Somerset’s new era of recycling has moved a step closer through an upgraded depot that will handled thousands of extra tonnes of material each year.

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) is just days away from the launch of Recycle More, its much-trumpeted changes to recycling which will see a wider range of items collected at the kerbside every week.

Mendip residents will be the first to receive the new service, with ‘bright blue bags’ being delivered to more than 51,000 residents across the district.

Now the depot which will handle all the additional recycling is up and running ahead of the roll-out officially beginning on October 26.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service was granted a tour on Thursday afternoon (October 15) of the upgraded Evercreech depot, located on the Evercreech Junction industrial estate off the busy A371.

The depot is designed to handle all the recycling collected from both Mendip (where collections will begin on October 26) and South Somerset (where collections will begin in June 2021).

Yeovil Express: The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.

SWP managing director Mickey Green said: “We’ve significantly expanded this depot and put in whole new sorting equipment.

“That’s so we can deal with all of the extra recycling that we’re expecting through Recycle More, and those extra materials that people will be able to recycle each week – the plastic pots, tubs and trays, the TetraPaks, the batteries and the small electrical items, as well as everything else they can already recycle.”

A total of 40 recycling trucks will operate from the depot – many of which have already been spotted on Somerset’s streets handling the existing weekly collections.

As part of Recycle More, refuse (black bin waste) collections will move from fortnightly to once every three weeks, meaning fewer refuse trucks will travel to and from the Evercreech depot.

Yeovil Express: The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.

The depot currently deals with around 28,000 tonnes of recycling per year – but this is expected to rise sharply as Recycle More is rolled out.

Mr Green said: “The whole point of this investment is that we can deal with more tonnage and cope with the extra materials.

“We always commit to keeping the materials as clean as possible – that’s what enables us to keep 90 per cent of it in the UK and recycle it properly.”

The roll-out of Recycle More was originally due to begin in June, but had to be postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Green said he was hopeful there would be no further delays in the roll-out, meaning all households would benefit from the new service by early-2022.

He said: “We don’t have a crystal ball, but we revised our roll-out schedule to reflect the impact that covid has had on all of us.

“We have done everything we possibly can to be as resilient as we can for the pressures we all face – so I’m as confident in that roll-out timetable as I can be, but it comes with a big caveat that none of us quite know what the world is going to throw at us at the moment.”

Yeovil Express: The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.

As the roll-out moves across the rest of Somerset, the SWP will be making similar improvements to its depots in Taunton, Bridgwater and Williton.

Mr Green said that staggering the roll-out over more than a year would ensure there was enough capacity to deliver the new service, and allow lessons to be learned with each new phase.

He said: “The whole point of that is to give us enough time to learn lessons, so we can put in the depot improvements that we need to while carrying on with the day job – and crucially so we can go out and give people the support to get through this change.

“We expect to learn lessons and make minor tweaks as we do learn.”

For more details on Recycle More, including a full list of items which can be recycled under the new scheme, visit www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/recycle-more.

Yeovil Express: The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.The upgraded SWP depot at Evercreech junction. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby.