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RWM review

Seminar highlights

Looking to 2050

Defra deputy director of waste strategy Diana Linskey told RWM visitors that the forthcoming review of waste policy could set direction as far ahead as 2050. Speaking at a seminar session on the first day of RWM, Linskey said: “The EU sets us landfill targets for 2020, the question we need to work through in the waste review, is do ministers have greater ambition than that? Where do we want to go towards zero landfill? Can we set a direction for 2030, possibly 2050 so that people understand where this Government wants to be?”

She added that a possible criticism of the 2007 Waste Strategy of the previous administration is that “it didn’t set a long enough time horizon for the goals it had set”.

London’s complicated waste issue

Chair of the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWaRB) James Cleverly told visitors London’s waste issue was a “big and complicated problem”. He described the situation facing LWaRB as it tries to help London create enough appropriate infrastructure for dealing with its waste and emphasised that it was necessary for London to do something to drive up its recycling rates because it is lagging behind many other world cities.

Recoupling of waste arisings and GDP

WRAP head of market knowledge Liz Dixon Smith said household waste arisings fell by 6% in 2009, the same amount the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) decreased over the same period - seeming to show a recoupling of the two issues.

She said that trends over recent years show there has been a decoupling between waste arisings and economic growth. But when the recession hit there seemed to have been a recoupling of the two issues, as both fell by 6% in 2009.

Revisiting the quality debate

The quality of materials is a “relative concept” that we should think of from both ends of the spectrum, SCA Recycling managing director Ken Stevens said in his seminar session.

Explaining why materials recycling facilities (MRFs) have a role to play in the UK’s waste management infrastructure, Stevens analysed the true definition of quality. He said: “Quality is a question of degree, it is not necessarily a finite thing. The quality of something depends upon a set of characteristics and a set of requirements.”

Stevens believes that the whole chain of participants in the recycling industry have different sets of requirements, which should be clearly understood by one-another in each step. Indeed, the key to the future success of UK MRFs is a comprehensive “education package” delivered across the whole of the chain from packaging designer right through to the reprocessor and back to the retailer and householder.

Collectives key

Collective Waste Contracts (CWCs) could help share the cost of commercial waste recycling, an LRS senior consultant told RWM visitors.

Speaking at a seminar on working through Business Improvement  Districts (BIDs) to increase recycling rates, Sarah Griffiths said that CWCs could also help with the redefinition of municipal waste, which will arrive with the EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD) in December.

Griffiths said: “It may be a good way of sharing the cost burden – one of the issues at the moment is if the definition of municipal waste is changing, are the local authorities just expected to accept that financial burden, how is that cost going to be shared?

“But working in partnership with BID or similar types of organisations, like town centre management organisations or chambers of commerce it’s a way of sharing that cost and it’s a way of businesses working with their community.”

EfW technology choice a complicated decision says Tesco

Supermarket giant Tesco has said that choosing which energy from waste (EfW) technology to implement is a “complicated decision”. Tesco renewables programme manager Jake Ronay explained the challenges facing the retailer when it comes to deciding on the most appropriate way to deal with EfW. While the supermarket has made several commitments to carbon reduction and waste minimisation, EfW is a new area which the supermarket chain is yet to move into.

 “We have been looking into lots of different options but there are many, many different things we need to consider such as what type of waste we should be looking to use for energy generation, how far along our supply chain we should be looking to use it, where it would be best to locate a plant, what type of technology we should use and also, what impact government legislation, such as the RHI [Renewable Heat Incentive], will have on EfW going forward,” he said.

Big Interview Live

Generating energy from waste (EfW) through incineration is likely to “freeze” residual waste arisings, according to Friends of the Earth (FOE) senior campaigner Michael Warhurst.

Speaking to MRW editor Paul Sanderson as part of the Big Interview Live at RWM exhibition, Warhurst explained that in order to ensure there is an adequate supply of feedstock for incineration, residual waste arisings will have to be frozen, meaning there will then be no incentive for local authorities to focus on reducing residual waste.

Meanwhile recycling incentive scheme Recyclebank revealed to MRW editor Paul Sanderson that it could be set to launch waste minimisation incentive schemes in the UK, following the launch of a similar scheme in Philadelphia, US, in August.

Joining Igoe for the interview was Veolia Environmental Services deputy director Paul Levett, who spoke about the success of the partnership between Veolia and Recyclebank in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. He said that when pitching to local authorities for new contracts, Veolia would always mention its partnership with Recyclebank, given how well the scheme has gone down in Windsor & Maidenhead.

Viridor launches CSR report

Waste management firm Viridor launched its latest CSR report at the exhibition. It revealed both “the good and the bad” as external affairs director Dan Cooke said the company was trying to be “as transparent as possible”.

Factors the report highlighted included the following:

-Despite difficult trading conditions and debt markets, Viridor’s business model is proving economically sustainable with profit before tax growing 34.8% from £40.8m to £55.4m

-Continued investment in new facilities undertaking total capital expenditure of £46.6m (of which £15.2m was in recycling and £3.9m in renewable energy) and acquisitions of £14.8m

-Increase in waste recovered for recycling of 8% to a total of 1.9 million tonnes and landfill gas energy generation increased by 10%

-Conclusion that continued investment in recycling and renewable energy is in the long term best interest of the company

-Acknowledgement that the company’s RIDDOR accident statistics are too high. Its reportable accident and incident rate per 100,000 employees rose to 2445 in 2009 (from 1505 in 2008). This was mainly due to manual handling injuries and slips, trips and falls, which the company said could be accounted for by its acquisition and expansion activity. Chief executive Colin Drummond said it was “redoubling” its efforts in this area, focussing particularly on the underlying cause of accidents and effective promotion of safety and good practice in the workplace. Its proposed targets for 2010/11 include achieving a 10% reduction in the three year rolling RIDDOR incidents, working towards an overall aim of zero accidents in the workplace

Highlights of the year included:

-Record percentage of corporate responsibility targets achieved

-Power generation capacity increased by 27.5MW and two additional EfW facilities incorporated

-1.9m tones of material recovered/recycled and six major recycling-led contracts secured or started

-The Greater Manchester  waste PFI contract becoming operational


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