Until such time as the Government can secure an industry-wide, collaborative approach to reducing the amount of material having an impact on the environment, it falls on local councils to come up with ways to collect and dispose of the current waste. This is why we are consulting and it has been great to see so many people filling out our online survey and good to see people taking part in the debate.

With this strategy we have a great opportunity to consider how we improve Swindon’s recycling rate. It will be important we start to recycle more of materials such as steel and aluminium cans, glass, cardboard and paper and shoes and textiles. There are also some big decisions to be made around food waste because it accounts for nearly a quarter of all waste produced.

How we deal with plastics is another part of the proposals we have put forward. We are advocating that we temporarily suspend the separate collections of plastics which sees our plastics sent abroad and instead process them in our Solid Recovered Fuel plant which is unique to Swindon and recovers energy from the waste.

Whilst recovering energy from waste is not as environmentally beneficial as recycling, it is a much better option than landfill which poses even more significant environmental problems. The fuel created by our plant is sent to EU licenced sites that follow strict emission controls. Also our fuel is directly replacing the use of coal, reducing the environmental impact of mining and burning this fossil fuel, so it is far from the highly polluting option some may have you believe.

Swindon’s plastics, like other UK plastics, have been sent abroad to various different countries, some of which have been highlighted by the National Audit Office and UN as being poor at managing plastic waste. The quality of the plastic we collect means it is difficult to separate the different types of plastics and therefore a proportion of our plastic will not be recycled. We believe that any risk of even a small amount of Swindon’s plastics ending up in overseas landfill or worse is not acceptable, and with our proposal we will know exactly how our plastic is processed and where it ends up.

The best way to solve our plastics problem is to stop using them in the first place. It is a message I hear constantly and we are expecting government to introduce new laws in the near future to reduce the use of single use plastics which will hopefully mean we ultimately have less plastic to collect. We have already pledged as a council to phase out single use plastics on our premises.

I know I will be trying wherever I can that I will stop using plastics and I would urge you to do the same. If you haven’t filled out questionnaire yet you can do so at sustainableswindon.co.uk.