Learn about recycling and waste


Watch our Christmas recycling video.

Why worry about waste?

Every year Epsom and Ewell alone produces around 27,000 tonnes of household waste. Currently, around 46% of that is recycled. Of the rest, only a tiny fraction now goes to landfill (about 6% of all of your waste) and most of your refuse is burned in specialist plants to generate electricity. But even though that's better for the environment, it's still very expensive. Last year it cost over £1.7 million to dispose of your refuse.

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

How much do we recycle?

In 2015/16 residents recycled around 13,200 tonnes of household waste through our recycling services. That's about 46% of our total household waste. Thank you.

But we can recycle more. In fact, up to two thirds of household waste could be recycled today through our existing services. Yet, still, large quantities of easily recyclable waste are thrown away in green refuse bins. From time to time we study what's being thrown away in your refuse bins to help us understand what we might do to improve services. The last study in 2013 showed:

  • Over 3,000 tonnes a year of recyclable food waste
  • Around 600 tonnes a year of recyclable paper
  • Over 250 tonnes a year of recyclable clothing, textiles, shoes and accessories
  • Around 100 tonnes a year of recyclable glass bottles and jars
  • Around 80 tonnes a year of recyclable tins and cans.

We will be doing another study of what goes into refuse bins during 2016 to see if that has changed. Please remember to recycle what you can.

The future

In spring 2017 we will be changing how we collect recycling and refuse. It will be simpler, and we'll collect most things every week. We expect that the new service will allow us to break the 50% recycling barrier for the first time, perhaps even more.

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.

Does recycling really matter?

Most certainly. Recycling significantly reduces the cost of disposing of waste. Last year it cost a whopping £1.7 million a year to dispose of your refuse. So by recycling more and sending less to refuse we can pay less. Recycling is much better for the environment than any other option - including burning waste to make electricity. Recycling reduces overall carbon emissions by reducing the amount of raw materials and energy used in manufacture. For example, recycling cans reduces their carbon footprint by nearly three quarters compared to simply throwing them away and making new ones.

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 green 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 black recycling bin. 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