Agenda item

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) Update

An update on Recycle More and other SWP projects.


SWP represented by Michael Cowdell, Customer Experience Manager.


Cllr Andrew Sully introduced the item as Portfolio Holder for the Environment. 


Michael Cowdell presented a series of slides on behalf of the Somerset Waste Partnership. These can be viewed here.


Questions from the floor as follows:-


·        It was agreed that daily communications around missed collections to alert residents was very good via social media but was better communication needed between SWP and SUEZ? Were they aware when they missed collections and the level of resulting complaints? SWP are in day-to-day contact with SUEZ, and both are doing their best to address this issue. The level of complaints is still too high, but pressure is being brought to bear and it is reducing. 

·        What steps are taken to educate householders about recycling, and what can be done for those households who have difficulty with storing the various waste containers? There will be escalations such as marking of bins to advise of contaminants in the waste containers – this is the main reason for a “left collection”. The next step is letters to householders to explain how the refuse should be separated, so that it is easier to collect. HMOs and those properties (such as flats) who have nowhere to store their bins will be dealt with on case-by-case basis.  

In the past, “Gull-Bags” were trialled in parts of Taunton and Watchet to see if they would provide a suitable alternative to a wheelie bin. Unfortunately, the trial was not successful, so the use of gull-bags has been discontinued. 

It was more difficult to collect recycling from HMOs because the level of contamination from and mixed recyclables took more time. 

·        Concern was expressed for those people who couldn’t report missed collections online due to accessibility issues. Missed collections and other complaints can still be made to SWT via the Customer Services number (main switchboard) and these will be passed on. 

·        A query was made about the tonnage of tins/cans that were collected as the amount seemed to be low. Explained as “empty volume”. They take up a lot of room before crushing, but once crushed they don’t represent a lot of weight in terms of tonnage. 

·        Concern was expressed that some residents were placing their household waste in the litter bins at public parks. Despite being cleared immediately, it was proving to be a daily occurrence. This is fly tipping! If residents put their domestic waste in litter bins, it will be reported, enforced and SWT will fine the culprits if they can be found. 

·        Although the frequency of missed collections was getting better there was no room for complacency! 

·        Cllrs praised refuse collectors who went above and beyond in their level of service. Particularly those who adjusted their routes and accommodated the elderly and infirm, who had difficulty with putting out their refuse containers. 

·        A schools officer is going to be employed to encourage a better working arrangement with schools and other large organisations. 

·        The level of food waste collected has remained static, and SWP were examining the reasons for this. 

·        It was asked how families with disposable nappies were coping with the three weekly general waste collection cycle? Very well overall. If a need for a larger container or additional collection was required, this was catered to on a case-by-case basis. Also related to other medical needs/requirements such as clinical waste collections which could be made more frequently. 

·        It was asked where the pick-up and drop-off points were for collection crews as this could be quite disruptive to residential neighbourhoods, first thing in the morning. There were two in SWT. One was in Priorswood which had attracted some complaints as very residential and the other on the Blackbrook trading estate.