TENDRING Council recycled 35.1 per cent of household rubbish in 2020.

Colchester did better, recycling 56 per cent, and was 21st in the league table of 341 councils in England. Tendring was a poor 259th.

The best council was Three Rivers (Rickmansworth) at 64 per cent and the worst Barrow at 19 per cent.

When asked, most people say “oh yes, I recycle”.

However, you can see from these figures there is a lot more we can do to make sure materials do not go into landfill.

This is partly about the rubbish collection systems organised by the councils and perhaps Tendring can learn from Colchester?

Tendring’s kerbside collection is efficient with paper and card, plastic bottles and cans, food waste and garden waste.

However, Colchester does better by also collecting glass, clothes and other forms of plastic.

It is also down to you and me, though.

The total amount of waste collected in the two districts is similar at about 290kg per person per year – but this amount has not reduced significantly over the last ten years.

This represents an enormous amount of household rubbish – a vast number of lorry journeys transporting our rubbish, a tremendous effort to sort it and process it, and large areas of smelly landfill sites which produce a lot of greenhouse gases.

The biggest practical step we can all take is to reduce the amount of rubbish each of us produces.

Recycling is important but reducing rubbish is even more important.

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Reducing starts by refusing – refusing to buy what we do not need and refusing to buy goods wrapped in excessive plastic or cardboard.

It means buying from local shops and taking your own bags and containers which can be reused and refilled.

It means doing more to repair things rather than chuck.

It means asking ourselves “do I really need to buy this? Will it really be useful or am I likely to chuck it?”

Refusing, repairing, refilling, reusing is a bit more inconvenient for each of us, but it’s worth it because it will reduce your carbon footprint by about 0.3 tonnes of carbon per year.

The aim is to reduce from 7.7 tonnes of carbon emissions per year to one tonne, to avoid the consequences of global warming.

So far in my articles we have reduced by 1.5 tonnes through food choices, by two tonnes through energy choices, by two tonnes by good travel plans, by 0.3 tonnes through our wardrobe and now 0.3 tonnes through waste – a total of 6.1 tonnes. We are getting there.

Perhaps 0.3 tonnes doesn’t seem a big reduction in carbon emissions but it carries with it major benefits for the wider environment.

If we all recycle better using the council kerbside collection and recycling centres, less of Essex is taken up by smelly landfill sites, aluminium and steel are recovered from cans, plastic bottles are reformed into plastic products meaning less microplastics into our seas and rivers, paper and card are recovered to form new cardboard, food waste generates power in digesters, glass bottles make new glass, garden waste makes compost and wood is chipped to make chipboard etc.

The councils will never recycle everything so if you can go further here are examples of other ingenious schemes:

Tendring Primary Recycling Scheme is a champion for recycling everything from crisp packets to Inkjet cartridges, from bread bags to mobile phones. You name it, they recycle it.

Their scheme takes a tremendous commitment from local volunteers and generates significant funds for the primary school. Check out their website.

If you have a lot of scrap metal then Nationwide Metal Recycling NMR at Ardleigh or Colchester will weigh out your copper, brass, lead, aluminium and pay you for your trouble. It’s quite an eye-opener to go there.

For electrical appliances, consider buying a reconditioned machine rather than a new one – EcoSmart Electrical at Thorpe take in hundreds of unwanted white goods, repair and recondition machines for resale and dispose the rest responsibly.

Or go for low-tech options to keep your waste out of the dust cart.

For example, set up a compost bin into which you put all your vegetable peelings from the kitchen, your shredded paper from the office and all the compostable weeds from the garden. Remember no meat and no cooked veg.

You will produce some high-quality compost.

So, rethink your waste – firstly think about how you can reduce, reuse or repair and then recycle as much as you can.