21 Jul 2008

Glos waste discussed

kerbside waste
I had all sorts of plans about writing up a very comprehensive summary of the Waste Advisory Panel meeting at the District Council last week - I was one of the two Greens represented on the all-party panel to look at what will happen to our waste - however time is catching up on me so here will only be the highlights - minutes will probably be available - and I am more than happy to discuss if anyone has specific queries.

Photo: above the waste from a family who are trying to go zero - this pic was taken from their Zero Waste website - see more at end of this blog about that site

One of the key purposes of the meeting was to set the scene and to participate in a consultation process by consultants of Glos County Council looking at approaches to waste. There was much useful discussion but I have to say that there were several areas of deep concern;

1. Parishes missed from consultation: the Parishes who had expressed an interest in waste - interestingly the 5 closest to the proposed Javelin Park site - had submitted papers but for some reason were not invited to a consultation - this seems very strange indeed - I have asked for more info making the point that if there was not a good reason such a move would be shocking and add to the doubt in many people's minds that the decision has already in effect been made and that the consultation process is not real.
2. Categories within the consultation: part of the process was to rate aspects like cost and flexibility but the seemingly arbitrary ways that categories were lumped together made assessment very difficult - hence the process starts to loose any real meaning.
3. Meaning of categories: worse still you could look at an issue like cost and assume it means all costs - but no wait - it is much more complex - stuff like transporting all the waste to one site in Glos rather than several local sites is not included!! This means rising oil prices in this case are just not taken into account. There were other similar examples.
4. Climate change: most shameful of all was the lack of a specific category considering climate change - how is this possible? I made the strongest point possible on this and was somewhat reassured that other consultations so far had also had this issue raised.

Anyhow while I came out unhappy with the way the consultation was organised - I do accept it is an enormously difficult thing to do - and at least the County is trying - and I still want to believe that this is a genuine consultation - and I do at least have confidence in those doing the consultation to take back the concerns that we raised. I've discussed this issue of waste lots previously on this blog - see here for a look at some of the key issues or click on labels below.

At the moment a third of households in Stroud District do not recycle - it is clear that unless things improve then all taxpayers will have to foot the ever-increasing bill - as I said at the meeting it is very disappointing that the County did not have some urgency on this issue some years ago - we then would not be in such a mess. It is going to take some brave moves if we are to do the right thing for ourselves and future generations and not go for one large incinerator at Javelin Park - to do that really would be the wrong decision.

Kamikatsu - 34 categories

One example of good practice that got a mention was Kamikatsu, a small community in the hills of eastern Japan, which is leading on "Zero Waste". Residents there now have to compost all their food waste and sort other rubbish into 34 different categories! See Kamikatsu covered by the BBC here - infact there are no waste collections from households at all. Kitchen waste has to be composted. Non-food waste is processed either in local shops which accept goods for recycling or in Kamikatsu's Zero Waste Centre. There, people have to sort their unwanted items into 34 different boxes for recycling. The scheme was adopted when councillors realised it was much cheaper than incineration - even if the incinerator was used to generate power.

Infact zero waste is now the aim of quite a number of companies and indeed countries like New Zealand - why not for Glos? And they are not using 34 categories! There are many different ways to work towards zero waste. I recently came across this blog of a family doing their bit - well worth a look - indeed inspiring and ordinary stuff -= just what we need:


Merci said...

There is no question that we must all do more recycling and it is disappointing that a third of households in Stroud District still aren't participating.

Part of the problem, I feel, is that, if it's to be done properly, recycling boxes can take up a lot of space in homes/gardens that may already be cramped.

We need more recycling points, and/or weekly collection of domestic recycling boxes. Cardboard is a bugbear; it isn't collected from our homes and locating a cardboard-recycling point is like looking for a needle in a haystack! Why is this?

Another question that occurs to me is: are developers of new homes being encouraged to come up with schemes that incorporate recycling facilities as a fundamental feature of each new home?

Philip Booth said...

Cardboard still not happening - some good reasons and some not so good - they are still looking at a potential scheme that will allow them to expand the cardboard bank service. At present, they are experiencing problems with existing banks; residents flytipping around them - not bothering to fill them up; traders using them at will illegally etc. These issues create operational problems that necessitate significant resources being diverted from normal duties such as cleaning streets, to deal with the problem. One of their ways forward they are trying is to work with local residents (volunteers) who are happy to help monitor the banks and undertake to clear excess cardboard from the ground (from users not bothering to post the card into the banks). Several Parish Council's have been approached to see if they can engage in a trial. Hopefully more info soon as this District is slipping way behind in terms of cardboard recycling - indeed this all seems a little weak! Apparently green box collection of cardboard is v difficult and doesn't make alot of sense - although I am looking at that - as you say we need more collection points.

Where schemes work education/ publicity etc is what is needed - people who don't recycle need to know they are costing the rest of us money - and soon that will be big money. SDC need to be putting more resources into this but at the moment are saying their successful Stanleys trial is too expensive - I fear what they really mean is we will need the money for the canal? There will need to be a serious look at priorities.

As for new developments - yes it has been raised and on larger projects it seems to happen but not all - I will chase up to see what is happening as it should be policy.