A presentation was given to the Committee on International, National and Local Authority waste news.
International Waste News
The Committee were advised that a global commitment to eliminate plastic waste and pollution at its source has now been signed by over 290 organisations; and this represents around 20% of all plastic packaging produced across the world.
The Ellen MacArthur foundation, which is leading the ‘New Plastics Economy Global Commitment’ in collaboration with UN Environment, says that many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, as well as governments and NGOs have signed up.
The commitment aims to create a ‘new normal’ for plastic packaging, with companies agreeing to publish their progress against key targets annually by aiming to:
· Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging, and move from single-use to reusable packaging models;
· Innovate, to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025;
· And ensure plastics stay in circulation for longer buy increasing its reuse, or the amount recycled as new packaging or products
The Committee were also advised that a new Quality Control scheme has been jointly developed by the Recycling Association and certification and inspection organisation CCIC London to help meet the requirements for exporting paper to China.
The new scheme introduces an additional paper inspection regime to the existing quality control systems already in place at many depots and will ensure materials meet the Chinese specifications.
Companies not wishing to take part in the scheme will face the alternative of CCIA London physically inspecting all shipments to China, which could cause delays and additional costs.
National Waste News
The Committee will recall the Chancellor’s recent budget announcement, which was followed by a mixed response from different parts of the waste sector in terms of its environment and sustainability measures, which included:
· £10million to tackle abandoned waste sites;
· A new tax on the manufacture and import if plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled plastic content;
· And a commitment to reforming Packaging Producer Responsibility;
· But, notably, did not include rumoured taxes on disposable plastic cup and, crucially for us, incineration
Responses from the sector has been mixed and subject to consultation, it is expected that the new plastic packaging tax will take effect from 1 April 2022.
The Committee were also advised that a report issued by the UK Without Incineration Network that looks at the climate change impacts of waste incineration in the UK has been described as ‘deeply flawed’ by Cory Riverside Energy.
The report claims that in 2017, the UK’s 42 incinerators released a combined total of nearly 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. However, Cory Riverside said that the report is both frustrating and highly concerning and agree that wherever possible waste must be minimised or recycled.
The Committee were also advised that more than four out of ten UK adults say that there are insufficient incentives for them to recycle materials in their local area, according to new research commissioned by technology company Yotta. And just under a third of the sample said smart schemes designed to incentivise recycling,
· Such as systems that identify different types of waste and then reward customers for correctly disposing it,
· Or specialised bottle deposit machines which allow consumers to claim a small sum on returns;
· Would improve the amount they recycle
However, it should be noted that whilst this sort of technology brings a different dimension to waste services, the research doesn’t acknowledge a number of key issues. Further updates will be given in due course to Committee.
The Committee were advised that Walkers has launched the UK’s first nationwide recycling scheme for crisp packets. The scheme, which is due to start this month, accepts all crisp packets, not just Walkers’ products.
Walkers long-term ambition is to make all of its packaging 100% recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025. The Committee were advised that crisp packets are technically recyclable,but are difficult to separate from other recycling at the MRF.
Conwy County Borough Council has become the first UK council to rollout a four weekly residual waste collection, following a year- long trial. This means that residents now receive:
· A weekly collection for food waste;
· A weekly collection for paper, card, TetraPaks, cans, aerosols, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, tubs, and trays and household batteries;
· A fortnightly collection for green waste, textiles and small electrical waste;
· A refuse collection every four weeks; and
· A weekly nappy collection for those who need it.
The council say that half of the waste that was disposed as residual waste before the trial could have been recycled easily.
Conwy currently recycles 64% of its waste but needs to recycle 70% by 2024/25 to meet Welsh Government targets... or face fines for non-achievement.
Local Authority Waste News
The Committee were informed that Minister for Resources, Therese Coffey has written to Swindon Borough Council to ask if to ‘reflect carefully’ on its recently announced plan to temporarily stop recycling plastic.
Last month, the council said that because plastic was ‘mot being recycle properly’, it intends to temporarily send it for energy recovery and also that unrecyclable plastics are finding their way into recycling collections.
The council say that unrecyclable plastics are finding their way into recycling collections and the Recycling Association said this was ‘absolutely to wrong way to go’.
South Staffordshire District Council has extended a waste contract with Biffa because the council believed that if they were to re-tender the work, they might not receive any bids.
The original seven-year contract with Biffa was signed in 2013, with an optional extension period of up to another seven years. However, the council decided that it didn’t want to take up the full extension option because further delays to the publication of the waste and resources strategy might radically change what the service needs to deliver.
A cabinet report noted that that Biffa contract had saved taxpayers £2.8million over its lifetime and there had been no performance issues or problems. The report also advised that this should be agreed because if the council sought a new contractor now, it may receive unsatisfactory bids, or even no interest at all.
RESOLVED - that the Joint Executive Committee noted the contents of the