Watlington Climate in Action welcomed Jessica Bear, Waste and Recycling Officer at SODC.
What is Recycling?
Recycling is when we grind up our waste so that it can be easily made into something new. South Oxfordshire has a recycling rate of 63.3%, one of the best in the country, but something which needs to be taken into consideration is that not all waste is recyclable and although people do their best, it is difficult to know what can be recycled. Contamination is a major issue resulting in recycling being rejected down the line.
What can be recycled?
You will be surprised by how much waste can be recycled. Things we use every day can be recycled such as plastic bottles, plastic tubs, plastic trays and pots, tins and cans, empty aerosol cans, things made of glass, paper and cardboard, tin foils, Tetra Paks (often used for milk/juice cartons). Unfortunately, packets of biscuits, clingfilm, bubble wrap, polystyrene, flowerpots, hard plastics e.g., children’s toys, disposable coffee cups, tissues and food-stained boxes can’t be recycled because they can cause contamination. REALLY IMPORTANTLY food wastes such as tea bags, leftovers and cooking oils are great for the local process, but do NOT put any compostable packaging (such as vegware) in your food waste bin. Despite seeming to be an obvious thing to do, it contaminates our local system, and it means your bin will not be collected! Any type of liner can be used in your food waste bin, you do not have to use compostable bags instead, you could use a plastic bag or salad bad as all of the bags are removed for the process anyway.
Where does our waste go?
Our food waste gets broken down via an anaerobic digester where it will be made into a soup which is an excellent fertilizer. Garden waste is composted in open windrows and this compost is also a fantastic fertilizer for farmers. Remember that compostable packaging is NOT composted and it contaminates the garden waste. Our general waste goes to an energy recovery facility. This facility has low emissions and has diverted 95% of landfill away from landfill and it is converted into energy which powers 60,000 homes, and that number is constantly rising! Our recycling goes to Culham where it is separated into different categories and made into these massive plastic ‘bales’ which are sent off to be made into new products.
Check your bins more thoroughly by looking at the SODC website https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/environment-and-planning/waste-and-recycling and make your recycling more efficient and impactful!
By Lawrence Dew, Year 9 Duke of Edinburgh Award Volunteer
To see the talk by Jessica in full, Youtube Channel