The troubled Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) is being recommended not to back separate household collections because they cannot be considered economically practicable under the TEEP regulations.
A report to a meeting on 11 March of the councils which make up the partnership recommends sticking with two-stream collections because of current market and regulatory conditions.
It was written by director Steve Burdis who is currently suspended because of allegations of mismanagement at the seven-council partnership.
Dorset County Council launched an independently led investigation when concerns were raised about the DWP’s £2.8m overspend, including more than £1m for hire vehicles associated with the roll-out of improved recycling services.
Burdis prepared the report on collections because of the legal requirement on authorities, under the 2012 Waste Regulations, to collect recyclable materials separately unless it is not technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) to do so.
He argues that it is both technically practicable, since it has already been operated across areas of Dorset, and environmentally practicable, since research indicated that kerbside sort would deliver a 23.9% increase in carbon savings compared with two-stream collection.
But the DWP is being told that the appraisal “raises significant doubts regarding whether separate collection is economically practicable”.
Burdis’ report adds: “It must be noted that, in terms of the law, ‘economically practicable’ does not mean the cheapest option. It must be viewed in the context that the cost is not excessive or disproportionate to the benefits.”
The analysis has reported that, under the assumption that current material prices continue to be achieved, separate collection would be 8% more expensive than the current baseline service.
Burdis says separate collection requires an investment in extra staff and vehicles to be offset by increased material incomes to make it economically competitive with the baseline service – and this would expose the DWP to greater financial risk in the event of a downturn in the secondary materials market.
“A 10% downturn in material prices across the board would make separate collection 9.3% more expensive than two-stream collections. Therefore separate collection would only be economically practicable if the DWP was able to afford an increase in expenditure and was able to accept the economic risk of greater dependency on the materials markets,” he says.
Following the TEEP evaluation, members of the DWP’s joint committee are being recommended to make no change to the kerbside collection scheme but to keep the position under review, especially when any major changes are proposed.