Back in the 1980s, there was little recycling of household waste and most collections were undertaken by charities and environmental groups. I first set-up a paper collection in 1981 and supported Friends of the Earth in campaigning for better resource-use and more recycling. After studying environmental sciences at university, I worked for Friends of the Earth, nationally and regionally, and mostly for local authorities (including in Bath and Somerset), as a recycling officer and waste manager from 1989 until 2017, when I took early retirement.

Through this website, I wanted to share some of the reports and work I and others undertook over the years. Some highlights are shown on this home page and details are presented in reports. There is a page with some history summarising key developments over the years and a page with information on my involvement.

The website is intended for enthusiasts and I hope some find it of interest and useful. Further contributions or comments are welcomed. At the end of this post and on all website pages, there are buttons to share on social media and to comment by ‘leaving a reply’. You can also contact me direct.

Dave Mansell – August 2017

Wiveliscombe, Somerset

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More and better recycling since the 1980s

See some history for information on how kerbside sort recycling collections have developed since the 1980s in the UK.

Over time, more materials have been collected for recycling, more containers provided to householders and vehicle designs have steadily improved. There have also been changes in collection frequency, especially for refuse, as more has been collected for recycling.

Less frequent refuse collection boosts recycling

A growing number of local authorities are changing their refuse collections to every three or four weeks to boost recycling and to reduce disposal costs. There were 15 adopters at my last count with more planning to follow.

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) started to consider this in 2013 and undertook trials to test ways of diverting more waste to recycling in 2014. The most effective service package for us involved enhanced weekly recycling and picking up refuse every three weeks. Once experienced through the trial, most residents were happy with this service due to the extra recycling, with 86% preferring it to previous collection arrangements.

After consultation with partners and long-running negotiations with SWP’s collection contractor, a decision to adopt new Recycle More collections with 3-weekly refuse was taken by Somerset Waste Board in December 2016.

Further information on current adopters and our trials, options appraisal and new service plans are given under Recycle More on the reports 2003-17 page.

A career moving recycling forward

As well as sharing reports and information on the development of UK recycling collections, this website also plots my career in recycling. This started with setting-up a waste paper collection from a Surrey garage in 1981 and eventually moved on to gaining approval for enhanced kerbside recycling alongside three-weekly refuse throughout Somerset in 2016, with much else along the way.

I have sought to do what I can to move recycling forward in the UK and encourage progressive developments, mostly through trials, new service roll-outs, reports or presentations. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be involved in a number of pioneering initiatives, including:

  • The UK’s first modern kerbside collections in Sheffield.
  • The first kerbside sort vehicles with material stillages removed by a forklift with rotator in Bath.
  • The UK’s first large-scale separate food waste collections, which were successfully introduced in Somerset alongside fortnightly refuse.
  • The UK’s first county-wide partnership with a single team of officers reporting to a joint board.

I believe I can take some credit for the design of the kerbside sort collection vehicle and for the separate food waste collections. There were others involved and others doing elements of these before, some of which we were partially copying, but I was centrally involved in developing and rolling-out these then new initiatives. There is more on contributions made in the pages on some history and about me. Further information on the projects are provided in reports, which are available for download or online viewing.

Pioneers in Bath

During the 1990s, I worked as Bath’s first Recycling Officer. The then city council had a great partnership with Avon Friends of the Earth and was willing to be a leader in developing new recycling services.

We made rapid progress in establishing recycling systems for the city, including green box kerbside collections and mini-recycling centres for flats. The council also led on other initiatives, such as buying recycled and supplying thousands of home composting bins.

The photo above shows Andy Cunningham (on right) from Avon FoE and me at the launch of our new design for a kerbside sort collection vehicle with separate material stillages, which were unloaded by a forklift truck with rotator.

City of Bath Recycling 2
Early green box collection vehicle in Bath.

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I plan to add more content, including more photos and older reports, and may also add some analysis and suggestions for future developments.

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