We can all do more when it comes to recycling, says Paul Willis, Adur & Worthing Councils’ Waste Strategy Manager – Adur and Worthing Council Services (AWCS). Here he tells us how:
In this modern world, we’ve become used to generating waste and most of us take it for granted that it will be taken care of.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to live in the United States for a year. While I was there, I had to engage a waste company to remove my rubbish and recycling because this service wasn’t included in my property tax (the equivalent of our council tax).
The billing regime was quite interesting – any refuse I generated was charged for by the number of bags and visits made by the lorry. Recycling was free. Faced with this proposition, I quickly adopted new habits to try to ensure that I recycled as much as possible and threw away as little. It might have saved me some money at the time, but soon these habits were so ingrained that I still try to live my life this way.
It wasn’t that easy when I came back to the UK because recycling hadn’t quite taken off, but I was keen to make sure that services improved and I got a job at Worthing Borough Council to help drive this revolution.
Recycling is now so integral to our services that it’s difficult to imagine a time before it. When I first arrived, we had a recycling rate of just under 10 per cent and only about 15 per cent of households were taking part. Now our recycling rate is 35 per cent and almost everyone takes part.
Yet the job isn’t done because, although almost everyone recycles something, between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of perfectly good recycling is still being put in the wrong bin. The amount of general waste continues to rise after a few years of decline and this is something Adur & Worthing Councils are keen to address too because much of this waste could be dealt with in another way.
Going back to my own household, we’ve set about not only recycling as much as we can but also reducing the amount of waste we throw away. Ultimately I have to practise what I preach if I’m to persuade others.
I think perhaps the most important thing we did to reduce household waste was to get a compost bin. Managing our fruit and vegetable peelings at home made a huge impact on our weekly waste and helped eliminate the smell from our bin.
I go shopping with a list to make sure we don’t buy anything we don’t need, and meals are planned to ensure that leftovers are dealt with by using the freezer efficiently. In this way, we spend less and waste less.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself dealing with other people’s waste. I can’t seem to go anywhere without picking up plastic bottles and cans and taking them home to recycle. It makes me cross that so much good quality recycling is discarded as litter.
Interestingly, a new campaign being conducted by my colleagues at West Sussex County Council is now highlighting the cost of putting recycling in general waste bins (or discarding it as litter). If recycled instead, this could generate an extra £3 million a year to spend on vital services. I’ll certainly do my part to help with the cause – will you?
Paul is writing a weekly blog on his work and that of the waste services team as part of Our Stories, Your Councils, a public awareness scheme to raise the profile of the important and varied work of Adur & Worthing Councils. You can read his blog on the Councils’ website, www.adur-worthing.gov.uk, where you can also find tips and advice on recycling.