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:
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's 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
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:
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:
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
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:
You might notice one of these bright pink tags on your rubbish or recycling bin this week:
As of next Monday (3rd October 2022) you will be able to recycle broken small electrical and electronic items by placing them next to your rubbish or recycling bin on collection day.
All of our refuse and recycling collection vehicles have been fitted with a separate cage for collecting your items, which means that we can provide a weekly collection. Whichever bin you put your item next to, you can be confident that it will be recycled.
Electrical items, often referred to as WEEE (Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment), contain valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper which can be extracted and reused. In fact, each year in the UK more than £850m of precious metals could be salvaged from our old electricals!
Recycling your broken electrical items is much better for the environment too. If we recycled all our old electricals we would cut as much CO2 as taking 1.3 million cars off the road. Electrical items also often contain hazardous materials which need to be disposed of responsibly.
A range of items can be recycled through the new service including broken kettles, irons, hairdryers, radios, remote controls and power tools. If it can fit into a carrier bag and is powered by batteries (please remove these - we don't want any fires!) or has a plug, it can be recycled!
Batteries should be taken to one of our tips (recycling centres) for safe disposal. Some shops and supermarkets that sell batteries also have dedicated disposal points.
Research suggests that each UK household is hiding away 20 unwanted electrical items, so now is the time to clear out those cupboards and drawers!
For more details on the small WEEE service (and what can and can't be recycled) see:
Some broken items may be fixable, so before you recycle them it's worth taking them along to one of our local repair cafes.
We're very lucky to have two great repair cafes locally:
- Adur Repair Cafe:
Where: Circular Space, 10 Middle Road, Shoreham, BN43 6GA
When: First Saturday of every month, 10am to 12pm
How: Please visit their website for full details
See: Adur Repair Cafe website
- Transition Town Worthing Repair Cafe:
Where: Friends / Quaker Meeting House, 34 Mill Road, Worthing, BN11 5DR
When: Last Saturday of every month 10am to 4pm
How: Please visit their website and use the online booking form
See: Transition Town Worthing Repair Cafe website
How much thought do you give to what you're putting in your rubbish bin?
Most of us recycle everything we can, which is great, but we definitely need to do more. So what else can we do?
The easiest thing we can all do is consider what's actually in our rubbish bins. Unless you work in waste it's probably not something you lose too much sleep over, but believe me when I tell you it's fascinating!
In 2021, West Sussex County Council carried out a Waste Composition Analysis on rubbish bins across the county. That might sound complicated but it actually just means that a sample of rubbish was taken from each borough and district and separated out into different categories of waste. This provided us with an accurate snapshot of exactly what's in our bins and you might be surprised!
The average refuse bin in Adur and Worthing is made up of almost 40% food waste. What's truly shocking about this figure is that of that 40%, 28% could have been eaten. That's right, residents of Adur and Worthing are throwing away approximately 3,309 tonnes of perfectly edible food each year!
If you extrapolate that across the UK, it is estimated that 4.5 million tonnes of perfectly edible food waste - enough to fill 38 million wheelie bins or 90 Royal Albert Halls - is thrown away each year (Source: Love Food, Hate Waste).
What do we mean by edible food waste? We're not talking about chicken bones, teabags, peelings or eggshells but the extra rice or pasta you cooked but didn't use and the impulse purchases you didn't get round to eating before the use by date.
Photo: Community composting guide at Victoria Park, Worthing
The average family of four could save £60 a month just by reducing their food waste. It's not just the financial impact on your pockets though, if global food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US. Now, that really is food for thought!
There's lots of really great information available online to help you shop smarter, store food correctly to prevent it from spoiling and get portions right. Visit the Love Food, Hate Waste website for some really helpful information on reducing your environmental impact and saving money.
Also, don't forget that there are alternatives to the rubbish bin for much of your inedible food waste. You can compost at home using one of our discounted composters. And if you don't have a garden, you could join one of the existing community composting schemes or look at setting one up in your area:
- Victoria Gardens - Victoria Park, Worthing (website)
- Apron Community Garden - Buckingham Park, Shoreham (website)
Photo: The Apron Community Garden scheme in Buckingham Park, Shoreham
Hello, I am Catherine, the Waste Projects, Data and Education Officer at Adur & Worthing Councils and I will be blogging for the next few weeks to tell you a bit more about what we do in Waste Operations.
We're the only service that is used by every single resident across Adur and Worthing. Once-a-week our fleet of collection vehicles and experienced crew visit every single residential property in the borough to collect either your rubbish or recycling bin. When you consider we have approximately 82,000 households in Adur and Worthing, that's a lot of bins!
We also empty 1,120 litter bins, 578 dog waste bins, approximately 19,500 garden waste bins, provide a commercial waste collection service, clear fly tips, remove graffiti, investigate abandoned vehicles, provide a clinical waste collection service, clean streets and look after the car parks!
As part of providing these services we are also required to collate data on everything we collect and report it to central government. This can make for quite interesting reading.
For example, last year we collected 1,303 tonnes of litter across Adur and Worthing and 395 tonnes of dog waste. When you consider that the average double decker bus weighs 12 tonnes, that puts it into some perspective!
Waste and recycling - where does it go?
Once collected, your recycling heads off to our state-of-the-art Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Ford, where it is sorted into different material streams and then sent off to be reprocessed and used again. 80.6% of this is recycled within the UK.
You can book school and group visits to see the MRF in action, it's really worth a visit. Book here:
Your refuse is sent to a Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant (MBT) in Horsham. The process separates the waste into four types:
- Biodegradable waste, such as food waste
- Refuse derived fuel (RDF), such as paper, plastic, cardboard that wasn't suitable for recycling and textiles
- Inert materials, such as bricks, glass and rubble
Each waste type is then treated separately. Outputs from the processes include a compost-like material used in land and landfill restoration and biogas which is used to power the facility, with any excess exported to the national grid. At full capacity the biogas will produce around 4.5MW of energy - the equivalent power use of 10,000 homes.
Any inert materials, rejects and residues from the MBT process are sent for landfill disposal at the Redhill landfill site. This accounts for approximately 8%.
Even though we've made great strides in how we deal with waste and recycling, the best option for the environment is to reduce the amount we throw away in the first place. Much more on this in the coming weeks!
If you'd like to read more about what happens to your waste and recycling, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has lots of information:
Video: A day in the life of a refuse collector
Page last updated: 06 December 2022