A look back at the stories we covered in July, August and September
The first issue in July led with an exclusive survey showing community secretary Eric Pickles’ prolonged campaign to rid England of alternate weekly rubbish rounds looked set to end in failure.
Of 251 councils included in MRW’s joint analysis of bids to the £250m Weekly Collection Support Scheme with the askjennie.com website, just one (Stoke) said it wanted to move from alternate to weekly collections. Pickles’ department accused MRW of inadequate research but it was vindicated in a later survey (see September).
Waste minister Lord Taylor urged collaboration between local authorities and charities to help cut clothing sent to landfill, as the two groups tried to resolve a row about textile bring banks. Taylor told MRW that councils should decide their own arrangements for operating textile recycling services in their areas, but underlined the role of charities.
MRW also reported that police had begun drawing up plans to tackle a potentially sharp increase in the amount of scrap metal exported illegally. Deputy chief constable Paul Crowther said his officers were concerned that the development could follow the proposed radical shake-up of scrap metal laws.
July’s final issue focused on energy-from-waste (EfW) producers welcoming the Government’s announcement on renewable energy subsidies, although some key technologies lost out. EfW technologies attracted higher Renewables Obligation Certificate levels than the Government had proposed in its consultation document in October 2011.
MRW research revealed that paper and plastic prices had slumped to their lowest levels since 2008. Mixed paper and old corrugated card prices were down 45% on the year, with newsprint and periodicals and magazines also down 29%.
Later, MRW reported that falling recovered paper prices in the US during the previous month further ratcheted up the pressure on already embattled UK exporters.
They told MRW they faced an anxious wait in the coming fortnight as mills in China, the world’s biggest market, placed orders for September. If US exporters offered cheaper fibre, they said, UK and European exporters could face substantial costs.
September started with the sector anticipating Defra’s long-awaited draft of the MRF code of practice for consultation. It had previously been delayed so it could be rolled into a wider consultation on permitting regulations [and was still not public as MRW went to press].
Metals recyclers warned of confusion and poor enforcement after a cap on licence fees was dropped from the proposed new scrap dealer laws. The news came as the Home Office confirmed that a ban on cash in the scrap trade would come into force on 3 December.
September ended with further MRW research revealing councils had emphatically snubbed Pickles’ £250m “bribe” to return to weekly rubbish collections.
A second investigation by MRW and askjennie.com, based this time on all 326 English collection authorities, provided the most wide-ranging analysis to date of bids to the Weekly Collection Support Scheme.