WITH bin collections running later due to Christmas, households across Somerset have found themselves trying to get rid of a lot of extra waste.

While most items can be taken to one of the county's recycling centres - which are now open as usual - the one thing they won't accept is food waste. And many of us have a lot more at that after Christmas.

So what do you do if your food waste bin is full?

Here are some helpful tips from the Somerset Waste Partnership...

  • See if any of the food – such as leftover vegetables or meat - could be immediately turned into a new meal or meals for their family. A good source of advice on meals from leftovers is lovefoodhatewaste.com.
  • Investigate if there is space in their fridge or freezer for food that could be eaten to be stored as it is, or consider cooking and freezing the resulting meals. The site hubbub.org.uk has useful ideas about food storage.

Somerset Waste Partnership’s website at www.somersetwaste.gov.uk is a good first stop for information on all aspects of food waste, composting and recycling, and easy hints about how to plan meals and cook perfect portions to avoid food waste.

If there is still too much food for the lockable food waste bin and the kitchen caddy:

  • Some residents have suggested that the best way to deal with excess food waste at home is to store it in a compostable food bin liner and then freeze it until it can be put out for collection.
  • Ask if they can add it to the food waste bin of a neighbour or nearby family member.
  • Excess food waste in a compostable food bin liner or carefully wrapped in newspaper – the County Gazette is excellent for this purpose (their words, not ours, but do make sure you buy a copy - Ed.) – can be put out for collection in a covered bucket or similar container next to the food waste bin, ideally labelled so the crew knows to collect it. But residents will need to be careful this does not attract unwanted attention from pets or wildlife. Freezing it first can help this.
  • If there are no other options, food waste – frozen or otherwise – can be carefully double bagged and either added to the household rubbish just prior to collection or added to the “cannot be recycled here” skip at any recycling site.
  • Food waste, whatever the bag or container it is in, should not be added to recycling boxes because of the risk of contaminating other materials and attracting animal attention.

Anyone with a food waste problem should contact their district council customer services – all details at www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/contact - who can also supply them with a free extra lockable food waste bin if excess food is likely to be a repeated problem.