A “robust” six-month recycling trial involving 7,500-8,000 Monmouthshire households has been approved by the council that will see glass separated from other dry recyclables at the kerbside.
This ‘twin stream’ option would see glass extracted and sent directly to the market for further treatment, while other dry recyclables are sent to a materials recycling facility (MRF).
Weekly food and garden waste collections will also be split as part of the trial, with food waste treated through anaerobic digestion (AD) and garden waste separately sent for open windrow composting. The two are currently collected together and sent for in-vessel composting (IVC).
Set to start in mid-late September – although firm dates and locations have not been set – the pilot is aimed at improving material quality and reducing the council’s recycling costs.
The trial was first recommended in February when it was estimated that as much as a 50% reduction on the current glass gate fee could be achieved (see letsrecycle.com story).
It is being carried out in response to the Welsh Government’s preference for separate collections in view of EU waste regulations, and Monmouthshire intends to assess whether the trial system is TEEP – technically, environmentally and economically practicable.
The Welsh Government has set out a recycling blueprint for Welsh local authorities, stating that kerbside sort is the most economic and environmentally-friendly method.
Currently, the council’s in-house service sees glass bottles and jars collected each week from households via a purple bag alongside tins and plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays. In a separate red bag, cardboard, paper and drinks cartons are collected, while refuse is collected every fortnight.
However, separate glass collections have been recommended because, due to the decline in markets and also increased regulation on MRF processes, council analysis shows more glass is being used within aggregate recycling.
The council said that statutory guidance on applying the waste hierarchy suggested that this is “worse than landfilling the material”.
However, having collected the highest tonnage of kerbside dry recycling per household in Wales in 2014/15, the council is keen to see any change to its collection system affecting material capture.
A report to the council’s cabinet last week (March 2) states that “there is little guidance on how LAs reconcile the issue of whether more recycling collected from householders and treated via commingled/MRFs is detrimental to the environment compared to less tonnage from kerbside sort.
“Also there is an assumption that kerbside sort automatically leads to closed loop recycling. This is not a given and depends on end markets, commercial opportunities and local priorities when determining end destinations of kerbside collected materials.”
But, the report concludes that before a full conclusion can be made, it is important that the council “has a full understanding of the quality of its recyclable material”.
Results of the pilot will be assessed by the council’s recycling review steering group, select committee, cabinet and appropriate regulatory bodies “prior to proceeding with full implementation” and the collection methodology adjusted “if necessary”.
Natural Resources Wales, which regulates for compliance with the EU Waste Framework Directive on behalf of the Welsh Government, has also asked Monmouthshire officers to share the results of the trial for review.
It had previously been expected that fully rolling out the trial scheme across the county could save the council £270,000 a year.
Monmouthshire’s collection vehicle fleet needs replacing over the 2016-2018 period and the council said that as procuring new vehicles means commitment to a particular collection service for at least seven years.
It therefore needs to ensure its service is ‘future proofed’ in regards to “public acceptability, financial affordability, environmental performance and legal compliance”.
During the trial period, Monmouthshire will also review the collection model in Scotland, where councils are being encouraged to move toward a single system for recycling collections (see letsrecycle.com story).