The creation of suitable infrastructure will help the Government to enforce potential landfill bans on various waste streams, say waste industry stakeholders.
Speaking to MRW, Packaging Federation chief executive Dick Searle said: Anything that can be sensibly recycled should be banned from landfill. But for a landfill ban to work, the proper infrastructure will need to be in place to deal with it.
His comments come after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Assembly Government published a Consultation on the introduction of restrictions on the landfilling of certain wastes (18 March). They launched the consultation with the prospect of introducing landfill restrictions or bans on nine waste streams including paper and card, textiles, metals, wood, food, glass and plastics.
Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation executive director Rick Hindley said: We support the landfill ban idea in principle. But we believe in the Scottish view that advocates banning all mixed waste from landfill rather than just focusing on specific material bans. My other concern is that landfill bans will only work if they are policed properly and the infrastructure needs to be in place.
The consultation states that restrictions on specific materials are expected to stimulate the development of alternative waste infrastructure, boosting separate collections of waste and increasing the recycling and recovery of waste.
But British Glass recycling manager Rebecca Cocking commented: Some of the concerns that we have is that they [Government] are very loose with the term glass. They say a landfill ban for glass but they do not say what types of glass will be banned. Glass has different compositions and cannot all be recycled as one. However, it is encouraging that more glass could be recycled but we are concerned that all glass will be lumped together.
She added that there needed to be a full strategic collaboration in place between all stakeholders involved through to glass manufacturers and local authorities for a landfill ban to work.
Cocking said: My concern is that local authorities may say oh, my God, I have got targets to meet. What is the cheapest, easiest way of doing this? How will they collect it; will they be collecting it just to tick another box? Do we have to go for high-end closed loop recycling? And, if so, we will need the infrastructure to mirror that.
Shanks materials director Paul Dumpleton said: We have to have is enforcement without it
why should anyone invest? It can be enforced at the point of landfill but it has to be enforced properly. This country has got a long history of poor enforcement; for example, the Pre-Treatment Regulations have never been enforced properly.
Confederation of Paper Industries recovered paper sector manager Peter Seggie added: Although to many a landfill restriction for used paper and board would appear to be a logical thing to do, it is fraught with dangers that need to be considered before implementation.
Paper and board recycling in the UK is already a huge success, and is built on the foundations of quality management and efficient sorting while keeping exposure to contaminating elements to a minimum. Landfill restrictions may simply drive contaminated paper and board and materials detrimental to the paper recycling process into the current paper and board recycling stream, and pass on significant costs and complications to the actual reprocessor.
Or it may render much of the currently recycled material unfit for reprocessing and lead to greater incineration of recovered paper and board. This would mean the loss of significant environmental and economic benefits to the UK and go against the waste hierarchy embedded within the revised EU Waste Framework Directive. This is not to say that landfill restrictions are not achievable for used paper and board products, but they will only be part of a number of policy options that must be in place to protect the integrity of recovered paper for reprocessing.