An appeal is being made to festive shoppers as figures reveal the scale of Somerset’s cardboard culture.

The cardboard collected from the average Somerset home has increased by more than a third compared with pre-Covid levels, as more people than ever have been shopping online.

Nearly 16,800 tonnes were collected from county kerbsides in the 12 months up to the start of October, an average of 65kg per household compared to 47kg in 2019-20.

While Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) and its collections contractor Suez make sure this is recycled in the UK, producing it and collecting cardboard has a carbon cost that contributes to climate change.

The extra loads also put a strain on hardworking crews who have worked throughout the pandemic, coping with record levels of waste.

At the festive season nears, SWP is asking shoppers cut the card to help the planet and the Somerset economy.

* Buy gifts that don’t need boxes – vouchers for restaurants, attractions or pampering treatments; subscriptions for newspapers, magazines or streaming service; memberships for trusts or clubs;

* Go off-line – shop on the High Street and cut out the extra packaging that comes with online delivery;

* Shop online but local – high street retailers can deliver to thedoor and they tend to use less packaging than the big multi-nationals.

Mickey Green, SWP managing director, said: “The online offer is part and parcel of shopping today, but it doesn’t have to be the answer for everything.

“Gifting experiences rather than things helps cut the card while giving loved ones something to look forward to in 2022.

“Shop off-line and local and you can put a dent in the cardboard mountain that always comes immediately after Christmas, and you’ll be supporting local businesses and jobs at the same time.”

Larger pieces of cardboard can also be recycled at all 16 of Somerset’s recycling sites, which are open on their usual winter hours over the Christmas and New Year period, except for Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s Day.

Dulverton has one-off extra festive days open 9am to 5pm to help with post-Christmas waste.

Separating recycling at the kerb is the best way to make sure it gets properly recycled – and close to home. Last year 97.8 per cent of Somerset’s recycling stayed in the UK thanks to kerbside sorting. See for more detail.