Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Simplifying councils' household recycling collections in the government's resources and waste strategy

In the District Council's leader's end-of-year message says, things are looking good when it comes to recycling:


The East Devon District Council service most valued by our residents is probably our kerbside collection of waste and recycling from 69,400 properties. In 2018 we improved kerbside refuse and recycling to include a widely requested ‘green’ waste collection service.

Our enhanced kerbside recycling, which now includes cardboard, tins, mixed plastics and numerous other household items, coupled with a reduction in residual waste collection to three weekly, now means that East Devon recycles as much as 60% of it's household waste. We are leading the way in the protection of our environment, as the best performing council in Devon and one of the leading UK councils, already comfortably meeting EU targets set for 2030.

None of the residual waste collected from the kerbside is sent to landfill, rather it is used to generate energy.

Futures Forum: District Council annual message: "East Devon's many achievements over the last year"

This was reiterated at the full council meeting last week:

EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held at Knowle, Sidmouth, on Wednesday, 12 December 2018


In response, the Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Cllr Tom Wright, stated that EDDC had a great deal to be proud of in terms of its green credentials. The decision to have three-weekly rubbish collections had been a brave one not replicated by many other Councils, but it had worked. EDDC had very committed officers, strong leadership and an effective communications strategy. He referred to an article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper this week which stated that recycling rates nationally are reducing, but EDDC is bucking that trend and is one of the few councils to be increasing its recycling at an accelerating rate. Its achievements have been applauded and EDDC is regarded as an international green world ambassador winning several awards.

However, Cllr Wright acknowledged that there was more to do in relation to reducing waste in the first place. EDDC is consistently recycling about 60% of its waste, whilst other areas, such as Brighton & Hove have a rate of 30.4% and Exeter has one of 30% and reducing. Blackdown House meets high environmental standards and EDDC will continue to improve its contribution to the sustainability of the local environment.

EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held at Knowle, Sidmouth, on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 

It is indeed a problem of where to go beyond that 60% - with central government suggesting that 'the polluter pays':

Businesses and manufacturers in the UK will have to pay the full cost of recycling or disposing packaging waste under government’s new Resources and Waste Strategy, which was passed on December 18, 2018. This shows the challenges that even the developed countries are facing when it comes to plastic waste management.

But the government is also putting pressure on local authorities:

"Councils will need to consider renegotiation of existing waste contracts, to adapt them to the increased frequency of food waste collections, or look to put in place new arrangements. They will also no doubt seek to pass through these costs to businesses and the general public."

And there is going to be a push to greater standardisation between local authorities:

"The focus on whole-system changes is welcome including packaging reforms, consistency of councils’ household collections, and ways to increase investment in recycling infrastructure."

Gove launches landmark blueprint for resources and waste - GOV.UK

Certainly the packaging industry would like it:
A framework for greater consistency in household recycling in England - WRAP 

For example:

“What is certain is that despite all the hard efforts of packaging manufacturers to develop recyclable and biodegradable materials… the waste management infrastructure in the UK lags behind the rest of Europe,” said Macpac sales manager Simon Firth.

“There are 388 councils in the UK and around 50 different collection systems, with little uniformity when it comes to waste collection. There is confusion amongst the public when it comes to kerbside collection. Where is the sense in a local authority taking all plastics while another cherry picks?”

The government is hoping to address this by simplifying household recycling collections through the introduction of a consistent set of recyclable materials collected from all households and businesses, as well as consistent labelling on packaging so consumers know what can be recycled.

And there will have to be changes in how local authorities collect and deal with waste - particularly that old chestnut plastic:

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