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Overcoming Plastic Waste Problems

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Plastic has taken a real hammering lately in the press – plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic in general have been blamed for a huge global waste problem. The problem can’t be ignored but it really needs people to change their attitudes towards waste in general and to see it as a collective problem. Waste removal has to be done responsibly and with the Government pledging to put £61.4 million to help tackle ocean plastic waste it is also something that needs to change at source too to prevent further build up. Here are some ways householders can reduce their plastic usage:
Use plastic alternatives – by no means an easy task at this point but looking for glass bottles, zero waste options in shops when replenishing drink and food supplies is an option that is growing. Even small changes like getting milk delivered in bottles helps to reduce plastic waste.
Take your own bags – since October 2015 large shops have had to charge for carrier bags. Taking your own not only saves money but also reduces the volume of new bags being used.
Use reusable drinks cups/bottles – the UK is responsible for discarding 35 million plastic bottles a year. Taking a resuable cup for hot drinks or a reusable bottle for water etc could start to impact his figure.
Take cutlery to work – when eating on the go the only cutlery on offer is often plastic – planning ahead by taking some with you or keeping some at work may mean being able to say no to plastic options in future.
Say no to straws – consider whether you need to use a straw at all for drinks and either use an alternative that isn’t as damaging to the environment or is reusable (paper or stainless steel).
Consider how you shop – convenience food including ready meals and prepared vegetables are usually accompanied by lots of plastic wrapping. Even committing to just 1 main meal a week where you use fresh ingredients could help reduce your plastic footprint.
Thinking about how you use or re-use plastic could make a big difference to the overall impact. Even if the changes you make seem small the collective change could be huge.


Tackling Roadside Waste Needs To Start With Drivers

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Environmental waste is once again hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons as it is announced that around 3.2 million mice, voles and shrews die each year due to rubbish thrown into roadsides and hedgerows from vehicles and illegally dumped waste. Once again plastic waste comes under fire as a death trap for these small mammals but essentially waste like this along with aluminium cans are causing unnecessary deaths as these vulnerable species crawl into the waste and then can’t find a way out.
The 18 month study on roadside waste was led by RSPB volunteer Graham Moates and supported by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. By examining waste in South Norfolk the study found that 1 in 10 cartons or items had traces of dead animals in them. Both organisations are urging people to not toss rubbish out of the vehicles and Keep Britain Tidy have launched a ‘Don’t be a Tosser’ campaign that targets this very issue. It also further highlights the need to clamp down on fly tipping and people using unlicensed waste removal firms.
These small mammals are essential to the food chain and so protecting them from a completely unnecessary end is of huge importance according to Moates and fellow supporters including Keep Britain Tidy ambassador and TV presenter Chris Packham.
Fortunately new rules that come into force in April means that councils will be able to fine individuals caught littering. Registered keepers of a vehicle may find themselves receiving a fine, even if they didn’t throw the rubbish, in a bid to come down hard on anyone found to be littering on CCTV footage. Chief of Keep Britain Tidy Allison Ogden-Newton is imploring councils to enforce the new rules to punish those that litter these roadside verges and wildlife havens.
Simple ways to keep your vehicle tidy could include having a bag or bin placed in the vehicle to capture all the waste. Rubbish can then be removed periodically in a quick and easy way. When looking for ways to get rid of excess household waste people should also request to see the waste carriers license, otherwise they also risk a hefty fine.
Packham is passionate about British wildlife and believes that we all have a responsibility to do more to protect our environment. Not throwing litter from vehicles and dumping waste needs to stop in order to protect wildlife and their natural habitats.


What to do if your waste services are disrupted by snow

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The country is in the grips of significant snowfall. The so called ‘Beast from the East’ has dominated the news and weather headlines for days. Flights, trains and other transport services are cancelled, hundreds of schools remain closed and people in general are being advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
As a consequence bin collections across many counties have also been suspended leaving householders unsure of when their rubbish may be next picked up. Bad weather continues and travel and public service misery is compounded. Here is what we recommend in the event of suspended waste services in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and other areas.
Don’t panic! OK, we understand you’re probably not panicking just yet but we understand how frustration disruption to bin collections can be. If your bin collection is due or overdue leave your bin out ready for collection and usually on the next available day it should be collected, weather permitting.
Bag up extra waste – as waste builds in the absence of a bin collection just continue to collect waste as normal and bag up what you can. If you have run out of room in your bin the chances are that the council will accept additional waste in the short term to make up for the weather delays.
Make other arrangements – if the icy weather continues or the council closest to you doesn’t make up the back log of waste you may want to consider contacting private waste clearance services or make plans to remove the excess waste yourself. Local firms may be able to respond quicker than council services and could be more convenient than waiting.
Book specialist waste services – if you’ve taken the opportunity to have an early spring clean with the unexpected ‘snow days’ then you may have extra waste to clear. Electrical items, excess timber and unwanted furniture may be removed by private services or specialist companies. Contacting a local company could give you the best options for getting rid of spring waste quickly. Ensure that they have the appropriate waste carrier’s license for removing your items.
We would be happy to help anyone in the Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire areas struggling to get their ‘snow’ waste or excess waste picked up. We can also assist with ad hoc requests and ongoing waste removal contracts.


Fly Tipping Predicted To Increase in 2018

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Waste news in 2017 seemed to be dominated by two major things – the reduction in kerbside bin collection by many councils in the UK and the rise in fly tipping in areas across the country. The latter is seen to be a direct result of the reduction in bin collections with householders looking to offload quite literally anywhere, rather than dispose of waste lawfully.
It is predicted that in 2018 the trend for a rise in fly tipping incidents could increase and with the last financial year reporting an equivalent of 114 incidents an hour this is a depressing thought.
There are however plans to try to change how those caught fly tipping are dealt with including the possible introduction of fixed penalties rather than put people through the courts. This is just one consideration that is the possible result of an ongoing Government consultation.
It is of course already illegal to allow someone without a licence to remove waste but the punishment can be a long process. Treating those that fly tip by way of a fixed penalty notice could add a further deterrent.
Part of the Government consultation could even see householders taken to task for failing to take ‘reasonable measures’ when hiring someone to clear their excess household waste. The proposals could see fines up to £400 if found liable in these circumstances, the idea being that putting the onus on employing a legitimate waste removal carrier in the first place. Councils can already issue fixed penalty notices for small scale fly tipping offences but this could see the responsibility to pass to the householder to find a reputable and licensed waste carrier.
Local councils via the Local Government Association are keen to quash any connection between charging for bin collections such as garden waste and the increase in fly tipping. They argue that easier reporting methods have contributed to the rise in fly tipping figures. However on the ground there are visibly more problems with people dumping waste elsewhere and general discontent with collection methods and frequency of collections.


Ways To Reduce Plastic Usage

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Plastic is everywhere – quite literally and not for any good reason. Every day it seems we’re being bombarded with images of plastic strewn all over our beaches and oceans. All this despite the fact that efforts to recycle are higher than ever before with many UK households having plastic recycling bins and collections as standard.
Quite why this is happening we’re told is down to the type of plastic itself. In the UK we don’t have the technology or enough of it in order to recycle particular types of plastic on a large scale. So regardless of our efforts to recycle we are still falling short and our plastics aren’t quite being recycled and repurposed as we had imagined.
Whilst pressure is being put on manufacturers to provide packaging that could be recycled, so too is pressure being laid at the door of consumers to find alternatives to using plastics. In some cases this may be unavoidable in the current landscape but there are ways to cut down on plastic consumption which we will discuss here:
Refuse plastic straws and plastic cutlery: Using a straw for drinks might be second nature. However switching to paper straws or just not using one altogether could be much better for the environment. Taking your own cutlery might be harder to remember but could be well worth doing.
Take a reusable cup: Hot drinks cups have come under fire most recently with a so called 25p coffee tax being considered in parliament in order to try and cut down on this waste. Taking a reusable cup with you could be an easy way around this big waste problem, especially when considering 2.5 billion cups are thrown away in the UK each year.
Remember your reusable carrier bag: The 5p tax on carrier bags has been introduced already with an estimated 85% drop in usage. Carrying a bag with you at all times could prevent being caught out.
Get milk delivered: It might seem like a thing of the past but using a glass bottle delivery and re-use service could cut down on plastic bottle consumption.
Reduce plastic packaging purchases: It might be harder to avoid but using less packaging could reduce plastic consumption. Buying loose fruit and vegetables and avoiding or substituting products that are heavily packaged in plastic could be a good alternative.


The True Cost of Christmas Waste

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When it comes to Christmas there is probably no other time when as much waste is generated. Lavish indulgence with additional food, Christmas trees, tree lights, cardboard, present packaging, toys, games consoles, wrapping paper and Christmas crackers all contribute to the waste the UK creates around the festive season. This list is not exhaustive either!
Figures in 2012 from Wrap (waste reduction advisory body for the UK government) it was estimated that Brits throw away the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, 300,000 tonnes of card packaging and 74 million mince pies each year. The sheer volume of waste is mind blowing with each UK householder spending £169 on food and wasting 30% more than normal, all at a time when bin collections are reduced and services even more stretched. The financial and environmental implications of all this excess is simply overwhelming with councils urging people to think more carefully about their purchases and what they recycle over the Christmas period to stop such a burden on waste services.
Here are some simple measures that might help:
Research waste provisions – it might not be normal to plan what you’re going to throw away before you’ve even consumed anything but knowing when bin collections are happening over Christmas and either cutting back or planning to recycle more may help. Find out where local recycling centres are to do a drop yourself or engage with private waste removal services who may offer additional services over Christmas and New Year.
Go easy – sure it’s Christmas but the waste generated is both phenomenal and unnecessary. Simple things like planning a food shop in advance, using frozen food where practical to avoid fresh food going unused or perishing. Online meal planners and party planners might help to hone in on the things you really need rather than overstocking.
Buy gift experiences rather than tangible items – finding the balance between having gifts to open on Christmas day and having nothing might seem tricky for some but actually buying a gift experience could create a more memorable and special gift for someone. There is always one person that is difficult to buy anything for so instead give them the gift of your time and take them out for dinner or a day trip to somewhere festive.


Fly tipping figures on the rise

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As councils find their budgets squeezed ever tighter many areas have found that services that were previously free now have a hefty charge attached. One such ‘luxury’ is in the area of waste where so called bulky collections now have a fee in order for the council to come out and collect and dispose of such items.
A bulky collection may consist of a single over size item such as furniture or white goods or it could simply be waste that doesn’t fit in the regular waste collection. The impact of charging is facing blame for the most part for the increase in fly tipping nationally. Recent Government figures published show that across England fly tipping rates have increased for the third year running. Only Nottingham City Council reported a 42% drop in fly tipping as one of the few remaining councils still offering free bulky collections.
Despite hefty fines for fly tipping reports suggest that only 0.2% (2135) of cases resulted in prosecution in 2016. All this despite a £50million bill for taxpayers to clean up the mess left by flytippers with items such as household waste, furniture, grass cuttings, tyres, car parts and fridges a regular feature on UK roadsides and laybys.
An alternative to council costs or illegal activity could be engaging with private services that may often give a more competitive service to householders or businesses when disposing of waste. Private companies may also be much more responsive when it comes to understanding the needs of people trying to remove waste from their property and could also offer related services such as skip hire or house clearances that could prove useful.
This alternative could be a welcome option as people begrudge “paying twice” for council services and are further incensed by imminent plans by many councils to introduce charges for garden bin collections. Despite the majority of householders totally opposed to garden waste charges some councils have already introduced the charge with more set to follow, setting a fee of circa £40 on top of their existing council tax charge each year.


Practical ways to reduce household waste

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With reduced bin collections, carrier bag charges and even talk in Scotland of money back schemes for recycling the war on waste is hotting up more than ever. With over 31 million tonnes of waste generated every year it is no surprise that councils and the Government have set targets to reduce waste.
Far from being solely the Government’s problem, waste generation is an issue for everyone and yet small changes could make a big difference. Reducing the waste a household produces and only outsourcing waste removal when absolutely necessary doesn’t necessarily mean overhauling a person’s lifestyle. Here are some quick wins to get started:
Only buy what you need
This might sound obvious but being surrounded by temptation and deals on everything can lead to people buying much more than they’ll ever need. Shopping for food and consumables only as they are needed could reduce food waste and overstocking of items that may not be used for years to come.
Buy products that last
They say that you buy cheap and you buy twice and this is definitely true in many cases. Buying quality items of clothing or investing in rechargeable batteries might seem initially expensive but could save on waste and cut down on products only being used once before being ready for the bin.
Make money from waste
Rather than binning items that are no longer needed it could be possible to donate unwanted clothing or bric a brac to charity. Alternatively car boots tend to run all year round in many areas so selling could also be an option.
Reduce junk mail
Contacting companies to cancel marketing mailings or opting for electronic mail sounds very small but the implications for production and delivery or materials could have a big impact as well as make extra space for paper bin collections.
Take your own bags
There might be something about a trip to the supermarket that instantly makes someone forget their huge stash of carrier bags at home but doing your utmost to remember to take your own bags for your weekly shop can now save you money as well as a plastic build up at home. Many supermarkets also have plastic bag recycling bins for anyone with an out of control supply.


UK House Prices Show First June Dip Since 2009

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June has traditionally been the month where the UK housing market really gains momentum. It is the time when those in the housing know expect a surge in properties going up for sale and likewise buyers seeking property. However, recent reports from Rightmove suggest a distinctly lacklustre month of inactivity and falling house prices to boot. Add to the mix that this June is the first since 2009 that house prices have fallen and it paints a very gloomy picture indeed.
According to industry experts uncertainty around the June general election is what may have stalled many into a wait and see approach to housing matters. The end result of course has done nothing much to improve things and put this together with continued uncertainty around Brexit and it leaves a rather large politically shaped hole in the UK housing market.
The June figures from Rightmove’s price index show that prices fell in June by 0.4% (between 14th May and 10th June). Their director Mike Shipside lays blame clearly at the door of the political landscape leading to low buyer confidence. Inflation is also having an impact as people struggle with rising household costs and static or diminishing wage packets. Tough times are both here and ahead for UK people.
Figures published earlier in June from the Land Registry showed the biggest increase in house prices since last October for April this year. This left the average UK house price at £220,000 – a £12,000 increase on the previous April. However, figures from last year were skewed due to the introduction of stamp duty on buy to let properties in March 2017 leading to a bumper March and dwindling April figures in 2016. On balance the year on year comparison could be seen as flawed by many.
What the future holds is anyone’s guess as political events continue to pan out. It could be that the housing market continues this stop start pattern for some time to come as buyers and sellers tread cautiously over what path to take in line with external factors.


Reducing waste could help navigate through bin collections

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Residents in Luton are almost 12 months into the experience of a reduced bin collection service. Since the start of last May the council adopted a four day service and made changes to bin collection days for many households in Luton. The timetable meant that there are no bin collections on Mondays and affected households had their day changed for their bin collection. In addition glass collections were also amended by changing to four weekly pick-ups rather than two weekly.
The change was reported to have the potential to save the council around £200,000 at year and also meant that disruption was reduced to those customers who were affected by having no collections on bank holidays. The council issued new calendars and conducted publicity to householders at the time. It is a strategy that has been adopted around the country as bin collections are reduced in order to save money and encourage greener ways from householders when disposing of waste.
Understandably some householders still struggle with Luton rubbish removal arrangements, particularly those in larger properties or households. However bin collection changes don’t necessarily need to be a hardship and a few changes could help to reduce overall waste problems such as:
Purchasing less: It stands to reason if people buy less they will have less waste. Food waste especially is a big contributor to rubbish removal in Luton and so planning a weekly shop in advance could reduce the amount of excess food purchased and avoid so much going to waste.
Outsource large waste projects: If a family is planning a reorganisation or a clearout they could use private waste services to remove the rubbish. Engaging with a private licensed firm could help to organise excess waste and avoid items that are unwanted both going into household waste and being stored at the property.
Recycle: Ensuring that a household is recycling as much as possible could have a reduction on household waste. Checking what waste can be recycled from council information could mean being able to use other bins for some waste. Recycling centres could also be used between rubbish removal Luton collections.