Residents shovelled up 12 tonnes of free compost – as part of an effort to get more people recycling.

The offer saw a huge mound of compost deposited at Clements Hall Sports Centre, Hawkwell, last Friday morning.

The compost is produced from the recycled green waste of residents in Essex, and was distributed in an initiative by Essex County Council and Rochford District Council.

The aim is to encourage everyone to recycle their food and garden waste – and to give them something back for their efforts.

The recycle for Rochford Team was on hand to answer any compost and recycling questions, and distribute free food waste caddies and composters.

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Councillor Keith Gordon, said: “People like the fact it’s coming from their own recycling bins, that they’ve made the effort to separate their waste and they can now feel the benefit of it.

“As Rochford is the best authority in the whole of England for recycling it’s important that we keep this title, and encourage residents to help us recycle as much as we can.”

Bea Cook, from Hockley, took her great-nephews Max, 11, and Ozz, four, along and was glad of the offer.

She said: “We live just nearby and Max wanted some compost because he’s got some carrots to grow, he’s done some gardening for me before.”