Over ninety-percent of Guernsey’s usual household waste is recyclable

February 12th, 2012 by Richard Lord

My household of four people has begun to study how much waste it generates and how much can be recycled each week.

Week one

In the first week of the study beginning on 28 January 2012, 10,697 grams or about 10.7 kgs of waste was produced in total; 9725 grams or about 9.7 kgs of this material could be recycled at Guernsey’s bring banks.

This material was collected from all the garbage bins in the house.

We store dry materials for recycling in plastic containers in the garage. Food waste is stored in Sistema klip it 7 litre capacity plastic containers.

For people who lack space, clean dry recyclable material can be stored in bags in a closet.

Residual waste which cannot currently be recycled amounted to 972 grams (less than 1 kg.) or less than 9.1% of the total waste generated.

Most of this residual waste consisted of crisp and sweet wrappers, plastic film used in packaging, and plastic containers that were unmarked. The residual waste is highly compressible and takes up very little space so we don’t require a roadside household waste collection more than once per month.

My household shops normally. We do not currently make a point of avoiding packaging or non-recyclable packaging, although some members of the family prefer loose vegetables and fruits over packaged, and cardboard vegetable and fruit trays over plastic trays.

To reduce the amount of waste produced, it is possible to avoid packaging or to select goods that are only packaged in recyclable material – cardboard, or plastics marked with a triangular recycling symbol and the number 1, 2, 5 or 6.

(click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Household waste generated in one week by a family of four from 28 January to 3 February 2012. Total weight of waste was 10.697 kg. Each category of waste shows percentage of total weight. (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

In the first week of the study, the following items were recycled at a bring bank:

  • Plastic bottles with separate bottle tops, trays and containers with the recycling symbol containing the number 1,2,5 or 6. Plastic marked PP or HDPE and PE, PET, or PETE can also be recycled at the plastic bring bank.
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Tin and aluminium cans, and aluminium trays and an aerosol can and metal jar lids
  • Cardboard
  • Newspapers and magazines and letter paper and envelopes
  • Juice and milk cartons
  • a pair of socks and tights

Table showing household waste for family of four for week of 28 January to 3 February 2012 (click table to expand)

By weight, food waste is a major component of household waste. Households with gardens or outdoor patios can place their food waste in a composter. Food waste should be mixed with woody garden waste and turned regularly for aeration. If food waste cannot be composted, the household rate of recycling falls appreciably.

Salvation Army bring banks located around Guernsey that accept clothing, shoes, books, DVDs, CDs, videos and video games. Some of the Salvation Army bring banks aid Les Bourgs Hospice (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

The Salvation Army has bring banks that accept clean clothing and shoes, and books, DVDs, CDs, videos and video games. As long as the clothing is clean the Salvation Army can accept it. Even clean rags are accepted because these will be cut up for stuffing and for use as thermal insulation.

Recycling glass bottles and jars and composting food waste will produce the greatest reduction in the parish refuse rate because these items are heavy and therefore cost more to landfill. If glass bottles and jars, and juice and milk cartons cannot be recycled for whatever reason, it is important to empty them of all liquid to reduce the weight of household waste put out on the street for collection.

Bottles that someone put out for collection with the household waste. Two of these bottles were partially filled and would have cost more for the parish to deposit in the Mont Cuet landfill. (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Week two

Week two from 4 to 11 February 2012 produced similar material but flowers weighing 420 grams were composted and five attractive glass perfume bottles weighing 900 grams may be donated for reuse.

Household waste generated by four people from 4 to 11 February 2012. Total weight of waste was 12.416 kgs. Each category of waste shows percentage of total weight. (cllck image to expand – ©RLLord)

For the second week, compostable waste was the heaviest material produced amounting to over 24% of the total weight. Residual waste destined for Mont Cuet landfill amounted to 954 grams or 7.68% of the total waste generated.

Table showing household waste for a family of four from 4 to 11 February 2012 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

In 2011 Guernsey households produced 12,245 tonnes of residual waste, which was delivered to Mont Cuet.

If the figure for the amount of residual waste my household of four produced in two weeks is extrapolated to the whole population of Guernsey (62,000) for the whole year, the amount of household residual waste sent to Mont Cuet annually would amount to 776.18 tonnes.

Certain holidays and birthdays would produce more total waste but not necessarily more residual waste for landfilling.

Households may produce more residual waste at certain times in life, for example, with the arrival of a baby and the use of disposal nappies.

Soiled nappies can be recycled in parts of the UK and continental Europe but not in Guernsey although there is the option to use real nappies, which can be washed and used repeatedly.

Many items have yet to be dealt with in this study.

For example, households dispose of batteries and white Styrofoam packaging used for white goods.

These can be taken for recycling to Longue Hougue, and the Chouet bring bank accepts white Styrofoam packaging material.

The Longue Hougue Waste Recycling Site accepts metal and electrical goods such as refrigerators, washing machines, dish washers, dryers, televisions and computers.

The Public Services Department will soon distribute to households a wheel-style guide showing the materials that can be recycled, and where they can be taken for recycling.


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