Photo: Randwick woods
Councils recycling chart
See Stroud now in the bottom 25 recyclers in 357 Councils: www.gmb.org.uk/default.aspx?page=1636
Well to be fair the chart isn't fair but more of that in a moment. Landfill Tax is designed to encourage recycling and as most know it is due to rise very sharply over the next four years from the current £48 per tonne to £80 per tonne by 2014 (i). Recycling has to be the order of the day.
Looking at the charts it shows Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has the best record for recycling in England with 61.8% of household waste sent for re-use, recycling, or composting. Next in the English league is South Oxfordshire 61.4%, followed by Rochford (Essex) 61.2% and Cotswold 60.4%. 38 councils recycle half or more of their household waste while 4 councils recycle more than 55%. These figures are from an analysis by GMB, public services union which represents refuse staff of the official household waste figures for 357 collection and disposal authorities in England.
Impact of Spending Review
The assumptions made for the PFI funding were for a ridiculously small 60% recycling and waste production at the current levels until 2050!!! Outrageous! These conditions are very unlikely to be stable over 25 years and already UK local authorities are already achieving recycling rates of 70%.
As Greens have said all along what is required is a series of local, small-scale flexible solutions which drive the recycling industry, provide the lowest environmental impact and the best long-term economic return. Not a monster incinerator that will need feeding - an incinerator would be a complete white elephant as waste volumes are now falling. But more importantly, with in excess of 60% recycling already being achieved by some UK councils, there are more benign ways of dealing with the remaining waste.
County questions answered
A while back the County asked a series of questions to which Greens responded with a paper of alternative ways forward. I enclose below as they give more info about the direction we want to see...
We enclosed a more detailed report that concluded: "We believe that what we have suggested, and other enhancements not discussed for reasons of brevity, should take Gloucestershire’s recycling rates comfortable over 70% by 2020 in a cost effective manner, and if other actions take place, particularly at the national level, we could be approaching 90% by 2030 BUT the national actions described above would be required to achieve this."
Why are we so low in charts?
Well it would be easy to have a go at the Tories at the District Council for failing - and indeed they do deserve some strong criticisms, but, as is often the case, the picture is much more complex. One of the biggest sticking points is the contract with Veolia. It is apparently cheap - and Veolia don't seem to want to renegotiate to include for example food waste, without increasing charges lots. So the Council has dropped back down the charts from being one of the best to one of the worst.
Food waste in landfills is a particularly significant source of greenhouse gases and makes up a significant part of our waste. Most choose not to compost this waste and even where there are high levels of composting there are concerns re meat, fish etc. There was a hugely successful food waste trial in the Stanleys where food waste was collected - but it could not be rolled out due to costs. Why was the trial even trialled when the estimated costs must have been known?
However the news is that there are hopes for a renegotiated contract...we'll see. One other positive development is the decision by Stroud District Council to use Stroud’s food waste for anaerobic digestion, a technology long advocated by the Green Party. As reported on this blog this could be a way of heating the Stratford Park leisure centre and swimming pools in an environmentally benign way by using something that is currently discarded. The District now need to persuade the County to run with them on this.
Another reason for Stroud's failure in the recycling charts is that we don't collect some key items. Greens have long advocated expanding kerbside recycling as well as mechanical processing to sort remaining recyclable materials from our black rubbish bags. There are now ways for dealing with the residual waste in a way that avoid landfill altogether - ie what remains after recycling which hopefully as we note can reach 70% by 2020 and onto 90% by 2030. For example new variants of a technology called gasification turn waste into a gas which can either be used to produce power and heat, or can now be chemically “cracked” to make chemicals and fuels. Any ash is vitrified into inert, glass-like blocks which can be used as hardcore or road base. There are also new technologies that I am only just beginning to understand like syngas process outputs that can be catalysed into ethanol and thence to other chemicals, or fuels such as jet fuel, or used in a gas engine.
Anyway I am off on a bit of a ramble. Another key reason for our figures being low is something I have mentioned before on this blog - green waste - we don't collect it. Councils that do like Cotswolds can rapidly increase their recycling rates but equally so do their waste rates go up. Green waste is an easy way to add massively to your figures and make you look good - but is far from being green. Stroud is absolutely right not to do a general green waste collection - sure for certain houses or groups of people but green waste is best composted on site.
Hey I have not yet mentioned the zero waste family in the Forest - their blog is well worth a look and has had a fair few mentions on this blog: http://myzerowaste.com/
There is lots more I would like to write but have run out of puff for now - but I must also mention that nationally we have failed dismally to create a market for recycled goods - in other countries they have helped establish paper, plastic etc recycling etc - we are still known as the 'dirty man' of Europe. Worse still we have failed to tackle the big companies to cut their packaging - Germany had a tax on it and cut it by I think 17%...but that is another blog....
In short District and County Councils could be doing much better. It is utterly shameful that no waste plan has been put in place by the County already - they have known about landfill charges for years and done what appears to be nothing. Anyway Stroud District Green Party will be keeping the pressure up for a sustainable solution for our waste.
(i) Landfill tax – Landfill Tax is a tax on the disposal of waste. It aims to encourage waste producers to produce less waste, recover more value from waste, for example through recycling or composting and to use more environmentally friendly methods of waste disposal. Rates for each year: The standard rate is £48 per tonne from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011 and will increase to: £56 per tonne on 1 April 2011, £64 per tonne on 1 April 2012, £72 per tonne on 1 April 2013 and £80 per tonne on 1 April 2014.