Worthing Councillor shows that 50% recycling is possible

“Recycling 50 per cent of household general waste is achievable” – that’s the view of a leading Worthing councillor who is not only talking the talk, but now walking the walk too.

For the last seven months, Councillor Edward Crouch, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services, has been carrying out a personal challenge to see if he can increase his own recycling from the general refuse he and his partner produce at home. With a few changes to their buying habits, a bit of ‘wash and squash’ and the help of a social media chat bot, the household is now regularly exceeding the target.

It comes as Adur & Worthing Councils make changes to its bin collections service with the aim of meeting the 50% recycling mark. Currently this stands at 36% – below the average for West Sussex.

Cllr Crouch said:

“For quite a while now we have managed to recycle more than half of our waste in terms of weight. I have always been a keen recycler but I have been surprised by how much more we have been able to recycle by paying closer attention to the label and by knowing exactly what can be recycled locally.”

“I admit I have become quite diligent, even vigilant, in meeting the ‘clean, dry and loose’ mantra for recyclables including making sure that, if it’s needed, the recycling gets washed out. We wash up anyway so it’s not that difficult to wash out trays and tubs etc. before recycling them.”

To prove it can be done, Cllr Crouch has been weighing his general refuse and recycling bins each week and publishing the data on his Facebook page.

But he admits that it simple changes to buying habits which have made the biggest difference. He added:

“We are careful with what we buy and plan meals in advance to ensure we don’t waste food, which is generally one of the biggest components in weight of general waste. It’s about reducing the amount of waste we produce, as well as recycling.”

Know what to recycle

More than half of the waste produced by residents in Adur and Worthing and placed in their general waste bins can be recycled or reduced. Just 42% of the rubbish produced by residents should be going in the grey-lidded general waste bin. The largest amount is food waste (30%), followed by plastics, paper and glass waste (nearly 20%), all of which can be recycled.

Garden waste, textiles and electrical waste are also found in the general waste bin when they should be recycled.

From September 2019 most residents will see their general refuse collected one week and their recycling the next week. It is hope that this will help improve local recycling rates.

For logistical reasons, some flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) will continue to see a weekly collection. But a door-stepping campaign has been launched to help those on weekly general refuse collection also improve their recycling rates.

Cllr Edward Crouch has also produced a Facebook Chatbot m.me/WorthingRecyclingHelper which answers recycling questions.

Called ‘Worthing Recycling Helper’, it has a ‘yes’ list for things that are definitely recyclable and a ‘no’ list for things that are not, and also an in-between list. For example, clothing is recyclable at textile banks, but not in the blue bin. So the Chatbot will give a list of clothing recycling points as the response. You type in a product and it gives you an answer for those products which have been imputed, with new items coming on board all the time.

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