This week we launched a six-week engagement process to gather your views on the Council’s new draft Waste Strategy, which will seek to inform how we deal with the Borough’s waste and recycling over the next 10 years.

This is a big deal because it affects every single household in the Borough. With new recycling targets due to come into force in less than two years’ time we know we need to up our game in terms of the amount of the waste that we recycle.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be launching a big campaign to encourage people to recycle more and I would just ask that you have a look at what waste you currently put in the wheelie bin and consider whether any of it could be recycled instead.

Recycling is a major part of the proposed Waste Strategy but it is not the only element. One of the measures which we are keen to hear residents’ views on is a temporary proposal to use the Council’s Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) plant to turn Swindon’s plastics into fuel.

At the moment there is no market in the UK for the low grade plastics that we collect at the kerbside, while you may have seen stories in the news about China refusing to accept plastic waste and how some of this plastic waste is finding its way into the environment. We know that our plastics are dealt with properly up to a point, but there is always a risk it may ultimately not be recycled or disposed of in the right manner further down the chain, as highlighted in a recent a National Audit Office report on the UK’s plastic waste.

We are therefore lucky to have an SRF plant in Swindon. In fact it is the only one in the UK which turns household waste into fuel. The plant uses a special process to dry out the waste which is then used as fuel in cement factories across Europe, replacing fossil fuels such as coal and therefore reducing the use of fossil fuels more widely.

I have heard claims this week that by including our plastics in our general waste and using it for fuel in this way we are effectively sending the plastics to be burned. Technically this is correct, but what has not been explained is that we know all the plants that our fuel is sent to and all conform to strict EU guidelines on emissions, with technology that filters out any harmful by-products and reduces emissions to a minimum. I think it is more environmentally friendly to use our waste in this way to replace fossil fuels then it is to bury it, which produces harmful methane, or have it potentially floating somewhere in the sea in Asia.

By processing our plastics with our general waste we would take control of where our plastics end up whilst looking to take advantage of new and innovative technologies in the future.

We are very keen to hear your views on the Waste Strategy so please visit and take the short online survey to have your say on how we manage your waste and recycling in the most cost effective, efficient and environmentally-sustainable way.