Reducing waste

We work in partnership with the 12 district and borough councils in Kent, to find the most sustainable solution to dispose of Kent’s household waste.

The waste hierarchy prioritises the options for managing waste in terms of what is best for the environment. The different options (in order of preference) are listed below along with some of the ways you can help:

The best way to reduce waste is to avoid it altogether. Here are some of the things you may be able to do differently to avoid or reduce waste.

  • Avoid using disposable bags when shopping by taking a reusable bag with you.
  • Contact a charity to donate your unused or unwanted goods to avoid throwing them away.
  • Stop unwanted junk mail by cancelling any unwanted subscriptions and enrolling in the Mailing Preference Service.
  • Avoid individually wrapped items and snack packs, buy in bigger sizes which have less wrapping and use less material.
  • Buy laundry detergent and home cleaning products in more concentrated formulas to avoid unnecessary packaging.
  • Compost food and garden waste.
  • Buy recycled and biodegradable items where possible.
  • Avoid using single use plastic bottles for water, use a reusable bottle.
  • Contact or join a clothing swap to avoid having to dispose of clothing.

You can reduce waste by reusing items you would otherwise throw away. Here are some ideas.

  • Reuse your old envelopes by sticking a label over the old address.
  • Pots and jars can be reused for storage for odds and ends or used as tea light holders or drinks containers.
  • Carrier bags can be reused when shopping.
  • Tin foil, plastic bottles and cardboard packaging can be reused for arts and crafts for children.
  • Electrical items can be donated or sold online.*
  • Newspaper and cardboard boxes might be useful if you are planning a move to a new home.
  • Paint wooden furniture to give it a new look e.g. wardrobes, chest of drawers, tables and chairs.
  • Old bikes could be refurbished by a specific charity which often provide employment and training opportunities to disadvantaged communities and affordable bikes for resale into communities or developing countries.
  • Your broken garden machinery or tools could be used as spare parts to fix other items.

*Any electrical item you donate or sell online should be Portable Appliance Tested (PAT) to ensure it's safe for others to use.

There are also websites and local shops where you can place an advert to either sell your items or give them away for free.

Recycling can be a great way to reduce waste. Here are some of the ways you can recycle.

  • Reuse old wood for DIY projects such as garden planters or new furniture.
  • Old clothes and materials can be made into cushions, pillowcases, etc.
  • Recycle items using your kerbside recycling bins. Contact your local district or borough council to see what services they offer. This waste will then get processed and used in the manufacturing of new products.
  • Compost garden and food waste or if you're not able to compost at home, your local district or borough council may provide a collection service. Once composted the material is then used on farmers fields to support the growth of crops.
  • Recycle items at our Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) across the county.
  • Find recycling points in your area that accept materials not yet recycled through your kerbside collection or at HWRCs e.g. carrier bags, coffee pods and cat food pouches.
  • Use recycling litter bins when ‘eating on the go’ wherever possible.

Fly tipping and littering should be reported to your local district or borough council who will investigate incidents and issue fines or sentences as appropriate.

Find out more about how we recycle plastics and food waste in Kent.

Non-recyclable waste put into your domestic kerbside collection bin is sent to the Allington Waste to Energy Plant in Maidstone. The waste is incinerated to generate up to 37 megawatts of electricity, which is sent to the National Grid and fed into the local supply network. This provides enough energy to power the domestic properties in Maidstone, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks, 365 days a year.

Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is a fuel produced by sorting and processing various types of bulky/solid general wastes including waste produced from households. It comprises of a variety of materials such as large children’s plastic toys, plastic furniture, wood, carpets and mattresses.

KCC Waste Management sends household bulky waste collected at the HWRCs to our Providers for processing into RDF. Specialist machinery shreds the solid wastes (non-combustible materials including glass and metals are removed or segregated prior to the process) these are then made into bales that are wrapped to meet strict rules for transport and disposal at Waste Incinerators in Europe and soon to new facilities in the UK. These facilities are also combined heat and power plants that utilise heat generated from RDF for use in local areas for heating.

Refuse Derived Fuel is a renewable energy source that ensures waste simply isn’t thrown into a landfill and instead, put to good use.

The treatment of waste includes anaerobic digestion, gasification and pyrolysis which produce energy (fuels, heat and power) and materials from waste.

Road sweepings are recycled and re-used mainly for aggregate in the construction industry.

Sending waste to landfill is our least favoured option and is only used as a last resort for materials that cannot be disposed of any other way e.g. asbestos which cannot be recycled or treated.

99%

of Kent's waste was recycled or recovered for energy in 2017/18.