Struggling to remember which bin goes out when?

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We’re near the end of week two of the new collection service and overall, it’s going well. However, I know from the questions we’re getting on social media and from the calls to our Customer Service Centre, that some people are not sure which containers to put out each week.

I realise it’s not always easy to keep track of what goes out and it will take a few weeks to get into the new Blue/Green Week pattern.  We’ve all been there…bin day dawns and you take a sneaky glance down the street to see what everyone else is putting out this week and follow suit.

The best advice I can give you is to keep your Recycling Calendar handy – maybe use magnets to keep it on the front of your fridge like me, or inside a regularly used kitchen cupboard or on the wall by your recycling containers.

We know there has been some confusion over the recycling calendars. All residents had a temporary 3-month calendar in February with their Council Tax bill, which covered until the end of June and then we issued a new 10-month calendar which started from 20 June and some people’s Blue and Green Weeks had changed. We realise it‘s caused some residents to put the wrong containers out and we apologise for this. Please recycle your 3-month calendar and use your new Recycling Calendar from now on.

If you’re ever need to check which week you’re on and your calendar is not handy, you can use our quick and easy look-up online. Just go to www.colchester.gov.uk/recycling and click ‘Check’, use your postcode to see if you’re on a Blue or Green Week. It also reminds you what goes out on those weeks and your collection day.

Here’s a quick guide to what goes out on a Blue or Green Week and what containers to use:

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The best way I’ve found to remember it is that all your clear bags go out on the same week, so that’s paper/cardboard, plastics and textiles (all in separate clear bags) alongside your garden waste – these go on a Green Week.

That leaves your black bags/bin and box or boxes that contain cans and glass – these go out on a Blue Week.

You can find a helpful list of what you can and can’t recycle on our website here.

This reminds me of a really interesting question from TJ last week, who asked if they could put all their recycling in one container and I thought the answer might help everyone understand why we collect our recycling in separate containers and bags.

The answer is about how the recycling processing plants grade the materials collected. By collecting our recycling in separate containers, it is classed as ‘clean recycling’. This means it’s a higher quality product than when recycling is mixed in one container or bin.

We sell our ‘clean’ recycling materials to a processing plant, which last year gave us an income of £260,000. Councils that collect mixed recycling in one wheelie bin have to pay a licensed waste management company an amount (£) per tonne to sort their recycling before it moves onto the recycling markets.

It’s no secret that central government funding is being cut for local councils, and the income we get by selling our recycling helps us to support and continue to delivery our core frontline services.

If you have any questions, you can find our Frequently Asked Questions or send a comment in and I’ll reply.

What happens to your food waste?

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I think the best thing you can do with food is enjoy it…but some waste like egg shells, apple cores and tea bags is inevitable – and I realise some families will have more waste than others.

But have you ever wondered what happens to your food once we’ve picked it up? It gets turned into energy and fertiliser. Our team have put together this short video to explain a bit more and show you how easy it is to do:

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The food waste we collect from the kerbside goes through a very interesting process called Anaerobic Digestion.

And here’s the science bit (I’ve always wanted to say that)…it uses micro-organisms to break down food waste in the absence of oxygen inside an enclosed tank. As it breaks down, it gives off a ‘bio-gas’ (a renewable energy) which is collected and used to generate electricity. At the same time it also creates biofertiliser that is used in farming.

Did you know that 70% of all food waste that is produced in the UK comes from households? The cost of this to an average household is £470 a year (parliament.uk)! I know, I had to sit down too!

So the biggest bit of advice I can offer (and this will save you a few ££’s) is to be aware of how much food your buy. You could make a menu each week – just remember to check what you have in your fridge or freezer already before making a list. If those impulse buys are still slipping into your trolley it might help to make more frequent, but smaller food shopping trips, and not to buy items with a short shelf life if you aren’t sure when you’ll use it. If you want other hints and tips I highly recommend the Love Food Hate Waste website.

But we will all have some food waste, so I thought this quick guide will help to get you started on your food waste recycling journey.  You can find a full list on our website here.

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If you don’t use our free food waste collection, it goes straight to landfill where it rots and releases methane into the environment which is a damaging greenhouse gas. All our household food waste is collected weekly. If you don’t have a food caddy, pick a free one up from your local pick up point (sorry this is not available in flats at the moment unless directed by your landlord).

Keep an eye out for three more recycling videos coming soon, showing what happens to your paper/cardboard, plastics and glass/tins.

In the meantime, keeeeeep recycling (like Strictly Come Dancing but greener 🙂 )

It’s the final countdown…changes start on Tuesday

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I’ll be humming that song all day now…it’s my all-time favourite running song 🙂

But enough of my taste in music…I just wanted to post a quick reminder that the changes to the way we collect the recycling and rubbish in Colchester start on Tuesday!

So from Tuesday, all non-recyclable rubbish, collected from either black bags (3-bag limit) or a black wheelie bin, will switch from weekly to a two-weekly cycle. But remember, your food waste collection remains weekly.

I don’t want to bore you, as I know many of you have read my last few posts, but please do check your new Recycling Calendar to confirm your collection day as it may have changed. If you haven’t received your new calendar yet, it’s on its way. But you can always view a copy or check your collection day on our website.

Due to the new way we’re collecting your recycling and rubbish, some households will start the new calendar on a Blue Week and some on a Green Week. This is not a printing mistake, so please do check carefully to make sure you put the right containers out. And remember that paper/cardboard and textiles will be on a Green Week going forward.

We track how many tonnes of recycling and non-recyclable waste we collect, so I’m really looking forward to sharing some of those stats (I just love a bar chart) with you over the next few months. I just know that with all your help our recycling percentage will go up!

Don’t forget, if anyone wants a bit more info on what you can and can’t recycle this page on our website is very useful.

If you have any questions about the changes, take a look at our frequently asked questions here or post a comment and I’ll come back to you.

Do, do, do – do, do, do, do, do – do, do, do, do, do, do….it’s the final countdown!

Look out for your new 2017/18 Recycling Calendar

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There’s a lot going on this week as the wheelie bins are being delivered. But I just wanted to take a few minutes to let you know that a new Recycling Calendar will be coming through your letterbox this week, or early next week.

The new calendar outlines your recycling and rubbish collections from Monday 19 June, including collections over the Christmas and New Year period.

I hope you’re going to like the new-look calendar as much as we do. Our team has worked hard to add in extra tips and advice on what items can and can’t be recycled including food waste, paper/cardboard, plastics, glass, cans/tins and garden waste, alongside which container or bag to use. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone to recycle as much as they can. You can also find more information on our ‘What Can I Recycle’ page on our website.

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Due to the new collection method our crews will be using, around 17% of the Borough’s collection days will change from 19 June. The calendar will confirm what your collection day is and which weeks for you are Blue and Green for recycling.

When you look at the calendar you will see that paper and textile recycling has moved to a Green Week, so the same week as plastics and garden waste.

Here’s a quick guide:

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Some people will experience an extra Blue Week on week commencing 19 June (not a Green Week as previously mentioned on the temporary 3-month calendar which covered April to June). This is not a mistake, so please do double check what your new calendar says to make sure you put the right containers out on the right day.

Lastly, your Recycling Calendar should have arrived by 16 June, so if you haven’t received one by then (or ever mislay your copy) you can go to our website, click ‘Find’ and then ‘Download your recycling calendar’.

I’m heading back out to visit some more customers. Do send in a comment if you have a question about recycling or the changes that are coming later this month.

You Can Do It!

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I can’t believe another week has flown by already and it’s time for my fifth post – where does the time go?!

We have three dedicated Recycling Zone Wardens at the Council, myself and two others. We’re all working hard to help prepare everyone in Colchester for the forthcoming rubbish and recycling changes in June. We’re out and about somewhere different every day, knocking on doors, offering help and advice on how to recycle more and talking about the new collection changes.

We’ve met some nice people and have had some fantastic results so far. One I wanted to share with you is Keith and his family of eight (six children, two adults and a cute dog). Keith had concerns about meeting the three bag per fortnight limit as the family were putting out 10 black bags a week.

I called around to Keith’s for a chat (and a very nice cuppa – cheers Keith). We talked about the changes and ways the family could recycle more. At the same time, I dropped off the free (yes I said free) recycling containers they needed. After four weeks, they had reduced their rubbish to four bags a week but were struggling with space for food waste, so I dropped of an extra caddy for them.

Keith’s been amazing and has got the whole family involved in recycling. They put up some simple hooks for the plastic and paper recycling bags, labelled them to make it fun and easier for the kids. As a result, they’re now down to two black bags a week, which are only three quarters full. These can easily be condensed and the family are now able to confidently fall within the three-bag limit.20170313_155117.jpg

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I know that there will be a small number of families, who have specific circumstances, who will produce more than the three-bag limit, or 180litre black wheelie bin. To apply for an exemption, please read our Exemptions Policy, and if you feel you qualify, follow the steps to apply. The process will include a visit from one of us Recycling Zone Wardens to ensure we go through each application on an individual basis.

Have a great week!

Wheelie good news…

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Wow, it’s hot out there today! I’ve just popped back to the office to cool down and whilst I’m here I wanted to post something about the information postcards that we’ve been sending out to the 12,000 households in Colchester that will be moving to a wheelie bin collection. They explain how the service will work and what can and cannot go in each bin.

If you think you should be getting a wheelie bin, but haven’t received a postcard yet, you can pop your postcode in our easy to use look up facility to find out if you’re going to be in a wheelie bin collection area, or not.

If you are, we will be delivering wheelie bins between Monday 5 and Sunday 18 June, including Saturdays and Sundays. You will get two bins, one for your non-recyclable rubbish (180 litres) and one for your garden waste (240 litres).

You can choose not to have a bin for garden waste. If you do opt out it will mean you won’t receive a garden waste collection as our trucks cannot collect from white sacks in these areas. You will need to let us know by Sunday 28 May if you don’t want our teams to deliver the bin at the beginning of June. Don’t worry, you can still let us know after this date and we’ll come and collect your bin.

Once your bins arrive, your first collection using the wheelie bins will be during week commencing Monday 19 June. Keep an eye out for your new recycling calendar, coming through the post at the beginning of June, with all this information on.

Don’t forget, we have lots of Recycling Roadshows taking place across the Borough at the moment. Come along to talk to a recycling expert, collect any containers or bags that you need and to take a look at the new wheelie bins.

I’m now going back out to visit some more residents about the collection changes, but enjoy the warm weather and fingers crossed it stays nice for the bank holiday weekend.

How to set up your home recycling centre

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The question I get asked the most is about where in the home you can find space for storing the recycling boxes and bags. It can be tricky when you live in a small property, but I’ve found that it’s certainly easier to maintain the recycling habit if you create your own recycling system and make it part of your daily routine.

 Our houses and flats are all different shapes and sizes, so there’s not one solution that will suit everyone. I see some great examples when I’m out and about in Colchester and have put some of my top tips and advice below. If you have an ingenious storage solution, share it by submitting a comment.

 Potentially you can have 2 green boxes to separate cans and glass, 3 clear bags to separate paper, plastic and textiles, 1 internal food waste caddy, 1 external food waste caddy, up to 4 white garden sacks (or a brown wheelie bin in selected areas) and a black bag (or black wheelie bin in selected areas) for non-recyclable rubbish.

 You could create your home recycling centre in the:

  • Kitchen: usually the place where we create most of our rubbish in the home.
  • Utility Room: If you’re lucky enough to have one they can be a great location, especially if you’re limited for space in your kitchen.
  • Garage/Shed: If you can find room between the BBQ and garden tools this can be a great place for storing the boxes and bags out of the way.
  • Garden: If you want somewhere close to hand, but outside the house, the garden can be a great place to stack your green boxes and kerbside food caddy.  If you feel like splashing out, you can get specialist outdoor containers readily from most DIY and homeware stores.

Here are some examples that I’ve seen recently:

 My biggest top tip is to make it easy and a whole family affair. It’s easier to get others in your family involved if they know what they’re supposed to do. You could colour code, label or put pictures on recycling containers, so the kids can help sort recyclables or post instructions such as a list of what items can and cannot be recycled – here’s a handy list for you.

 Don’t forget someone in the house will need to be responsible for making sure the bags and boxes get put out for collection by 7am on the correct day. You can check yours here by simply putting your postcode in.

 I look forward to seeing all your ideas!