RESIDENTS who may have to wait up to three weeks for used nappies, wet wipes and other sanitary products to be collected from their homes are to be offered extra waste sacks and re-usable nappy kits.

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) will begin rolling out its Recycle More programme across the county in June.

Collections of non-recyclable refuse from black bins will reduce in frequency - to once every three weeks - while at the same time, households will be able to leave more recyclable items out for weekly collections.

The Partnership is working to encourage households to use more reusable or recyclable items – including switching from disposable nappies to cloth ones.

And in a bid to encourage the transition, up to £10,000 will also be spent on “nappy kits”, designed to give parents examples of the different, more sustainable nappies on the market.

Mendip residents will be the first to see the changes to waste collections and in a bid to keep disruption to a minimum, households will be able to request additional waste collection sacks for a limited time.

Residents are also being encouraged to dispose of more food waste in dedicated food waste bins – currently, large volumes of food waste are placed with general refuse and unecessarily sent to landfill.

In a report published ahead of a meeting of the Somerset Waste Board in Taunton on Friday (February 14), SWP managing director Mickey Green said the Recycle More roll-out would incorporate lessons learned by East Devon District Council when it switched to three-weekly waste collections.

He wrote: “The decision to allow extra rubbish capacity will depend upon how many people are in a household.

“Stickers will be provided for one extra sack per child where it is necessary.

“Evidence from our trial and elsewhere suggests that most people, if supported to recycle properly, will cope with this.

“However, if a resident is still struggling then an officer will visit them or see if they need more support – such as a larger or additional bin, or more authorised additional waste stickers.”

The SWP has been working with “local nappy groups” to ensure parents who currently buy disposable nappies can get access to cloth nappies at a low cost.

Cloth nappies tend to be more affordable in the long run than disposable ones, but often are more expensive as an up-front cost.

The Somerset Waste Board has allocated up to £10,000 for “nappy kits”, which contain a number of different types of nappy for people to try, in the hope they then switch to buying the alternative which suits them best.

Mr Green said the kits had been used by other local authorities and had resulted in more people making a permanent move to reusable items than giving a discount on a purchase.

He added similar kits could be produced for other hygiene products, such as period pads, baby wipes and incontinence pads.

“If parents feel they need more rubbish space, we discuss this with them and issue enough stickers to cover whatever is a suitable period of time," a SWP spokesperson added.

“Arranging special extra collections would have a cost far greater than the current standard fortnightly rubbish collection.

“Those in flat blocks use communal collections. If a flat block needs additional capacity, we will find a suitable solution.”

SWP rejected the suggestion it may penalise low-income families by asking them to move away from disposable nappies.

“No-one is being penalised. No-one is being forced to use expensive options," they said.

“We will continue to collect disposable nappies and people can request more space if needed.

“Reusable nappies can actually save money, and as part of Recycle More we will be expanding our support for ‘nappy library’ groups, which encourage and make it easier for parents to make use of reusable nappy products.”