Results of Gloucestershire zero waste week

Filed in Blog by on August 17, 2009 5 Comments
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Gloucestershire zero waste week; results are in!

Gloucestershire zero waste week; results are in!

You may remember at the beginning of the year, Gloucestershire county council ran its zero waste week.

1,300 residents, schools and communities signed up for Gloucestershire Zero Waste week with 270 monitoring forms being sent back in.

During the challenge week, residents reduced their waste by an average of 3.8kgs per household, with most residents achieving a 50% reduction in waste sent to landfill.

If that 3.8kg waste figure was extrapolated across the county, we would achieve our long term 60% recycling and composting targets.

Zero waste pledges

We’ve now had the analysis done on the  results and this is what they showed:

Of the 1,300 residents who signed up for the zero waste challenge, the following pledges were undertaken:

  • 1095 – smart shopping
  • 1087 – use kerbside box
  • 989 – use a reusable shopping bag
  • 901 – compost at home / use green bin
  • 115 – use real nappies

zero waste concerns

The most common concerns raised by the residents about their experiences during the zero waste challenge week were:

  • Volume of plastic packaging created by the household, mostly related to food trays and tubs.
  • How to deal with food waste, in particular meat and bones.
  • Whether medication packaging could be recycled.
  • How to store recycling materials at home.
  • Lack of knowledge / information about where to recycle items such as light bulbs and batteries
  • Lack of information about local bring back sites for items like tetra paks

Reducing landfill waste

The main actions residents took during zero waste week to reduce their landfill rubbish were:

  • Changing shopping habits away from supermarkets and using local suppliers such as farmers markets and box schemes.
  • Meal planning.
  • Bulk buying commodities such as washing powder.
  • Using compost bins in gardens or making use of garden waste collection systems offered by the local authority.
  • Switching to real nappies from disposables.
  • Home baking foods such as cakes and flapjacks

Lifestyle changes

Asked which lifestyle changes residents would continue with, the top three answers were:

  • Buy foods with less packaging
  • Shop locally instead of at the supermarket
  • Composting

Recycling tips

Residents were   asked what tips and information they found to be the most useful and to provide any suggestions for the future development of waste awareness campaigns.

The main responses to this question were:

  • The need for increased levels of recycling information especially for the more difficult to recycle materials and where the facilities for these are located.
  • Increased publicity of the challenge week with traders across the county.  Some residents were asking at local shops for items to be placed in their own containers to find the trader knew nothing about the event but when the reasons were explained they were very supportive of campaign objectives.
  • For the County council to lobby supermarkets and work with them to try and reduce packaging.
  • Parish magazines to have a recycling column and the potential for hints and tips or a weekly top idea to be available.
  • Increase in the range of plastics which can be collected for recycling, for example yogurt pots and tubs.  This is a service which is commonly requested by residents across the county at both roadshow events and displays.
  • Environmental impacts of additional trips to the HRC or bring bank sites, as residents were utilising these mechanisms more during the week to boost their recycling activity.

So there we have it, a successful looking zero waste week for Gloucestershire.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the  results and if you took part, would like to hear your experiences on your week! A few months on, are you still reducing your waste or have old habits slipped back in?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (5)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Surveys from the Zero Waste Week are useful in improving future performance, since the more people including traders, are involved the bigger the response. The 50% reduction in landfill from the hundreds who replied is an excellent achievement. Incentives might help increase the numbers next time as well as the natural improvement with experience. The findings gel with our various experiences which indicates the truthful basis for the survey and our trend.

    Despite our own achievements it has to be said that many others are less inclined towards Zero Waste, including family and friends. Yesterday such a situation resulted when I was presented with a box of toffees and a cake box, the latter due to Sunday shopping where most local bakers are closed. The cakes were shared out for the family visitors and toffees opened later. This will raise the quarter waste total a bit but is not a threat to the 5 year target, if prevented in future. Gifts of sweets are a particular problem, best avoided, while home baking can provide cakes for Sunday visits.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John, I think the results were so promising, but I fear nothing will get done with them. They stated that the 60% target could be easily achievable, and in the same week a story is in our local paper about ANOTHER proposed site for an incinerator.

    An incinerator still remains the ‘easy option’ rather than re-educating people and putting better recycling facilities into place.

  3. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    The incinerator projects will continue, until better alternatives are established. New Earth Solutions, on LetsRecycle today, initiated projects for pyrolysis and gasification as renewable energy sources. This is a pioneering effort to test safety and environmental aspects, with the prospect of expansion to its other sites throughout the country. If successful, EfW will be eclipsed as a non-renewable source of energy, with environmental hazards.

    In Corby, children were born with severe birth defects, hand development was the main side-effect, arguably over toxic waste exposure from a disused coal plant which was landscaped by the local council. The council are appealing against a court decision which laid blame at their negligence in creating clouds of toxic dust over the nearby community. The whole episode just highlights the toxic waste issue which comes with EfW.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    John, the story of children in Corby is devastating; is it resolved yet or is this a new story? I’d not heard of it until you mentioned it.

  5. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    The Council have appealed the decision against them, which is their right. The story is a long-running campaign by the affected families lasting possibly decades. This was before toxic waste, from EfW, became an issue since coal burning produces its own type of toxic waste needing separate landfilling/burial?

    The accidental release of this toxic dust cloud, derived from coal burning, highlights the risks in longterm storage of such material. Far better to find alternative ways of dealing with municipal waste which do not produce this unwanted endproduct.

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