REDUCING the amount of waste going to landfill sites is vital in the ongoing battle to prevent damage caused to the environment.
100 million tonnes of waste are produced each year in England and Wales, with about 83,000 tonnes of that coming from Wrexham.
Waste taken to landfill sites produces methane gas over a period of time, which damages the ozone layer and ultimately harms the environment.
The Welsh Assembly Government's National Waste Strategy has set out to drastically reduce the amount of waste, which can only be achieved if Welsh households recycle waste products.
Wrexham currently has 24,000 households taking part in the Recycle With Michael scheme. By the year 2010, Wrexham County Borough Council must have a recycling rate of at least 40%, or it will face fines from the Welsh Assembly.
The Recycle With Michael scheme has significantly reduced the amounts going to landfill and it is hoped that eventually all households in Wrexham will be included in the scheme. Wrexham County Borough Council is aiming to include between 6,000 and 12,000 more households by the next financial year.
The scheme works by collecting recyclable waste such as plastic, glass, paper and cans once a week from households on the scheme.
Green waste such as grass cuttings and hedge trimmings are taken once every fortnight and rotated with household rubbish that cannot be recycled.
Households on the scheme are provided with green plastic bins for the recyclable waste, and a wheelie bin for green waste. Additional bins can be requested if people find that they have more recycling than they can fit into one bin.
On collection days bin men pick up the boxes and sort the recyclable items inside. They separate the waste into glass, plastic, paper and cans, and place it by hand into the appropriate slot on the side of the refuse collection vans.
The bin men cover 1,200 houses a day, starting their rounds at 7.30am and finishing at around 3pm, but their job is sometimes made harder when members of the public don't follow the recycling guidelines.
Mike Jones, who drives one of the refuse vans, said: 'There is some annoyance when people put the wrong things in the boxes and I'm always knocking on doors because people are putting recycling into carrier bags and bin liners. If they have too much, they can phone the Recycling Line and request another green box.'
Nick Price, recycling officer at Wrexham County Borough Council, added: 'Sometimes things like plant pots and garden furniture can find its way into the green waste bins. If just one green waste bin is contaminated, it stops the whole wagon load from being composted, and it then has to be taken to landfill.'
The organic waste from households on the scheme is taken to a composting site in Mickle Trafford. Wrexham County Borough Council has passed on some of this compost in its Great Compost Giveaways to demonstrate the usefulness of the end product of green waste.
At the end of the bin rounds the recyclable materials are taken to the depot in Wrexham Industrial Estate, where they are separated into bays of plastic, paper, glass and cans. Plastic is then compressed into bales, and eventually finds its way to China, where it is made into recycled plastic products.
The waste paper is taken to Shotton Paper in Deeside, where it can be turned around into recycled paper in as little as seven days.
Glass and cans go to other appropriate recycing companies.
The council is charged £17 per tonne of rubbish that goes to the landfill site, on top of what the landfill operator charges. And with the damage to the environment caused by waste deposited at landfill sites, local authorities and in turn consumers have no choice but to recycle wherever possible.
Nick Price said: 'We all need to take responsibility for our own rubbish. It is important to get people to think about waste awareness and recycling.'