Why should I care about how much waste I produce?
The average Briton is using more than three times their share of the world’s resources. We all need to think about what we buy and try to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
The waste hierarchy describes ways of dealing with waste in order of importance. At the top of the hierarchy, and the most important action we can take is reduce, followed by reuse and recycle. At the bottom is recover and landfill.
In Staffordshire, most of the waste which is not re-used or recycled is sent to one of our two Energy Recovery Facilities, where it is used as a fuel to generate electricity. Whilst these plants are a much better option than landfill, it is more important to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible to keep valuable resources in circulation for longer.
Reducing the amount of waste we produce is a great way to lessen our impact on the environment and can save money.
There are lots of ways to make a real difference. For example, you can reduce your waste by:
- Cutting down on food waste by planning the food shopping and only buy what we need. Did you know the average family could save £700 a year by simply reducing the amount of food being thrown away?
- Buying products with less packaging. Try to avoid buying items which are individually wrapped. Where possible look out for refill packs or concentrated products, or products that can be used more than once, for example, rechargeable batteries.
- Take a re-usable carrier bag shopping with you.
- Stop getting junk mail through the door.
- Avoid single use items such as disposal coffee cups and opt for a re-usable mug.
After reducing waste, the second best option is to reuse items. Here are a few suggestions for reusing items.
If you can’t reduce or reuse the next best option is to recycle your unwanted items. Recycling is a process that turns unwanted items into something new. This helps to save on resources by reducing the need to extract new materials and requires less energy.
Staffordshire provides lots of ways for you to recycle, if you are unsure if it can be recycled please check first. It is important not to mix non-recyclable waste in the recycling collections as this can contaminate the load and could lead the whole load being rejected from the recycling facility.
The majority of waste that isn’t re-used or recycled is sent to one of our two energy recovery facilities in Four Ashes and Hanford. These plants burn waste at extremely high temperatures in a controlled environment to produce energy which is fed back to the grid.
Whilst these plants are a much better option than landfilling our waste, it is still important to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.
The energy recovery plant at Four Ashes is operated on behalf of Staffordshire County Council by Veolia. Tours of the plant can be arranged on request for Staffordshire schools and community groups. Please contact Hilary on 0203 567 6300 for information.
There is a small amount of waste which currently can’t be recycled or sent for energy recovery. Currently less than 3% of Staffordshire’s municipal waste is being landfilled and we are working hard to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2020.