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What's in our waste?

We've been going through your rubbish and we're excited about what we found.

Last October saw the first comprehensive Hampshire-wide analysis of kerbside waste and recycling since 1999, namely, the Project Integra Waste Composition Analysis. 

Waste analysis Waste and recycling was collected from households across the county and sent for analysis. The samples selected were based on different locations, ages, household sizes, and so on, so there was a representative and varied sample of waste to analyse.

We did this as its really important for our waste and recycling service to understand what makes up the contents of the black and clear sacks. Knowing the makeup of the waste stream - what we are using and throwing away - helps us understand how well the service is performing and what we can all do to improve it.

The samples of waste and recycling from the New Forest alone totalled 1235kg of black-sack waste and 428kg of recycling; this had to be painstakingly separated by hand into 12 primary and 64 secondary composition categories. 

After months of work analysing the data, we now know there is a lot we can take from this to help improve the service and to look at how different population groups use the waste and recycling service. Some key findings are that we are still seeing a lot of recyclable material going into the black sacks. On average, 9% of the materials found in the black sacks could have gone into the clear sacks to be recycled.  As a reminder - the six things you can recycle in your clear sacks are paper, card, tins, cans, empty aerosols, and plastic bottles. You can find more information here  http://www.newforest.gov.uk/recycling

We found that almost a third of the content of the black sacks is made up of 'avoidable' food waste. Food waste accounts for the biggest proportion of our waste, 29.4% of which was deemed avoidable and 10.2% being unavoidable. People throw away food for a number of reasons; maybe they bought too much and didn't use it in time, or cooked too much and had to bin the leftovers. Sometimes people simply misread the food labels. You can find lots of helpful information on how to reduce food waste at  https://www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/smartliving/inthekitchen and https://lovefoodhatewaste.com/why-save-food

Another big contributor to the waste stream is what's known as 'other combustible waste' (11.7 %), of this 5.6% was made up of single-use nappies.

The analysis also showed us that on average 16.7% of the materials people put into the clear sacks is not currently recyclable in Hampshire; this is known as 'contamination' by waste processors and when several non-recyclable items are in the clear sack, the whole clear sack may be rejected and none of the contents get recycled. 

There are plenty of positives to take from the report - materials such as paper and cardboard are being recycled really well, as are plastic bottles.

We are going to continue to look at the findings to help us make informed decisions about the service in the future. We will also use it to target our messages and information, to deliver the right message to the right people, to help everyone reduce, reuse and recycle better.  

For more information on what can be recycled:  http://www.newforest.gov.uk/recyclingandrubbish

Updated: 26 Feb 2019
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