Cutting landfill by 75 per cent

[Maggie] Since September, when I started monitoring our rubbish, our recycling has cut what would otherwise go to landfill by 75 per cent…

…it could be higher, but I don’t want to over-egg things. For those that need convincing about green stats (and why not), here’s how I work that out.

From the beginning of September to date (13 December) we’ve put out 132kg of residual waste for 895 ‘people nights’ (that includes us). Our kerbside recycling for that period was 126.5kg (weighed each week on the bathroom scales).

So far, that means we cut our landfill by about 48 per cent.

As well as what the council collect, we’ve taken cardboard (32kg), paper (49kg), mixed food plastic (12kg) to the recycling centre, as well as other waste they separate and recycle there (metal items, electrical items, batteries guests separate from their general waste etc – 36.5kg in total).

That means we’ve reduced what goes direct to the tip by about 65 per cent.

But we also encourage guests to put all their food waste into the biodigesters, as we do (well, we compost mostly, but the digesters can even cope with left overs like pizza).

That’s harder to gauge, but we’ll try…

If you’re interested in UK food waste statistics, a new report (November 2009) makes very interesting reading.

The average UK household of 2.4 people throws away 330kg of food/drink a year, or just over 6kg a week. An average household of 4+ throws away 480kg a year.

About 9.6 per cent of that is disposed of down the drain.

So for arguments sake, and ignoring what goes down the drain, the average household throws out about 298kg of food waste a year, or 0.82kg per household per night.

Our guests are usually groups of more than 2.4! Often families, very rarely singles. But for argument’s sake and so as not to be greedy, let’s stick with the average and also assume guests only compost half the UK average – and the other half still ends up in the bin.

And for ourselves, since we’re careful about food, I’ll assume we compost/biodigest the average for a 2.4 household (6kg a week), not the figure for the 4 person household we actually are. That brings our estimated food kept out of landfill to 157.3 kg to date – and that’s a conservative estimate.

So, in total, that’s 413kg recycled and 132.5 to landfill – a 75.7 per cent reduction.

Still a lot though – even better would be to bring the overall amount down further. 545kg is a lot of waste, even if some can be re-used. It always makes me think of times before bin collections when rubbish had to be disposed of at home (usually down the privy). We’d be digging a lot of new out houses… When I get a chance I read My Zero Waste – a blog by the Green family who aim to have the bin emptied just once this year. Inspiring!