Learn about recycling and waste


Why worry about waste?

Every year Epsom & Ewell produces around 27,000 tonnes of household waste. If it isn't recycled, then your waste is either burned to generate electricity or goes to landfill.

In fact, these days only a tiny fraction goes to landfill (about 6% of all of your waste), which is great news. But burning to generate electricity is still very expensive indeed. Last year it cost around £1.7 million to dispose of your refuse.

Recycling's better

Recycling is much cheaper than refuse, and even better for the environment than generating electricity. So the message is clear. If we recycle more, residents will pay less and the environment will benefit.

How has the Big Switch affected recycling?

In 2016/17 residents recycled about 48% of the total collected waste. That was our best ever result. But in May and June of this year we switched all houses to our new service, Simply Weekly Recycling. That changed how we collect 'dry recycling' - paper, plastics, card, cartons, cans and glass. 

In July, our first full month of the new service, 'dry recycling' was up a full 20% on the previous July. August was even better at 23% higher than the previous August. In fact, August gave us our highest total recycling rate ever recorded in the Borough, of 55%. Thank you.

But September was up only slightly versus the previous year. So, since the Big Switch, 'dry recycling' is currently up by 13% against the same period last year.

It's clear that people have quickly got used to the new service. But we cannot let our recycling rate slip. Remember to recycle what you can. Thank you.

Do I have to put my bin out every week?

That's a question we're increasingly being asked. And the answer is simple: it's up to you.

One of the benefits of weekly collections* is that you no longer have to worry about which week it is. You have the freedom each week to put your bin out if you want to, or not. Many people tell us that they don't have much to put in their black refuse bin. So there's no reason you can't simply put it out when it eventually gets full. We're happy for you to make that choice.

*Please remember that  garden waste recycling is still a fortnightly service for subscribers.

The future

We've switched houses to the new service, and now we're converting flats as well. Look out for new leaflets and bin labels at your flats (and you may see some change to your existing bins). Your leaflet and bin labels will explain everything to you.

What happens to the recycling that we collect?

We think this is the really interesting bit. What happens to your recycling after it is collected.

What can you do to help?

Remember to reduce, reuse or recycle as much as you can before you reach for the rubbish bin. Sites such as Freecycle or the Surrey Reuse Network could make it easy for you to find another home for your unwanted items. Please do not put something in your black rubbish bin if it can be recycled or reused.

Love food, hate waste

Every year across the 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink, worth £12 billion, goes to waste. Love Food Hate Waste aims to show families how they could save on their food shopping bill simply by throwing away less food. Find out about recipes and food facts that really pay. For tips on smart shopping, cooking less and clever food storage visit www.lovefoodsurrey.com.

What about carrier bags and packaging?

You can recycle your carrier bags and packaging in your green recycling bin. Or you can use carrier bags to line your food waste recycling caddy.

The amount of packaging that councils have to collect is gradually reducing. Manufacturers are working to reduce packaging, or make it recyclable or compostable. Carrier bag usage has almost halved in the UK in recent years.

In 2005, over 40 major retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and suppliers signed up to a voluntary agreement called the Courtauld Commitment. They reduced packaging waste by 30%. Courtauld Commitment 2, in 2010, aimed to reduce the carbon impact of grocery packaging by 10%, reduce household food and drink waste by 4% and reduce waste in the grocery supply chain by 5%. Now we have Courtauld Commitment 2025 which aims to cut the cost of food and drink.

How are Surrey's councils working together?

The Surrey Waste Partnership is made up of the county's eleven borough and district councils and Surrey County Council. We aim to manage Surrey's waste in the most efficient, economic and sustainable way possible.