soon involved in this new adventure, I'll keep to support you with all my enthusiasm.
And I'm having my challenge too within two weeks! ;)

Karin said...

Well done Suffolk. I suspect Surrey may not be so keen, but perhaps I should be more optimistic.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Mrs G - yep, things are getting very exciting indeed. You could always come and visit and get involved in the antics. I bet we'd have a blast. Hang on a mo... why don't I hold a party and all my lovely friends on the blog could come and celebrate...Now there's an idea, anyone up for it? :-D

Hi Emma - Now I was very happy to see that recycling bin. I'm hoping we will get some soon in Bury St Edmunds too. You're right, it does help and the more that are on the streets the better. Bet it's a logistical nightmare though :-D

Hi John - It really is brilliant that Suffolk have won their bid for funding. It's a pity that initial response has already raised negative comments amongst some quarters. I think people are most fearful about being inconvenienced by extra bins. But that is not necessarily going to be the case. The LAs have definitely got a communications exercise on their hands, and I am confident of positive results :-D

Hi Danda - Thank you so much for your continued support. I'm feeling I should by now be making more of an effort in Italian, so forgive me :-D Anyway good luck with your own challenge. I'll be popping along to lend my support. :-D

Hi Karin - Go on...I dare you LOL. Give 'em a ring and suggest they put their own bid in next year :-D

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

The negative comments, and attitudes, are part of the process of change. We just have to grow the process, which will take time and effort.

An idea for improving the commingled collection might be for the householder to source-segregate the paper, metal, plastic and textiles (glass is collected separately). This could be for example paper/metal one fortnight, plastic/textiles the next.

Do you think it is practicable, from your family perspective?

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi John - sorry, meant to reply to you earlier today but had to dash off out into the big wide world. I can see the idea that you've posed about could possible work in some circumstances, but for us it wouldn't be great in practice.

Living in modern house that has no practical storage facilities, we would not have space to keep certain material such as plastics or paper etc for a whole month and would have to make more frequent visits to the recycling centre.

The other issue is the sheer weight of paper and the impact on refuse collectors. If wheelie bins were filled with a month's worth of paper, for some households that would mean quite a significant weight and bins that would be very heavy to pull, even from the kerbside. I never thought of this until some of the bin men I worked with earlier this year told me about some of the difficulties they experience. I know what they mean because on occasions my recycling bin has been pretty heavy. Ever since, I've made sure I'm careful of how much paper I put out when I'm having a clear out. :-D

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