Several local authorities have approached East Cambridgeshire District Council over a document it released in order to vindicate its move to a commingled collection service under the TEEP guidelines.
From 1 January 2015, waste collectors must collect paper, glass, metal and plastic by separate collection in order to comply with the Waste Framework Directive. This is unless it is not technically, economically and environmentally practicable (TEEP) to do so.
After receiving £5m DCLG funding, East Cambridgeshire launched a new dry commingled service under contract with waste management company Amey Cespa, and drafted a defence of this move under the TEEP exemption in September 2013.
Dave White, East Cambridgeshire waste strategy team leader, told MRW: “We were trying to justify that decision and the fact that we did consider the implications of TEEP in changing the service.”
However, he stressed that the publication was only ever intended as a “holding measure” until proper guidance is released.
He added: “Having no guidance you have to pick a few things out of the air.”
White described the document as “a first stab”.
Furthermore, he said that several councils had been in contact with him over the document and had registered their interest. These included Northumberland and Hertfordshire councils.
A Hertfordshire Waste Partnership spokesperson told MRW: “The Hertfordshire Waste Partnership, representing Hertfordshire’s 11 waste authorities, is currently considering how best to respond to TEEP.”
Commenting on the requirment of local authorities to review their collection arrangement, Paul Jones, head of waste and fleet management, Northumberland County Council said: “In the absence of any official Defra guidance on how to conduct such a review, the county council has not yet undertaken this process.”
Commenting on councils choosing commingled collections, director of Waste Transition and non-executive director with several companies in the waste sector, Paul Levett (Left), told MRW: “I’m not aware of any but I imagine that those that adopt commingled in 2013 or 2014 will not want to court publicity or declare the basis of their positions in case they become the target of legal action in 2015. (They would not want previous statements held against them).
“I think that it will be difficult to justify single stream commingled collection as compliant unless they deliver to a materials recycling facility (MRF) which operates to much higher quality standards than those generally seen today.
“This would mean slowing down MRF lines and introducing extra pickers and land filling residue. It could be done, but would put such MRFs at a disadvantage versus many other MRFs.
“The answer lies in addressing the collection system and the MRF process in a co-ordinated way which would utilise the premium prices obtained for higher quality materials to fund improved collection.”
UK Recyclate Ltd, which supported a Judicial Review challenging the UK’s interpretation of the Directive last year, has sent warning letters to those councils, which it expects to go down the commingled collection route.
UK Recyclate director, Mal Williams told MRW: “We are trying to get councils to take care with the legislation to save themselves expensive re-investments.”