Catherine Gregson-Bourke Waste Projects, Data & Education Officer
About Catherine Gregson-Bourke:
Catherine has worked with Adur & Worthing Councils since February 2022 and is currently the Waste Projects, Data and Education Officer. Catherine has worked in waste management at a number of local authorities and has over 12 years of experience in this field.
Catherine's role is to support projects within waste operations including service improvement and introduction. She also collates data on what's collected in Adur & Worthing and reports it to central government.
In addition, Catherine is responsible for promoting the waste hierarchy; encouraging residents to reduce and reuse before recycling and to view disposal as the very last option.
She is passionate about viewing waste as a resource and encouraging others to think carefully about what they throw away.
Outside work Catherine enjoys photography and long walks on the Downs with her dog, Pickle. She also enjoys gardening and is a keen home composter!
You can read Catherine's current blog posts on this page below:
See also: Recycling & waste for residents and Commercial recycling & waste
6th March 2023: It's Food Waste Action Week and this year the theme is: Win, Don't Bin!
As I've mentioned in some of my previous blogs, food waste is one of the biggest sources of waste from our homes. In Adur and Worthing it makes up approximately 40% of the rubbish we collect from homes and from analysis, we know that more than half of that could have been eaten.
Research shows that 25% of food wasted in UK households is due to cooking, preparing or serving too much and it's costing us a shocking £3.5 billion a year!
So, how can we avoid the bin and win this Food Waste Action Week?
Here's some simple good food habits that can really make a difference to the amount of food you're throwing away and save you some money:
- Create a meal plan: 20 mins planning meals for the week can prevent those 'just in case' purchases and save you time and money during the week.
- Think before you shop: What do you actually need? What's in the fridge/freezer? Who is in and out this week?
- Take your shopping list: Stick to what's on your list and set a budget for your shop.
- Store your food correctly: check your fridge temperature and store most of your fruit and veg in the fridge if you can as it will last longer.
- Keep an eye on your fresh food: have an 'eat me first' shelf in your fridge, when meal planning leave one day free to use up leftovers or food approaching its date. Also remember the difference between 'best before' and 'use by'. Best before refers to quality not safety, so don't bin food unnecessarily.
- Use up your leftovers: if you have cooked, prepared or served up too much, can you eat it the following day or take it for lunch? Personally, I much prefer last night's leftovers to a sandwich!
It can be really difficult when we're busy to find time to plan ahead but when it comes to food waste it really does pay off.
For loads more really useful information on getting the most out of your food visit the:
13th December 2022: A guide to recycling at Christmas
Cards and Wrapping paper
Most cards and wrapping paper can be put in your recycling bin. If the cards are covered in glitter, ribbons or other embellishments then they will need to be placed in your rubbish bin, or you could repurpose them for next year's gift tags!
Metallic wrapping paper also needs to go in your rubbish bin. The easiest way to check whether wrapping paper is recyclable is to do the 'scrunch test'. Scrunch the paper in your hand, if it stays scrunched up, it can be recycled. If it springs back open, it needs to go in your rubbish bin. See:
Tin foil and trays
Tin foil and disposable foil cooking trays can be recycled as long as they are clean. Allow cooking oil to cool completely before transferring it to a used margarine tub or similar and placing it in your rubbish bin. Please don't pour oil or fat down your sink, as it leads to blockages. Wash and remove as much grease as possible, but if the foil or tray is too greasy to clean, please put it in your rubbish bin. See:
If your fairy lights no longer work, you can recycle them using our free kerbside WEEE (Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment) collection service. Pop them next to your bin (rubbish or recycling) and we'll make sure they are collected and recycled. See:
Any electrical items that you no longer want but still work can be sold or donated to charity. If they no longer work, consider taking them to your local repair cafe (Adur / Worthing) and passing them on for someone else to use. If they are beyond repair, you can recycle them from home using our kerbside WEEE (Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment) collection service. See:
If you've received clothes for Christmas and need to make some room in the wardrobe, make sure your old clothes get a second chance. If there's still life in them, donate to a charity shop, or sell online. You could also organise a post-Christmas meet up to swap clothes with friends. As an alternative, take them to a charity clothing collection point or your local recycling centre for reuse or recycling. See:
Batteries can be returned to many major retailers. You can also take them to a recycling centre.
Please do not put batteries in your rubbish or recycling bins as they can cause fires in our vehicles and at our sorting / processing plants.
Video: Zombie batteries wreak havoc at recycling and waste facilities on YouTube
Flatten your boxes and place them in or next to your recycling bin. Please make sure that boxes are kept dry as wet cardboard cannot be recycled. See:
If you have large amounts of cardboard, you can take it to a recycling centre:
The paper and card elements of your crackers can be recycled. If they have glitter, ribbons or other embellishments, please put them in your rubbish bin.
Plastic film, wrapping and bags
Most major supermarkets now accept plastic bags and film for recycling. Find your nearest collection point:
If you bought a real Christmas tree this year, you can recycle it for free through our garden waste collection service from 12th January 2023. You do not need to subscribe to the service, simply leave your tree in a visible and easily accessible location at the boundary of your property on your next collection day and we will collect it.
There's no limit!
Remember, there's no limit to the amount of recycling you can place out for collection. If you can't fit all of your recycling into your bin, please leave it in a box or an untied carrier bag next to your bin. Please don't use black bin bags as our crews might mistake it for rubbish.
- What you can recycle: paper, card, metal, plastic, glass, tin foil & foil containers, cartons (tetra paks), WEEE (Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment) and Textiles (clothes and shoes)
- Check your bin collection day
6th December 2022: Have a sustainable Christmas
There's always pressure to spend over the Christmas period and this year more and more of us are looking at how to save money but still have a cracking Christmas.
Spending less doesn't need to mean missing out and as well as saving you a few pounds it will make your Christmas more sustainable too - win, win!
So, here are some top tips for a sustainable, affordable and fun Christmas.
Handmade gifts can be much more thoughtful and special than something shop-bought. Pickles, preserves, chocolates and cookies are all great gifts or if you're arty or handy why not give people something you've made?
Does your workplace have a Christmas jumper day? Don't rush out and buy a new one. A search online for secondhand Christmas Jumpers will bring up options from as little as £4! Also, why not swap with friends for a new-to-you jumper without splashing out. After all, you're only likely to wear it once!
Give experiences or vouchers rather than physical gifts:
Some people are almost impossible to buy for, so instead of risking a present that will just gather dust why not buy vouchers for a meal out at a local restaurant, a takeaway or a trip to the cinema. You could also make your own vouchers offering your services - babysitting, pet sitting and gardening are all ideas to help take the pressure off others throughout the year.
Choose second hand:
Buying second hand often means you get much more for your money. This is particularly the case with expensive electrical items such as cameras, but also with clothing. Try searching online, in local specialist second hand and charity shops and on auction sites such as eBay. You're also much more likely to find something unique!
Much of the waste generated at Christmas comes from over-buying food. It can be really hard to judge how much you need when you're cooking for more people than usual, but there are handy tools online to help you buy only what you need on the BBC Good Food website. They also have some really great recipes to help you use up any leftovers:
- Christmas portion planner - on the BBC Good Food website
- Christmas leftovers recipes - on the BBC Good Food website
Ditch the plastic and make your own decorations:
Gather evergreens to make natural wreaths or try making natural garlands. These orange garlands not only look great, but smell great too!
Photos: Christmas Jumper, decoration making, homemade Christmas snowflake decorations and chutney
8th November 2022: A new project to tackle food waste is coming to Southwick
UKHarvest, a food rescue and education charity will run a community food hub at Southwick Community Centre on the second Wednesday of every month in partnership with West Sussex County Council.
The idea behind the food hubs is to redistribute good quality surplus food from businesses and producers to local communities. Food is collected directly from supermarkets, farmers, wholesalers and catering companies and delivered to these local food hubs for rescue and redistribution.
For a small voluntary donation of £3.50 you can pick up a wide selection of surplus food that would otherwise have gone to waste.
As well as helping to prevent food waste and easing the pressure of the rising cost of the weekly food shop, the hubs will also provide advice on how to get the most from your food.
Anyone on a tight budget is welcome, you do not need a referral or a voucher to attend and nobody will be turned away.
The project, led by West Sussex County Council, is taking place across the county in areas that have been identified as having high levels of avoidable food waste (up to 40% on average). Reducing the amount of food we throw away is really important both in terms of reducing our environmental impact and making our food go further as we all feel the pinch.
The hub takes place on the second Wednesday of each month until March 2023 at The Southwick Community Centre, 24 Southwick Street, Southwick, Brighton, BN42 4TE between 10:00am and 11:00am.
You can read more about the UKHarvest community food hub project and access some really helpful resources including tips on waste-prevention on:
25th October 2022: A frightful waste!
Are you planning to carve a pumpkin this week? I am! It's something I look forward to doing each year and popping it on my doorstep ready to welcome the local Trick-or-Treaters.
According to research by environmental organisation Hubbub, we buy 39.9 million pumpkins each Halloween and the frightful fact is that most of these go uneaten!
- only one in nine people cook their pumpkin
- 22 million pumpkins will go to waste
- that's £32m of edible food wasted!
The process of getting food from the fields to our plates accounts for 30% of the world's CO2 emissions, so let's make sure we make the most of it.
You might have noticed that some pumpkins are labelled as 'carving' pumpkins, but this doesn't mean you can't eat it! Carving pumpkins are generally less fleshy but they are perfectly good for soups or stews.
The following video and tips should provide some inspiration to help you to #EatYourPumpkin this year!
Once you've hollowed out your pumpkin, separate out the seeds from the stringy bits and the flesh.
The seeds are a brilliant source of zinc and are perfect for snacking on. Remove any flesh and place them on a baking tray with seasoning or spice mix of your choice and bake for 10 to 15 mins.
The stringy bits can be added to a pan of water, boiled and then strained leaving you with the perfect base for soups.
The flesh can be added into your soup base with any other leftover veggies or used in curries and cakes. A quick search online will throw up loads of delicious pumpkin recipes - for example:
Then of course comes the best part - carving your scary face or design. I've seen some really impressive creations!
Sadly, once the fun is over, it won't be long until your pumpkin starts looking a little sad and it's time for it to be thrown away.
If you compost at home, you can cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces and add it to your compost bin.
If you don't compost at home, then you will need to put it in your rubbish bin. Again, it's best to chop it up into smaller pieces so it takes up less room.
Enjoy eating your pumpkins and have a happy Halloween!
PS: Please remember that not everyone will want to take part in Halloween events or trick or treating - so please respect their point of view. A useful poster you can put this in your window, or on your door, to help try to stop unwanted callers is available below:
17th October 2022: Recycle Week 2022 - Let’s Get Real About Recycling
This week, as part of Recycle Week 2022, I want to talk about one of the biggest problems we still face - incorrect items in your recycling bin!
One item in the wrong bin can’t hurt, can it?
Unfortunately, yes it can. Incorrect items cause issues for the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) where your recycling is sent to be sorted and separated. Items like plastic bags and shredded paper cause issues for the sorting machinery, while other items are simply not recyclable at all.
Each MRF has a list of acceptable materials - these are materials that can be sorted and separated by the MRF’s machinery and recycled. It's really important that only these items are collected for recycling.
Lorries arriving at the MRF are subject to spot checks to determine the quality of the recycling on board. If the recycling is deemed to be too ‘contaminated’ (containing a large proportion of incorrect items or items that cannot be recycled) then the lorry can be turned away.
This means that the whole load will be rejected and treated as refuse rather than recycling, a real waste of resources and everyone’s efforts. It also results in additional costs incurred by the Councils.
How do we prevent this from happening?
You are the most important link in the chain when it comes to reducing contamination. As well as making sure that you only recycle the items listed on our website:
It’s also really important that you make sure these items are clean, dry and loose. Food residue, liquids and grease from packaging can make any paper and cardboard in the bin unrecyclable.
Additionally, before your recycling reaches the sorting machinery it passes on a conveyor belt through a team of hand pickers. These people have the important task of pulling out as much contamination as possible. I’m sure you can imagine how unpleasant it is for them to pick through items covered in food residue.
Our crews also carry out a quick visual check before emptying your bin. If they notice items that shouldn’t be in there, they will tag your bin and ask you to remove the incorrect items. They will then return to collect it on your next scheduled collection day.
All of this helps, but it’s impossible to capture all of the incorrect items before they reach the sorting process. On average 6.12% of our loads are classed as contaminated - that’s approximately 970 tonnes of material that shouldn’t have been in the recycling bin.
West Sussex County Council have a handy A-Z of recycling on their website which is really helpful for some of the more confusing items:
So please help us by:
- visiting our website to check that you’re recycling the right items. You might even find that you can recycle more than you thought!
- making sure your recycling is clean, dry and loose - no plastic bags please!
Can I really make a difference?
Yes, absolutely! Individually it may be hard to imagine the impact your actions have, but collectively it makes a huge difference. Last year in Adur and Worthing, we collected 15,848 tonnes of recycling because individuals made the effort to place these items into the correct bin. That’s approximately 1,864 collection vehicles worth of material being turned into something new.
Photo: One of the Councils' recycling trucks
3rd October 2022: Leaf fall
I can't quite believe we're in autumn already, but here we are! My favourite season of all - crisp bright days and the chance to enjoy the changing colours of the leaves.
At this time of year those leaves create a lot of additional work for our cleansing crews as they work hard to ensure that footpaths are kept clear and safe. We collect somewhere in the region of eight tonnes of leaves each month over the busy season from September to January.
If you have a garden, you might also find yourself busy raking and tidying the fallen leaves.
Managing garden waste at home wherever possible is the best option environmentally. If you have space, putting the fallen leaves to work in your garden can be really beneficial - shredded leaves (pass over them with a mower) can be spread around flower beds insulating and nourishing the soil and helping to prevent weed growth.
You can also place your leaves into a bin liner, poke a few holes in the bottom with your garden fork and then tuck them away in an out of sight corner for up to two years to create leafmould. Top tip: wet leaves will break down more quickly than dry leaves, so give them a quick soak.
Good quality leafmould (two years) can be used to grow seeds, and poorer quality (under two years) can be used as mulch or soil improver. The RHS has some really useful information:
In smaller quantities fallen leaves can be added to your compost bin if you have one. If you don't have one but would like to give composting a go, have a look at the compost bins available through our website:
There's a range of different models and sizes available with some on a buy-one-get-one-half-price offer - perfect for teaming up with a friend or neighbour. Water butts are also available - save the winter and spring rainfall now to help keep your garden blooming over the drier months!
If you don't have use for leaves in your garden you can use our garden waste collection service to dispose of them, subscribe for a 240 litre garden waste bin and weekly collections:
Or, if you only require ad-hoc collections, you can purchase our biodegradable garden waste sacks. At £1.25 each, the sacks hold up to 75 litres of waste and are available from a range of outlets across Adur and Worthing:
There's no need to book a collection, just present your bags on the boundary of your property on your collection day and our crew will be along to collect them:
All garden waste collected by us from households in Adur and Worthing and taken to our tips (recycling centres) is sent to either Henfield or Tangmere and turned into great quality peat-free compost.
You can watch the process in this video:
Page last updated: 13 March 2023