A senior councillor in Hampshire has defended the county’s performance on recycling – despite recording a recycling rate of 38% in 2014/15 – claiming that the authority is among the best performers on landfill diversion in England.
Seán Woodward, chair of Hampshire’s waste partnership Project Integra, suggested the Environment Agency should be “more supportive” of efforts to reduce landfilling.
Project Integra comprises the 11 district and borough authorities within Hampshire, including the county council, Portsmouth and Southampton councils, and contractor Veolia.
Asked why Hampshire local authorities on average achieved poorer recycling rates than many other regions in the country, Cllr Woodward argued that the county’s recycling would rise to more than 46% if the 84,000 tonnes of incinerator bottom ash aggregate (IBAA) produced each year was taken into account as ‘recycling’.
He also queried the Agency’s decision to discount street leaf sweepings from its composting figures.
Cllr Woodward said: “A landfill league table would show just 6% going from Hampshire, while there is 40% going into landfill from other councils with high recycling figures. We are getting 6% because we use energy from waste; if you wanted to consider that as recycling, there are tens of thousands of tonnes of IBA being recycled as aggregate for use in Hampshire’s roads. It counts in Wales and in Germany but in England we’re not allowed to.”
Essex county council, which across its collection authorities recycled 51.1% of waste in 2014/15, disposed of 43.77% of its waste to landfill. And Devon, which recycled 55%, landfilled 31.45% of its waste over the same period.
He added: “These people [the Environment Agency] should be supportive of what’s going on. The biggest blight here is landfill.”
Many counties in England that achieved above average recycling rates in 2014/15 continue to send a higher percentage of municipal waste to landfill than energy recovery. Essex county council, which across its collection authorities recycled 51.1% of waste in 2014/15, disposed of 43.77% of its waste to landfill. And Devon, which recycled 55%, landfilled 31.45% of its waste over the same period.
Richard Kirkman, technical director at Veolia UK and Ireland, also highlighted Hampshire’s landfill diversion rate, and joined the councillor in calling for IBA to be counted towards recycling.
He said: “Hampshire is one of the top performing counties in the UK for landfill diversion, achieving 94.55% of diversion during 2014-2015, as well as having one of the lowest cost per household for waste disposal in the country.
“We already recycle all the IBA tonnages and if they were included in the recycling rate it would stand at 48.47% taking us close to our 2020 target. We will continue to work with Project Integra and all its partners to help boost recycling rates and save resources as part of the circular economy.”
Since Project Integra last met in October (see letsrecycle.com story), Cllr Woodward said he had corresponded with resources minister Rory Stewart who seemed “very positive” to his request for IBA to be used towards recycling targets, rather than as a ‘disposal’ outlet.
When asked if householders could do more to curb the amount of waste being sent to Veolia’s three energy recovery facilities in Portsmouth, Southampton and Chineham, Cllr Woodward conceded more needed to be done to get recyclables out of residual bins – particularly paper and cardboard.
He continued that the prevalence of weekly refuse collections in the New Forest, Portsmouth and Southampton – which received funding to retain its system from DCLG in 2012 – were adding to the contamination issue.
In 2014/15, New Forest district council, Southampton city council and Portsmouth city council recorded recycling rates of 29.8%, 26.1% and 22.7% respectively.
“We are working with district councils to do what we can. If all our councils did alternate weekly collections of residual waste it would be a different story. But it’s not for me to tell them what to do, in Portsmouth there are many terraced streets and houses that open on to the pavement so these are issues that need to be overcome,” he said.
Cllr Woodward was also asked whether he shared the views of Gosport councillor Piers Bateman, who at the last meeting of Project Integra voiced ‘frustration’ that not all partner councils were involved in the Recycle for Hampshire education programme, with just one education officer covering seven areas in the county.
He said: “Some councils do their own thing, just so long as it’s happening. The collection authorities get a dividend for recycling so it’s in their interest to increase their rates.”
Project Integra is also looking at developing a dirty material reclamation plant with Veolia and looking at composting and food waste.
The Partnership has also recommended the government provide details for devolution of fines should the UK fail to meet the 2020 recycling target of 50%.