17 June 2011
An environmental expert from global consultancy WYG has welcomed the government’s launch (14 June 2011) of the Waste Review for England and the protection it appears to offer for local councils and their communities to continue to design their own waste management arrangements.
Ben Arnold, an environmental expert from WYG with over 25 years’ experience writes, we have recently announced our findings in a report on kerbside recycling collection systems in the UK (www.wyg.com/recyclingreview) and welcome the government’s view that waste services are a matter for local authorities to develop fit-for-purpose local solutions.
We support this hands-off approach on methods of collection: the configuration of waste and recycling collection services should be a local choice, dependent on circumstances in each local authority.
There has been much debate, particularly in recent days, on weekly and fortnightly refuse collections and on food waste and our report and research database provide extensive information to assist local authorities in their decision-making on such matters.
The Waste Review is silent on the kerbside-sort vs co-mingled debate, except to say that the government will be working with the waste industry to promote quality in Material Recovery Facilities through an industry-led code of practice. It is positive that there is emphasis on promoting quality, to ensure the sustainability of co-mingled collections and future markets for recyclable materials, in the UK and abroad.
We welcome the abolition of the LATS regime and can see the possibilities now open to local authorities for enhanced collection services for commercial customers, especially those that capture food waste and dry recyclables.
We believe an area that does need more consideration is methane capture, which needs an increase in ROCS or expansion of the scope of the FIT scheme to encourage smaller scale power generation (perhaps plants with a total output of less than 0.5MW) on older landfill sites. A significant increase in financial incentive would make more landfill gas utilisation projects viable, where the economics of energy recovery for many are currently at best only marginal.
An area the review does not address is the critical issue of providing adequate returns for investors in anaerobic digestion projects. However, in other respects the DECC/DEFRA Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and action plan is a positive and welcome development, particularly the intention to develop a £10 million loan fund to stimulate investment in AD infrastructure.
The action plan also details many other useful initiatives. Whilst it could have gone further, the framework for AD in the UK is improving and the plan will accelerate that improvement.
This review is a clearly step forward in signalling the government’s intentions, although it is imperative that consultations and action follow promptly, leading to a genuine waste strategy for the new decade.