Our World, Our Waste, Our Choice

BAN Waste interim report, 2001

[links to other reports from BAN Waste]

Table of contents

FOREWORD

Newcastle, like most of Britain, was a champion at waste minimisation, re-use and recycling. Fifty years ago, people would have been horrified at todays attitude to waste.

Over that fifty years, we have become a throw away society. The average household generates over a tonne of waste a year. Such an attitude to waste may have been a reaction to wartime economics and increasing affluence, but it cannot go on. It is immoral for the affluent and rich 20% of the world to continue using up resources at such a rate and creating so much pollution, while the poorer 80% of the world still go short of so many basic necessities.

Such unfairness will always create global instability. Creating so much waste does not make economic sense either. There are huge economic advantages to finding ways of using less energy and materials and, where waste is created, by learning how to reclaim value from it.

Equally, however waste is treated whether it is burnt or merely dumped in the ground its collection and disposal creates pollution. So there is an overwhelming moral, economic and health argument for Newcastle to have a waste strategy that aims to reduce waste and treats the waste produced as a resource rather than throwing it away.

This report tries to set out the reasons for such a strategy and to pose questions about how it can be achieved.

Implementing such a strategy is about what government ought to be doing, what services the local council should be providing, and, above all, what each and every citizen in Newcastle can do.

Dealing with waste is a very democratic issue. Every one of us has choices about what we buy, and how we can get rid of our waste. Unfortunately, most of us give it little thought. Central to this report is the need for the people of Newcastle to start thinking about waste. The purpose of this interim report is to get that discussion going.

Over the coming months, consultation will be taking place to find out how far people will use their power as consumers to buy goods without vast amounts of packaging, to separate old newspapers, glass and other materials for recycling, to compost vegetable waste, and what incentives are needed to alter peoples behaviour. There will also be a discussion about what Newcastle Council should do to support the citys citizens in making choices.

Newcastle could cut waste in half over the next five years. It could sign up to the long-term aim of Zero Waste. Or it could go on creating an additional 3% year a year, with all the pollution it causes, and gain the reputation as the rubbish dump of Europe.

It is your choice - make your voice heard.

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Thanks

1. The Byker and Newcastle Waste Group (BAN Waste) Select Committee is a new departure in involving the public in the decisions of local government. It would not have taken place without a great deal of effort by many people.
2. Thanks are due to the public who have supported us, the funders of BAN Waste, the Select Committee witnesses and the members of BAN Waste who although not members of the Select Committee have been vital in making it happen.
3. For BAN Waste, a community led partnership, to keep going and to have achieved what it has is only possible because of the high level of commitment of its members. They have given a great deal of time and energy on top of their usual commitments. These members have been sustained and encouraged by a much wider public who express interest and support. In local shops, pubs, workplaces and in our neighbourhoods BAN Waste members have regularly been approached by people asking questions about how things are going and expressing support.
4. It is up to others to decide whether the Select Committee is due thanks. We hope our efforts have made a useful contribution to a public debate and to Newcastle adopting a sustainable waste strategy.

(Full details of witnesses, funders, members of BAN Waste are in the Appendices)

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Chapter 1: Introduction

5. The Select Committees investigations into alternatives for a waste strategy for the city of Newcastle upon Tyne developed from the work of Byker and Newcastle Waste Group (BAN Waste). The Select Committee is also part of a growing debate and actions to strengthen public involvement in decision-making. The Select Committees Terms of Reference reflect these two issues.
6.

Select Committee's Terms of Reference

"To examine and recommend an appropriate waste strategy for the citizens of Newcastle, and to see what needs to be done by individuals, companies and the local authority to facilitate that strategy. In particular, to look at:

  • The national guidance in the Governments Waste Strategy 2000.
  • The implications for such a strategy for the health of the community, the provision of employment, the environmental and the financial implications for citizens.
  • Examples of best practice nationally and internationally.

To develop new methods of participatory democracy and to ensure local people are able to have an effective say in any proposals for a waste strategy."

7. This report, the Interim Report, is based on evidence submitted to the Select Committee by witnesses; on documents used by BAN Waste to compile briefings for the Select Committee; and on other background materials in the public domain, which are cited in the bibliography.
8. BAN Waste grew from concerns of local residents of Byker about the proposal by Newcastle City Council to replace the existing incinerator at Byker with a new plant. A meeting of 200 people held on January 19, 2000, discussed these concerns. Newcastle Council proposed the establishment of a Working Group made up of residents, council officers, councillors and other involved agencies to investigate these issues. This became BAN Waste. The issue of the incinerator and Newcastles waste strategy have implications across the city and now BAN Waste is a city wide organisation with over 120 members and a much wider level of public interest and support. It has worked to stimulate public interest and debate on waste issues and to find ways to involve the public in decision-making.
9. BAN Waste, and the Select Committee, arose from increasing concerns nationally and internationally about ways of handling waste, and more fundamentally about reducing the levels of waste. In particular there is a growing debate in Britain about proposals to dramatically increase the amount of waste that is burnt, usually in Energy from Waste (EfW) incinerators where the energy released is used for heat and/or electricity or Combined Heat and Power.
10. The Select Committee is part of the process which aims to inform both the Council and the public about issues to do with waste. The Select Committee will sit for two phases. The first, of which this report is the outcome, looked at the broad issues of waste. This included where waste comes from, the different materials that are classed as waste and how waste can be handled. These sessions concluded by outlining some of the choices involved in waste strategies and a number of recommendations and outline strategies.
11. Following the first set of hearings of the Select Committee there will be, in parallel, assessments of the impacts of these different options and a series of Community Events to further increase the publics involvement in waste issues. Newcastle City Council will instigate a Health Impact Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment. There will also be an assessment of employment and other economic impacts. It is sensible to carry out these assessments before embarking on a major, expensive and long-term policy such as the waste strategy for a city for the next twenty years. The Community Events will be held in different areas across the city. They will use innovative means to engage the public with the aims of both informing them about issues to do with waste and listening to and recording their views.
12. After the assessments and Community Events, in 2002, the Select Committee will sit again (Phase 2) to hear the reports of the assessment, in terms of health, environment, economy and employment; consider the results of the community events; to look at wider issues of regulation, risk and future uncertainty; to make comparisons between alternatives; and draw conclusions. The result will be a Final Report which will recommend a sustainable waste strategy for the city of Newcastle, with an explanation of the reasons why.
13. There is growing interest about public involvement in decision-making and strengthening democracy, as well as the growing concern about waste. This is in response to falling participation in elections, both locally and nationally, and a growing recognition that public involvement produces better decisions and strengthens support and commitment to the decisions taken. BAN Waste, made up overwhelmingly of ordinary members of the public, has constantly worked to be open and democratic, to engage the wider public in its work and to publicise the issues about waste.
14. The Select Committee process may offer a way to improve local democracy and decision-making by involving the public, stimulating a well-informed and wide-ranging debate and producing better final decisions that enjoy greater public support. Alongside the Select Committee itself, an assessment of the process and its relevance to local democracy is being carried out, which will result in a substantial Evaluation Report.
15. We hope that the efforts of BAN Waste and the Select Committee will strengthen public involvement in decision-making and produce a better waste strategy for the city. Our aim is to improve the health and quality of life, environment, employment opportunities and democracy for the residents of Newcastle upon Tyne.
16. We welcome the constructive approach of Newcastle City Council and its officers in developing its waste strategy in recent months. We hope in the second phase of our inquiry we can address the priorities of the Council, and consider the resources available to implement the proposals in this report.

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Present Situation
Chapter 2: Government Policy

Introduction

17. In recent years growing scientific and public concerns about waste have given rise to policy statements and legislation from the UK government and the European Union (EU). These concerns include the large volume of resources and energy used in production, often inefficiently; the fact that most of the products or the materials end up being thrown away rather than being returned for further use; and the negative impacts on health and the environment of the present ways of handling waste. In the last 20 years there have been fundamental changes in the publics attitude, and both EU and Government legislation on waste. This chapter outlines the present waste position in England and Wales and the main legislation that is driving much of the change in the way local authorities handle waste, which sets part of the scene for the choices about waste strategy.

Present Waste Situation

18. In England and Wales around 400 million tonnes of solid waste are produced in a year. Of this total, 106 million tonnes are from industry, businesses and households and a further 294 million tonnes are from construction, demolition, agriculture, mining, sewage works and dredging. Municipal waste accounts for 28 million tonnes a year (DETR, 2000).
19. Municipal waste is the main concern of the BAN Waste Select Committee and this report. Although municipal waste is less than 10% of the total, dealing with it poses some of the greatest problems. It includes a wide range of materials, some hazardous, and at present they are all mixed together making it much more difficult to deal with.
20. Households produce 25 million tonnes of municipal waste with the rest coming from local businesses. Each household produces on average 1.2 tonnes per year, which is just over half a tonne for every one of the 53 million people in England and Wales; we throw away around 8 times our body weight of solid waste each year.
21. Of the 28 million tonnes of municipal waste most of it, 83%, over 23 million tonnes is disposed to landfill put into holes in the ground. The amount of municipal waste produced has been recently growing by 3% each year. At this rate it will have doubled to 56 million tonnes in 23 years! However this growth rate is not inevitable; there are choices about waste.
22. As well as solids, waste is also disposed of as a liquid and into the atmosphere. Waste discharged into the rivers and coastal waters amounts to over 3.7 million tonnes a year. This includes 3.2 million tonnes of various solids; 3,900 tonnes of metals, including copper, lead and zinc; 520,000 tonnes of phosphate and nitrogen nutrients; and a tonne of dangerous organic pollutants such as PCBs and lindane (DEFRA, 2001). A much greater quantity of water is polluted than the weight of waste. A toilet flush uses 9-12 kilograms of clean water to dispose of between 0.1 to 0.4 kilograms of waste. We expend a huge amount of effort to produce clean water of drinkable quality only to pollute it with waste (to put it politely)! A clothes washing machine uses 40 to 135 kilograms of water to remove a few grams of dirt from the clothes.
23. Waste to the air amounts to over 590 million tonnes. Much of this comes from burning fossil fuels in cars, electricity generation, heating buildings and industrial production. The harmful effects of different wastes to air vary greatly, so that weight alone is not the best indicator of harm.
Thousand Tonnes:
UK 1999
NOx1,605
SO21,187
PM10186
Black Smoke271
CO4,760
VOC1,744
Benzene29,690
Butadiene6
Ammonia348
HCl98
HF4
Heavy Metals2
POPs2
Methane2,632
CO2547,800
Total590,334

UK Air Emissions, 1999 (DEFRA, 2001)

24. Although this report does not examine waste discharges to either air or water, they are provided here to indicate the wider range of issues relating to our widespread and rather casual production of wastes. They are also relevant when considering waste treatment strategies and will be considered in the Health and Environment Impact Assessments which will be part of the Final Report of the Select Committee.
25. The production of household waste, which makes up the majority of municipal waste and is the main focus of this report, is not equally produced by all members of society. The production of waste by households is related to income, so that the better-off in society produce a much greater volume of waste than the less well-off. The average household produces 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds or 189 stones) of waste a year, while the poorest 10% of households produce less than half this amount, 476 kilograms. The richest 10% of households in contrast produce nearly 2,181 kilograms a year. Also not surprisingly waste production of households varies with the number of people in the household, so that single person households produce more per person than households with several people (Henry, 2001).

Relationship between Affluence and Production of Household (Henry, 2001)

26. The growing use of resources, the amount of waste produced and the associated problems, which have produced mounting public concern about waste issues, will be considered more fully in the next chapter. These concerns have led both the EU and the Government to introduce policy changes.

Waste Hierarchy

27. Central to the UK Governments and European Unions policies on waste is the view that there is a ladder of preferences of how to respond to waste. The best approach is to reduce the amount of waste produced. This is followed by re-using objects rather than treating them as waste. Examples include up-grading old computers or having re-useable containers such as the milk bottle that is used on average some 17 times. Next is the idea of recycling the materials, such as making new paper from old newspapers or new steel objects from used cans. After this is the idea of composting materials that can be rotted down (sometimes called putrescibles or organic matter) to make compost to improve the quality of soil. The lower rung of the ladder is to recover the energy stored in materials by a number of techniques (Energy from Waste) primarily burning, to release energy that is then used for electricity generation and heating. Bottom of the ladder is disposing of waste to landfill or dumping in the sea. This preferred order of handling waste is commonly known as the waste hierarchy.
28. The reason for this general approach is to reduce the amount of materials and energy needed to produce goods. Reduction is based on the aim of making products to the same standard but with less energy and materials involved. If a product has a longer life by being reused rather than being thrown away this can reduce the need for making a new product. Recycling although involving more energy and other possible impacts than re-use avoids the costs and environmental impacts of producing new materials and can save some of the energy involved in production. Organic matter is vital to healthy soil as it provides nutrients and aids water and air availability to plants, yet it is constantly being lost. Modern agriculture and household gardeners have used chemical fertilisers and peat to replenish soil nutrients. Yet much of the rubbish we throw away can be composted to return nutrients and quality to the soil. Energy recovery aims to capture some of the energy used to produce goods rather than throwing them away, clearly this only applies to materials that can be burnt it is not applicable to glass or cans.
29. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to move from a throw-away society, a linear system of production, where raw materials are extracted and produced, transported, made into products, transported again, sold and used for a relatively short time and then thrown away. Instead society should look at a circular process in which materials flow round and round thus avoiding some consumption of energy, constant extraction and production of new materials and production of waste. In the natural world there is really no such thing as waste, everything is used by another plant or animal, often in complex connections that bring benefits to all the participants.
30. Society needs to move from waste disposal to resource recovery, so that waste is treated as a local resource.

Recent Waste Polices: UK Government

Waste Strategy 2000 (White Paper)

31. The UK Governments policy for waste is presented in the White Paper, Waste Strategy 2000, that brings together various legislation, outlines targets on waste and proposes a number of measures to achieve these targets. The primary aims are to tackle the amount of waste produced by
"Breaking the link between economic growth and waste production" and
"Putting waste which is produced to good use."
32. The Strategy recognises that increasing recycling requires:
"greater provision of single material waste streams"
"greater reprocessing capacity, to turn waste materials into new inputs"
"more use of recycled (or secondary) materials in production processes"
33. The government has introduced measures to deliver the changes in waste management which include:
  • Targets set for Local Authorities to increase the amount of waste recycled, composted and recovered and reduce the amount of biodegradable material going to landfill
  • Waste and Resources Action Programme - an organisation to overcome market barriers to recycling and re-use
  • Pilot scheme for Public Organisations (Government Departments and Agencies) to buy recycled goods
  • Producers having responsibility to recycle and recover packaging and newsprint
  • Landfill Tax presently 312 per tonne and increasing 31 a year until at least 2004, some of the money raised is intended to support re-use and recycling
  • Information and Best Practice advice to public, local authorities and business
34. The Waste Strategy 2000 states that Local Authorities should base decisions concerning waste on
  • Best Practicable Environmental Option
  • Aiming for the highest levels of the Waste Hierarchy (Reduce, re-use, recycle, compost, recover, disposal),
  • Handling waste close to production (Proximity Principle)
  • Regions should not export waste (Self Sufficiency).

Other Recent Waste Legislation

Environment Act, 1990

35. Introduced a new waste licensing system which included a Duty of Care on persons who dealt with waste. This was strengthened in the Waste Management Licensing Regulations, 1994 to ensure that waste management facilities do not cause pollution to the environment or harm to peoples health. The 1990 act also required local authorities to prepare recycling plans.

Environment Act, 1995

36. This changed arrangements for waste management such as empowering the Environment Agency as "Competent Authority" to oversee waste and the introduction of the principle of Best Practicable Option for dealing with waste.

Finance Act and Landfill Tax Regulations, 1996

37. Introduced a tax on waste going to landfill. There are two levels, one on active waste which is waste that can be burnt, decompose or combine with other materials and chemicals. The other is for inert waste which will not burn, decompose, combine with other chemicals and materials or cause pollution. Active waste is presently (2001) taxed at 312 per tonne, which will rise by 31 a year until a least 315 in 2004. Inert waste is taxed at 32 a tonne. The money raised by this tax is used to fund research, education and information on recycling, waste prevention, support for energy from waste and developing markets for recycled products.

Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, 1997

38. Requires businesses, which in a year have a turnover of over 32 million and handle over 50 tonnes of packing, to recover and recycle packaging. Targets are set for different sectors of the business chain and different materials, which include paper, card, glass, steel and aluminium, plastic and wood.

Waste Minimisation Act, 1998

39. This Act allows, although it does not require, local authorities to encourage waste reduction.

Local Government Act, 1999

40. Requires local authorities to apply Best Value to waste management. Best Value includes the principle of sustainable development. Among the tools required are Best Value Indicators, Performance Plans, 5 year Reviews and Audits and inspections.

Local Government Act, 2000

41. Gives local authorities a new power and responsibility to "promote or improve the economic, social or environmental well-being of the area and inhabitants" which includes a duty to prepare a community strategy to this end. Waste management is included as one of the areas for local community partnerships.

Pollution Prevention and Control Act, 1999

42. Requires that an integrated environmental approach, Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, is used on the regulation of landfill sites, incinerators and other waste disposal facilities.

Recent Waste Polices: European Union

43. Some of the recent UK legislation has been influenced by EU policy. European policy on waste management involves strategies to eliminate waste at source by improving product design, encouraging the recycling and re-use of waste and reducing pollution caused by waste incineration.

Landfill Directive

44. Should have been implemented in the UK by July 2001, but has been delayed. The government intends to implement it through the Pollution and Prevention Control Regulations. The Directive requires regulation on the operation of landfill sites, reductions in biodegradable waste going to landfill, separation of landfill into hazardous, non-hazardous and inert, the treatment of most waste before landfill and a ban on certain materials being landfilled, such as liquid wastes. The Directive will ban whole tyres from landfill in 2003 and shredded tyres in 2006.

End of Life Vehicles Directive

45. Sets targets for reducing the amount of waste produced from vehicles at the end of their life (when scrapped). By 2006, 80% by weight should be recycled. Also requires manufacturers to design for re-use and recycling.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

46. This comes into effect in stages over the next 5 years and requires the producers of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (covers a wide range of goods including computers, hi-fi, household appliances, lighting, power tools) to take responsibility, including financial, for the disposal of these goods. This will require separate collection of WEEE and the setting up of systems to treat, recycle and re-use this equipment and parts.

Batteries Directive

47. There are proposals to update the 1991 Directive on batteries to reduce the impact they have on the environment.

Bodies Responsible for Waste Management

Environment Agency

48. Key role in waste management with responsibility to regulate waste policy, ensure high standards in the management of waste, to provide advice and gather information and to help in the implementation of the governments Waste Strategy 2000.

Local Authorities

49. Newcastle City Council has responsibility to arrange for the collection of household waste and in some cases industrial and commercial waste, implement recycling plans and arrange for the disposal of waste.

Waste Targets

50. The government has set a number of targets, which while dealing with different parts of the waste stream somewhat overlap.
Percent of 1995 Municipal Biodegradable Waste Sent to Landfill
201075
201350
202035

Municipal Biodegradable Waste: To reduce the biodegradable municipal waste landfilled compared to the 1995 amount

Percent of Municipal Waste Recovered
200540
201045
201567

Municipal Waste Recovery (includes recycle, compost and energy from waste)

Percent of Household Waste Recycled
200525
201030
201533

Household Waste Recycled (Recycling & Compost)

Comments

51. Waste Strategy 2000 represents a shift in government policy with a clear recognition of the need to end the throwaway society. The change in legislation has been the most important factor in changing local authorities and businesses attitude to waste.
"Legislation was the main driver." (Stevens, 2001)
"Legislation is main driver." (Prescott, 2001)
"Regulation has driven retailers." (Martin, 2001)
"New approach was being driven mainly by legislation." (Taylor, 2001)
"Legislation and regulation were key drivers for change." (Pumfrey, 2001)
52. We welcome the aims of the Governments Waste Strategy 2000 of "breaking the link between economic growth and waste production" and "putting waste which is produced to good use".
53. Achieving these aims will require overcoming barriers and changes in policy from government, local authorities, business and individuals. Wrigley (2001) of Government Office North East pointed to three major barriers to achieving the Waste Strategys aims. They are:
  • National issues, such as developing a market for recycled materials and the present attitude of a throwaway society
  • political priority - is waste seen as a serious issue ?
  • Silo approach to thinking about waste
54. Changing the way waste is treated, from throwing it away to seeing it as a resource, will require major national changes in economics, marketing, policy and political will. Too often the waste strategies are developed in isolation (silo approach) from other issues such as health, employment and quality of life. It is often seen simply as a technical matter, rather than being integrated with social issues and public involvement.
55. Wrigley (2001) believes that change will come from:
  • "Joined up thinking, so that waste is recognised as an economic opportunity rather than just a problem"
  • "Joined up working and purchasing - cooperating to achieve economies of scale - joint reprocessing capacity"
  • "High level leadership and commitment"
  • "Individual attitude change"
56. It is the case that European law has been a major factor in recent changes in UK legislation.
"European Legislation 5 have at last meant that the UK is taking recycling and a more sustainable approach to waste management seriously." (Dumpleton, 2001)
However, Already some EU countries have achieved higher levels of recycling than even the targets set for the UK.
57. The Waste Strategy 2000 states as one of its two main aims "breaking the link between economic growth and waste production." Yet there are no targets to reduce waste in the document. Several witnesses stressed that the real issue in dealing with waste is to reduce and minimise the amount that is produced.
"Top priority is reduction." (Prescott, 2001)
"The need to minimise waste, 5 packaging is an example area." (Pruce, 2001)
58. It is a disappointment that there is very little policy or action targeted at waste reduction and minimisation.
59. The Governments targets are based on reducing the weight of waste. This means that local authorities and the waste industry concentrate on the weight of materials.
"Waste industry gave equal value in weight to different materials." (Collins, 2001)
While this is important, it only tackles part of the present problems with handling waste. Some wastes are more hazardous than others or can produce hazards in some treatment methods.
"It is important to reduce the quantity of hazardous solid and sludge waste within the waste management hierarchy." (Henry, 2001)
60. The Government should include targets not only for the reduction of waste by weight but also for the reduction of hazardous materials.
61. The last 20 years have seen big changes in attitudes to waste, which are likely to continue. In the light of needed changes to reach the present targets, as well as the likely future changes, the measures proposed do not get to the root issues and may not produce the "step change" that Waste Strategy 2000 itself aims for.
62. The present UK targets risk that we continue to lag behind the best of Europe. We echo the view of the House of Commons Environment Committee (2001) that there is a lack of vision in the strategy. Within the lifespan of the present targets, 2015, they are likely to be superseded by stronger policy from the UK government and Europe.

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Present Situation
Chapter 3: Taking a Wider View

63. Economists constantly urge society to be more efficient. However, when our use of materials and energy is considered we are extremely inefficient and wasteful.

Throwaway Society

64. We live in a throwaway society. Many goods are deliberately made to be used only once and then thrown away. Much of the material that ends up in our bins and in landfill sites spends only the most fleeting of time in our houses; it arrives as packaging and as soon as the product is opened the packaging is thrown away. Most packaging could be reduced by 20% to 50% and a German retailer found that 98% of all secondary packaging was unnecessary (Hawken, 1999). Most of the goods we use have a large hidden use of energy and materials. At every stage of the production process materials are used, often leaving mountains of waste, energy is consumed and transport is needed. All of this rubbish took energy, labour, raw materials and money to produce.
65. In the USA only one percent of the total materials flow ends up still being used six months after the goods are sold. The other 99% is waste, most of it during the production, the rest in packaging and in having only a short useable life (Hawken, 1999). This shows just how much scope there is for reducing waste.

Why does it matter?

66. In the last 30 years, humans have used up 30% of the earths natural capital (Loh, 1998). All of the energy and materials that society uses, largely to end up thrown away as waste, reduces the resources available for the future, creates pollution and often damages the environment.
67. A newspaper (other than Sunday paper) weighs less than a kilogram, but 10 kilograms of materials will have been used in its production. Producing a car involves 15 tonnes of solid waste, as well as large quantities of water that is polluted during its use (Weizsacker, 1998).
68. Many of the resources we use are limited; they cannot be replaced. Oil, gas and coal took millions of years to produce and in the last 200 years we have used up huge reserves. There may still be plenty for the next few decades but at some point they will run out or become so expensive to produce as to be not worth using. They are valuable resources, not just as a fuel, but as the basis for many other products such as plastics. Yet in effect, today we burn or throw away almost all coal, oil and gas we can get our hands on. As well as using up a valuable and limited resource this releases pollutants into the atmosphere.
69. Between 1900 and 2000 the use of many metals increased dramatically: nickel, molybdenum and magnesium by over 200 times, chromium by over 100 times and copper and zinc by over 50 times. Such rates of increase cannot carry on forever. Not only is there a finite amount of these minerals, but to produce a tonne of a metal many more tonnes of rock and earth have to be moved and crushed. The mining and processing of these minerals also pollutes the air and water and causes widespread disruption of land (Weizsacker, 1998).
70. As well as the total volume of resources used there are also major issues about the availability and security of supply. The issue of the security of oil supplies, with all the concerns about possible wars, international upheaval and embargoes, illustrates that total amount of a resource available is not the only issue. If resources become in short supply then the risk of a breakdown in secure availability is likely to increase. The economy needs to be able to readily access resources.
71. Even resources that can renew themselves such as clean water, fish supplies, soil and trees are at risk of mismanagement and overuse. They all take time to recover from damage and if pushed too far may not recover. Fish stocks in oceans around the world are reduced and some have virtually disappeared. Between 1972 and 1992 the catch of Atlantic cod off Newfoundland dropped 95% (Miller, 1996). Fish was a major food source of the poor of the world, but now it is becoming more of a luxury as supplies drop and prices rise. Yet one third of the fish that is harvested is used as fertiliser to repair the damage done to soil.
72. Every step of the production process, including the transport of waste to the landfill site, uses energy. Almost all the energy used comes from the burning of oil, gas and coal. Burning is one of the major sources of carbon dioxide. Human action, especially burning by the major industrialised countries (USA, Western Europe, Japan, etc), is having an effect on the worlds climate. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased from 0.028% 150 years ago to 0.036% now. This may not seem like much but it is an increase of 28% and is the highest level for nearly 500,000 years. What is worse the amount is still rising. This increase in carbon dioxide leads to climate change which results in more frequent and powerful storms and flooding, the spread of diseases, loss of agricultural land and the disappearance of land under the sea.
73. At the same time as using up resources that either cannot be replaced or are used faster than they can be replaced or replenished, we are piling up mountains of rubbish. As the last chapter pointed out the average person in Britain throws away around 8 times their body weight in waste each year. If we take all the waste that is produced in England and Wales by industry, farming, mining, businesses and households it amounts to 400 million tonnes a year; over 7 tonnes for every person.
74. This waste is mainly buried in landfill sites where it takes a long time, if ever, to decompose. The plastic, glass and cans will lie in the ground for centuries to come. It is bad enough to throw away useful material but that is not all that happens. While the rubbish is buried in the ground dangerous chemicals leak out into the air and water. Although modern landfills have plastic liners to collect the contaminated water, leachate, these liners usually have a lifetime of a few decades, yet the rubbish may not decompose to safe materials in less than fifty to several hundred years.

Closing the Loop

75. In the natural world there is really no such thing as waste. Almost any waste matter from one plant or animal is used by another. This was also the case for most of human history, in which most human produced waste rotted away as it was made from plant and animal matter. Waste was not so widely produced as goods were made to last and people made sure that they did last. To repair things was common. Materials that did not rot, such as glass and pottery, when finally disposed of were inert and harmless.
76. Now we have a throwaway world, using resources and energy as if they were unlimited. But clearly they are not. We are robbing future generations of the choices that we have enjoyed. This throwaway society is also producing pollution at every stage of the process, which is harmful to the world and its people today and into the future.
77. Instead of the present one-way flow of materials from production to waste we need a circular flow where materials are used many times. Society needs to close the loop.

Agriculture

78. To grow crops for food and materials, plants need water, air and nutrients. The health and quality of the soil is vital to farming. Yet as we harvest crops we remove important nutrients from the soil. Also, if the organic content of the soil is not maintained, soil structure suffers and it is less able to hold water and air which are important to the health of the plants and the many other organisms in the soil that are important to healthy plant life. In the past most of the crop material that was removed eventually found its way back into the soil, through compost, animal manure or night soil (excreta).
79. Now most of the material is removed and not returned, instead it ends up in landfill sites or burnt in incinerators. To compensate for this loss and maintain the nutrients in the soil, large quantities of synthetic chemical fertilisers are applied. The production of these requires mining, energy use and transportation. In many cases too much fertiliser is applied so that some is washed off into water systems where it can harm many life-forms including people. It is even harder to maintain the structure of the soil. Fertilisers alone will not do this. The organic content of soils in England and Wales, as in many other countries, has noticeably declined over the last 20 years (DETR, 1999).
80. Yet there is an alternative to declining soil quality and mounting piles of waste. Much of what we throw away could be composted and used to improve the quality of soil and the level of nutrients. This is a very clear and simple example of closing the loop.

Reduction of Use

81. As well as a need to close the loop by treating what is called waste as a resource, society needs to reduce the amount of material and energy consumed. This does not mean that everyone should live in poverty. What it means is changing how we make things so that quality is maintained or even improved while using less resources. To some this may seem an impossible dream. However there is a growing wealth of research and practical examples of how our use of resources can be cut by four or even ten fold. This is the Factor 4 and Factor 10 approach.
82. Some waste reduction examples
  • Houses in cold climates like Scandinavia are being built that are kept warm in winter with virtually no heating, instead they capture the heat from the sun and what is produced inside by people and machines, such as the fridge, TV, computer, cooker, etc (Weizsacker, 1998).
  • In contrast, in warm climates a lot of energy is used to cool buildings. Good design and construction, natural ventilation, trees, etc can be used to cool most buildings with little use of energy and usually a much more pleasant environment for the users (Weizsacker, 1998).
  • In 1985 the average German paper mill used 21 kilograms of water to produce one kilogram of paper. The best factory today uses 1.5 kilograms (Weizsacker, 1998).
  • A company called Interface Carpets decided to no longer landfill old carpets there are some 2.3 million tonnes of Interface carpets lying in landfill but to recycle and re-use instead. Now old carpets are returned to the factories where they are separated and then re-manufactured. This has dramatically reduced waste in production, eliminated waste at the end of the carpets life and saved the company money (Hawken, 1999).
83. There are many opportunities to use what is classed as waste as a resource and also to reduce the amount of materials used both by more efficient production and extending the life of products.

Zero Waste

84. Waste minimisation should be the top priority in any strategy dealing with waste. Even recycling, although far preferable to throwing away, is still dealing with the end of the problem. Government and business should concentrate their efforts and resources on minimising and even eliminating waste. There are companies that have set themselves the goal of Zero Waste. Such a fundamental change in outlook leads to an examination of all the companys processes and activities. It usually gives spectacular results (Hawken, 1999). They may not totally succeed in Zero Waste, but the shift in outlook produces many benefits for the company and society.
85. Some local authorities have also adopted a Zero Waste goal (Murray, 2001).
"Zero waste is the only target in the long term" (Collins, 2001)
Although this would probably never be achieved, as an aim it has the effect of leading to thorough discussion about waste and a re-examination of attitudes and ways of handling waste.

Present day - Throwaway Society

Sustainable Society
By reducing the amount of materials and energy used to make goods, moving to renewable energy, re-using goods, and recycling materials the amount of waste and pollution could be drastically reduced as well as the need for new materials.

The Common Good

The Future

86. A shift from a throwaway to a Zero Waste society will provide overall benefits for society and the environment. It will also tackle the grave injustice of the present production of waste. Clearly the high level of consumption of materials and production of waste and pollution is unjust to future generations.
87. Bishop Ambrose Griffiths (2001) stated that humans should act not just as consumers but as "responsible stewards" of the world. The world is not only for use now but for future generations as well. This idea of a responsibility for future generations is a powerful moral argument that has widespread acceptance. Although not everyone would accept the theological basis of the Bishops argument that the world is a gift from God, most people would accept that we should aim to pass on a healthy, safe and well resourced world to future generations.
88. The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) urged the international community to adopt a path of sustainable development. This it defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Similarly the British Government recognises that sustainable development includes a responsibility to include all of society today and for the future with the definition "A better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come" (DETR, 1999b). There are strong scientific as well as ethical reasons why our use of resources and production of waste has to change.

Justice Today

89. As well as a responsibility for future generations, Bishop Ambrose Griffiths pointed to the responsibility of fairness to all humanity, so that the principle of equal rights to all people should underlie the principle that action should be for the "common good". He distinguished the common good from the greatest good. The greatest good, which adds up all the good, can be deeply unjust as a great good for a few can hide many peoples suffering. The common good does not accept the greater good of the minority while the majority suffers.
"The common good meant that everybody was of value 5 common good for the poor as well as the rich" (Griffiths, 2001)
An ethical priority is not to harm the poor or disadvantaged in the name of the greatest good. Sometimes a great deal of welfare, or good, for a few can mask a lack of welfare, or good, for the many.
90. The use of resources across the world clearly reveals the lack of common good. As already pointed out the production of waste in the UK varies with wealth, the poorest 10% of society produce less than one quarter of the waste of the richest 10%. On a world wide scale the inequality of wealth, of access to goods and production of wealth is even greater. Roughly 20% of the worlds population have access to 80% of the worlds resources while the poor 80% have the use of only 20% (Henry, 2001)
Commodity or ProductPercent of World Total
Aluminium Use86
Paper Use81
Steel Use80
Meat Consumption61
Hazardous waste Produced90
Carbon Releases to Atmosphere70

Production and Use by the Developed World (Brown, 1996)

91. As well as having the least access to resources, the poor of the world often suffer the worst from pollution and environmental damage. Climate change with increased storms and rising sea water will hit the poor of the world hardest, although they have done the least to cause the change.
92. The present economic policies advocated by the World Trade Organisation which concentrate on increasing globalisation while doing little or nothing to deal with justice, environmental and employment issues is not working (Griffiths, 2001). Its present policies are a barrier to tackling the wasteful use of resources, the world inequality in access to resources and the widespread production of waste. Changing taxation, removal of subsidies on wasteful production and allowing countries to take action to protect their environment would all enhance the quality of life internationally and the health of the planet (Roodman 1996 & 1997; Hawken, 1999). We hope the British government in future international negotiations will urge that sustainable production is the priority of the world economy.

Conclusions

93. The present injustice of the patterns of resource consumption with gross lack of fairness between parts of the world and towards future generations seriously challenges our present attitudes to waste. The throwing away of valuable resources as waste and the pollution produced, with direct impacts on health, are further reason to change course. Many companies that have shifted to waste reduction have found major financial benefits.
94. Britain is generally lagging behind other European countries and sections in North America. A shift to waste reduction would provide benefits to the economy, society and the environment both now and in the future.
95. We would urge the Government to push for a change in the priorities of the World Trade Organisation so that sustainable use of resources and greater international justice are much more important.
96. The Government should introduce targets and support programmes on waste minimisation as part of the waste strategy.
97. ONE North East, as the lead economic policy body in the region, should have a waste minimisation programme to support businesses and councils that are moving to reduce the use of materials and energy in the production of goods and support production of goods to last. This could include supporting research and innovation, start-up support for business, co-ordinating activity (maybe as one of the business clusters it seeks to encourage) and contributing to providing public information and raising awareness.

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Present Situation
Chapter 4: Newcastle's Present Waste and Policy

Present Waste

98. Newcastle City Council has a responsibility to collect household and, if requested, commercial and industrial waste from within the city area and to arrange for its disposal.
99. In 1999/2000 the Council collected 122,124 tonnes of household waste and a further 71,488 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste giving a total of 193,612 tonnes of municipal waste. The household waste amounts to 1.01 tonnes per household a year. This is less than the national average of 1.21 tonnes per household (Rowland, 2001).
100. Over the last 10 years household waste has been rising at around 1.5% a year (Henry, 2001). However in the last couple of years the rate has increased to 4.5% growth a year. This may be due to exceptional changes such as the introduction of wheelie bins rather than a long-term change in the habits of the city's population (Rowland, 2001).
101. There is no detailed analysis of the composition of Newcastle's household waste. It is assumed that it is similar to the national average. Newcastle Council is presently involved in a European research project to investigate in detail what is in the city's waste.
Material Percent Composition by Weight Tonnes
Paper3340,301
Organic3036,637
Glass910,991
Cans89,770
Plastics67,327
Other1417,097
TOTAL100122,124

Newcastle's 1999/2000 Household Waste, based on National Figures (Rowland, 2001)

102. At present almost all of Newcastle's household waste is sent to landfill as only 3.6%, collected from the local Bring Schemes, is recycled.

History of Newcastle's Waste Policy

103. From 1979 until 1998 the Byker Plant, which removed metals for recycling and produced fuel (Refuse Derived Fuel in pellets) for the incinerator was a major part of Newcastle's waste strategy. This diverted approximately 40,000 tonnes from direct landfill to incineration which reduced its weight to around 10,000 tonnes of landfill The incinerator produced heat that was used in Byker and electricity that was sold to the national grid. (See Chapter 7 for more on the Byker Plant.)
104. However, over the years the Byker plant had suffered various difficulties including strong odours from the sorting of waste and the drying of the fuel; incidents such as the falling of 'black snow' (large quantities of soot and ash) on the nearby houses from the chimney; and problems with the original boilers and main pipes that meant they had to be entirely replaced. The recent tightening of environmental legislation meant that the level of various emissions from the incinerator were higher than permitted. For the last two years the site has been used to collect waste before sending it to landfill. Since 1998, the heating for Byker district has been by burning coal in the plant.

Present Waste Strategy

105. In 1997 Newcastle Council decided it needed a new waste strategy and in 1998 began negotiations for a new contract. At the time the preferred option was to increase the incinerator to a capacity of 80,000 tonnes of waste with the addition of 15,000 tonnes of shredded rubber tyres. This would produce electricity for sale and continued heat for the Byker district heating scheme. There is also a plan to take mixed waste to produce a 'grey compost' which would be suitable to cover landfill sites, but not suitable for gardening or sale.
106. In April 2001 Newcastle signed a 20 year contract with SITA, a multinational waste management company, for Newcastle City's waste. It is a phased contract. The first phase involves the redevelopment of the Byker plant so that it can extract metals for recycling, produce a mixed waste stream that is suitable to produce a 'grey compost' and has the potential to produce a Refuse Derived Fuel that can be burnt to produce energy. The contract proposes to increase the number of bring schemes across the city. There are plans to redevelop a transfer station either in Benwell or Newburn which will remove green materials, cardboard and building materials for recycling, before sending the waste on to Byker for further treatment. The second phase would involve a new incinerator on the Byker site which would burn the Refuse Derived Fuel to generate electricity and provide heat for Byker (Rowland, 2001). The contract has stabilised the financial position but not made savings; there is a �1.5 million loan to be repaid.
107. In addition to the contract with SITA, the Council has invited businesses to bid for a contract for kerbside collection of some dry recyclable materials to start in 2002.
108. The Council has gained �300,000 funding to improve the Civic Amenity Site at Walbottle so that it can collect hardcore and timber for recycling and green materials for composting. It will support moves to reduce junk mail, encourage home composting and raise awareness. Area based Eco-panels involving Newcastle residents are at an early stage of development. Panel representatives from across the city come together with others involved in waste in an Eco-partnership.
109. The Council's planned strategy is to meet the following objectives
  • Satisfy the Government's Waste Strategy 2000
  • To stabilise the cash limited budget
  • Produce an affordable and sustainable waste strategy
The Council hopes that this strategy will secure community commitment (Rowland, 2001).
110. The summary diversion of materials from landfill is outlined it the table below.
Tonnes
Composting5,000
Metals Recovery4,500
Newsprint/Paper6,000
Glass3,000
Bring Schemes4,500
Building Materials21,000
'Grey Compost' (Landfill)40,000
Refuse Derived Fuel60,000
TOTAL144,000

Newcastle Council's Proposed Targets for Diversion from Landfill (Rowland, 2001)

111. The Government has set in Waste Strategy 2000 the following targets:
  • That by 2015, 33% of household waste should be recycled and composted
  • That by 2020, municipal biodegradable waste sent to landfill should be reduced to only 35% of the 1995 total
  • That by 2015, 67% of municipal waste should be recycled, composted and used in energy for waste

Comment on Targets

Recycling and Composting

112. The Council has recycling targets for the removal of steel and aluminium at Byker by the use of electromagnets, collection through bring schemes and kerbside collection and collection of garden waste at Civic Amenity sites for composting.
MaterialsTonnes
Metals Recovery4,500
Newsprint & Paper6,000
Glass3,000
Bring Schemes4,500
Total Household waste to recycle18,000
Composting of garden waste5,000
TOTAL RECYCLE & COMPOST23,000

Newcastle Council's Proposed Targets for Recycling and Composting of Household Waste (Rowland, 2001)

113. Compared to the present household waste total of 122,124 tonnes, this 23,000 tonnes is a recycling rate of household waste of 19%. However if the waste stream grows by 2% a year, which is modest compared to national trends, by 2015 the total household waste will be around 160,000 tonnes. The government target for then is to recycle 33% of household waste. In comparison Newcastle's proposals would result in a rate of recycling and composting of 23,000 tonnes, only 15%.
114. The Council strategy also includes a target to treat 40,000 tonnes of mixed waste from Byker to create a 'grey compost'. This will not be suitable for use on farmland, public parks or gardens because of the risk of contamination. However it is intended to use it to cover old landfill sites. (The entire issue of compost is subject to debate, which will be considered further in Chapter 9) The Council is relying on the 40,000 tonnes of 'grey compost' to reach the recycling target. If it is included Newcastle will recycle and compost 63,000 tonnes which is 51% of the present household waste stream and nearly 40% of a possible 160,000 tonne waste stream in 2015.
115. The other two targets for diverting waste from landfill are for the recycling of 21,000 tonnes of building materials and the burning of 60,000 tonnes of Refuse Derived Fuel. These will not have an impact on the target to recycle 33% of household waste as the building materials are mainly not household waste, and burning in Energy from Waste recovery does not count as recycling.

Reducing Biodegradable Waste Sent to Landfill

116. The diversion of building materials, some of which is biodegradable, and the burning of waste will both reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. These on top of the 'grey compost' (if accepted as diversion from landfill), compost of garden matter and recycling of paper and a portion of the materials collected at bring schemes will reduce the amount going to landfill by at least 111,000 tonnes. Although nationally there are no exact figures for biodegradable waste, as Newcastle's was around 110,000 tonnes in 1995, these proposals would exceed the Government's target of reducing it to 35%.
Tonnes
Composting5,000
Newsprint/Paper6,000
Grey Compost (Landfill)40,000
Refuse Derived Fuel60,000
TOTAL111,000

Newcastle Council's Proposed Targets for Diversion of Biodegradable Matter from Landfill (Rowland, 2001)

Recycle, Compost and Energy from Waste

117. The production of Refuse Derived Fuel will count towards the Government's target to recover 67% of total municipal waste by 2015 through recycling, composting and recovery through Energy from Waste. Combining all Newcastle's proposed removals - recycle, compost, 'grey compost' and energy recovery - gives a total of 144,000 tonnes. Newcastle Council's proposals would reach 74% of the present total municipal waste of 193,612. If by 2015 the total municipal waste rises by 2% a year it will amount to 250,000 tonnes and the total amount recycled, composted and recovered will by 57%.
Tonnes
Composting5,000
Grey Compost (Landfill)40,000
Refuse Derived Fuel60,000
Building Materials21,000
Metals Recovery4,500
Newsprint & Paper6,000
Glass3,000
Bring Schemes4,500
TOTAL144,000

Newcastle Council's Proposed Targets for Recycling, Compost and Energy Recovery (Rowland, 2001)

Comments

118. The proposed changes in waste policy would bring about a big shift from the present position: a recycling rate of 3.6% with the remainder going to landfill. However, there are questions about the planned policy.
119. There are doubts as to the quality, use and even eligibility of the 'grey compost' because it is derived from mixed waste that is likely to be contaminated by animal products (e.g. risk of Foot and Mouth disease), heavy metals and plastics. (The issue of compost is discussed in Chapter 9.) 'Grey compost' has the major role in the Council's strategy to reach all its targets. If it is not accepted as compost, the strategy falls short of the Government's targets and other composting and recycling initiatives would need to be put in place to meet the targets.
120. The public was not aware of the 'grey compost' trials, although Rowland (2001) stated there was "no problem with public involvement". We recommend a strategic objective to involve and inform the public, proactively. The new eco-partnership as well as BAN Waste can help to fulfil this process.
121. The use of Refuse Derived Fuel in an Energy from Waste plant, an incinerator in ordinary language, is highly controversial. (The issue of incineration and other forms of Energy from Waste are discussed in Chapter 7) One of the main reasons for this inquiry and report is the high level of concern and opposition from residents to a new incinerator.
122. If waste continues to grow at even a modest rate many of the Government's targets become very difficult to achieve with Newcastle's present strategy.
123. It should be noted that the Government accepts that its target to compost, recycle and recover 67% of household waste could be met entirely by recycling and composting, there is no compulsion to use Energy from Waste.

Contract

124. Newcastle City Council has signed a 20-year contract with SITA for the handling of the city's waste. The Council also intends to agree a contract on kerbside collection of some dry recyclable materials in the near future. Unfortunately both the contract with SITA and the proposed new contract on kerbside collection are not available to the public as they are "Commercially confidential". A 20-year contract could produce conflicts in the future between a previously signed contract and the democratic wishes of the city as decided in elections.
125. When asked, Rowland, Director of Cityworks said that the contract was "commercially confidential" (Rowland, 2001). When Taylor, North East Director of SITA, was asked about the contract he confirmed that it was "commercial and confidential", but suggested that "the vast majority of contractual questions would be best directed to the City Council" (Taylor, 2001). The Select Committee's Chair pointed out that "the City Council had said much the same and that SITA might give answers" (Bennett, 2001).
126. The issue of confidentiality of contracts raises serious wider issues about the democratic accountability of local government services. Contracts are signed on behalf to the public yet the public cannot see them.
127. We urge the Council, with the District Auditor, to ensure that as much information as possible, including costs per year, is in the public domain to ensure democratic debate.
128. There have been major public concerns about the dependence of the SITA contract on the use of incineration and 'grey compost'. Since then, Newcastle Council in response has agreed to a full debate, including the BAN Waste contribution, on the city's waste policy before any long-term decisions are taken.
129. Although the contract for SITA is for 20 years, both the Council (Rowland, 2001) and SITA (Taylor, 2001) have clearly stated that it is a flexible contract; there is no fixed commitment to incineration; it can accommodate wide changes after the publication of BAN Waste's Final Report later in 2002; and the following public debate.
130. There are many reasons why any major decisions on waste policy should await a full public discussion. (This will be further considered in Chapters 11 & 13.) Within the contract with SITA only �110,000 a year is set aside for recycling, education, etc from a total budget of approximately �100 million. We would like to see targets for educational outreach on waste and resources allocated to appoint qualified personnel in the community and education sectors.

Choices

130. Newcastle at present has a very low recycling rate. The Director of Cityworks acknowledged two reasons for this situation. On the one hand there had been no pressure from the Government to recycle until recently.
"The council did not have targets, because the pressure wasn't on in terms of the Government ... now the pressure was on." (Rowland, 2001)
Also the Council had relied too much on the Byker incinerator.
"Had relied too much on the reclamation plant and maybe ... got lazy ... perhaps it was used as an excuse." (Rowland, 2001)
131. Newcastle Councils present preferred strategy is driven by the need to meet the Government's targets.
"The intention was to meet targets set by the Government Waste Strategy 2000." (Rowland, 2001)
132. Although clearly the Council has to aim to reach the Government's targets, we would urge a more long-term approach that embraces the spirit of the Waste Strategy 2000 of "breaking the link between economic growth and waste production" and "putting waste which is produced to good use" and the issues discussed in the previous Chapter.
133. The main approach of Newcastle Council's proposed waste policy is still based on the old tradition of disposal, it is still about how to get rid of waste, rather than "putting waste which is produced to good use" as Waste Strategy 2000 recommends.
134. We would urge the Council to adopt, instead of a policy based on disposing of waste, one that views waste as a resource to be used for the benefit of the economy and society. This strategy should aim for treatments at the top of the hierarchy - re-use, recycling and composting.
135. We urge Newcastle Council to consider adopting two aims:
  • To cut waste disposal to landfill in half in 5 years by 2007, this to be part of Newcastle's vision of a City of Culture.
  • To support the goal of Zero Waste as a long-term vision

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Chapter 5: Materials

Introduction

136. What is thrown out is very mixed, containing many materials. This is one of the major problems in dealing with today's household and municipal waste. Some materials are easily re-used, some are much more difficult to even recycle or compost. Our rubbish bins also include some dangerous and hazardous materials. This chapter looks at
  • the main components of the waste stream,
  • the amounts of waste,
  • the present and possible uses of waste
  • some difficulties and the opportunities.
137. The main components of Newcastle's waste stream are outlined below.
Percent of Total Weight (Tonnes)
Paper3340,301
Organic3036,637
Glass910,991
Cans89,770
Plastics67,327
Other1417,097
TOTAL100122,124

Composition of Newcastle's Household Waste in the year 2000, based on National Figures

138. As explained in the previous chapter these figures represent the national breakdown of amounts and the actual figures in Newcastle will be somewhat different. Amounts will vary with the seasons, income of households, etc. To gain a clearer insight of proportions, figures recently gathered in Hampshire (MEL Research, 1999) have also been used, although we recognise these can only give a broad indication as the facts are likely to be different in Newcastle from Hampshire. However for the purposes of this chapter the approximate amounts will serve. Unless otherwise indicated the portions are by weight.

Paper

139. The category of Paper includes newspapers, magazines, telephone books, other recyclable paper (not used in packaging), packaging (card & paper), liquid cartons, cardboard and other paper.
140. Newspapers are around 10% of the total household waste, with magazines and other recyclable paper each a further 5%. In total these amount to 20% of the waste stream. There is a ready market for these to be recycled, already 70% of the paper made in Britain is from recycled paper (Waste Strategy 2000). At the moment purchasers pay around �20-30 a tonne (Moore, 2001; Jose, 2001) for long-term large contracts. There are two large paper making plants in Britain, in Kent and North Wales, that use mainly recycled paper for their supplies. The Government has approved a new paper mill production line at Aylesford in Kent, which will significantly increase the demand for waste paper.
141. The paper and card used in packaging, 5%, are more difficult to recycle as they often have food remains on them. However this material is readily composted or incinerated.
142. Some cardboard is readily recycled and all of it can be composted or incinerated.
143. Cartons for liquids (less than 0.5%) are a problem as they often contain a mix of card, foil and plastics.

Organics

144. This includes a mix of materials derived from plants and animals that will decompose. The main two groupings are:
  • Garden waste, about 15% in Hampshire, including lawn cuttings, plant pruning, weeds, and dead plants from the end of the season. The amount will obviously vary with households and seasons.
  • Kitchen waste, about 15%, is mainly food scraps and waste. It contains fruit and vegetable peelings, un-eaten food, meat scraps, etc.
145. Most of these materials can be composted although there are some health and safety issues to do with meat, in particular, which will be considered in Chapter 9.
146. Already many people carry out home composting, taking what might be rubbish and turning it back into good soil. In Newcastle it is estimated that some 6,000 households, 5%, carry out home composting with an average reduction of � tonne of waste per household (Tinling, 2001). This amounts to 1,500 tonnes of waste prevented a year. At the same time the soil in these people's gardens is improved and the use of peat and fertiliser is probably reduced with further environmental benefits.
147. Newcastle Council and the home composters are to be commended for their actions and this should be further supported and encouraged by the Council.

Glass

148. Waste glass comes mainly from drinks bottles, particularly alcohol, and containers for foods, such as jam, pickles, etc. Around half the glass is clear, with most of the rest green, from beer and wine bottles, and only a small portion of brown glass.
149. The UK produces 1,800,000 tonnes of glass containers a year and in addition 400,000 tonnes, mainly of green glass bottles, are imported. Of these 2,200,000 tonnes of glass packaging, 550,000 tonnes, 25%, are recycled at present (England, 2001).
150. In Britain glass is largely recycled in that the containers are smashed up, the glass melted and then made into new containers, rather than the containers being used again. There is no glass recycling plant in the North East. The recycled glass can be used again as glass but there are growing secondary uses such as in road tarmac, reflective signs, filters, etc. Although the raw materials for glass, basically sand, are common the energy saved in not making new glass and instead re-melting existing glass is significant. For every 10% of the glass in a furnace that is recycled there is 2% energy saving on producing the new glass. In theory up to 85% of a glass container can be made from recycled glass without any weakening (England, 2001).
151. There are problems with the imbalance of green glass available and the amount of green glass goods made in Britain. Clear glass is the most expensive to produce, because of the higher qualities and cost of the raw materials. If green, brown and clear glass are mixed this is less valuable than when separated, as the clear glass is contaminated by the colour. Recycled glass is purchased for between �20-30 a tonne (Moore, 2001).
152. In Britain very few drinks bottles are re-used. In other countries such as Germany, where 90% of bottles were returned (Robson, 2001), Denmark and parts of the USA and Canada bottles are used many times, having been returned empty, then washed, re-filled and sold again. These systems rely on government policy, usually some form of deposit scheme, and standard shapes of bottles. The advantages are in the energy saved in melting and re-making the bottles, diverting bottles from the waste stream and providing a traditional source for children to earn pocket money. There was contradictory evidence with several witnesses saying that the energy costs of returning the bottles to bottlers made this system wasteful, although the glass if broken up and re-melted also had to transported, so using energy. It seems that the main reasons are the present economics that favour disposal "it is cheaper to smash and start again" (Martin, 2001); the fashion driven nature of packaging so that different drinks companies want distinct bottle shapes so limiting the opportunities for inter-company use; the reluctance of supermarkets to deal with returned bottles; and the lack of any government policy in favour of re-use (England, 2001; Robson, 2001).
153. Although this is an issue beyond the scope of Newcastle Council and most householders, we believe that there should be a thorough investigation into the relative costs and benefits of recycling and re-using drinks bottles, drawing on the experience of the countries with successful re-use policies. If it is found that there are benefits in re-use the Government should take action to support its widespread adoption in Britain.
154. Fluorescent tubes are a form of glass that poses environmental problems as they contain harmful chemicals, including mercury, cadmium and lead. At the moment the tubes are usually just smashed and thrown away. Wyecycle in Kent runs a collection service for old tubes (Boden, 2001) and there are factories in Manchester and Glasgow that handle the tubes.
155. A scheme to separately collect and deal with fluorescent tubes should be introduced.

Cans and Metals

156. Cans are mainly used for food, pet food and beverages. Steel cans, mostly used for food and pet food, make up 4% of waste by weight. There is a small portion of steel drinks cans. There is a well established market for recycled steel, with prices of �14 a tonne (Jose, 2001)
157. Aluminium is much lighter than steel, so contributes much less weight to the total waste. Aluminium is mainly from drinks cans and cooking foil. There is a well established market for recycled aluminium with prices of �600-700 tonne (Jose, 2001).
158. Both steel and aluminium are also part of the household waste in other forms, from thrown away screws and nails to broken furniture and toys. These amount to over one percent of the total waste in Hampshire.
159. Steel can be extracted from mixed waste by passing the waste under an electromagnet. A similar process can also be used to extract aluminium. This was the case at the Byker plant until 1998 and it is planned that after the plant's refurbishment, a magnet will be used again.

Plastics

160. Plastics are divided into film plastic, mainly bags and packaging film, and dense plastic, mainly bottles, packaging, and assorted others. In terms of weight plastic film and dense plastic are roughly equal. The plastic film, often used to package food, can have elements of food still on it, which makes it difficult to recycle. Hard plastic on the other hand is readily recycled. Although the mix of different plastics does pose some problems, there is a market for recycled plastic with prices of �120-180 tonne (Jose, 2001).
161. Plastics generally are light for their volume, and in the case of containers occupy a lot of space for not a lot of material, so they are bulky to collect unless compacted.
162. The standardisation of plastic packaging materials is likely to ease the task of sorting. This could include consistency of plastic in the bottle and the top of a container. The Government should consider legislation to encourage such a change.

Others

163. Clearly this covers a multitude of materials and objects. Among the most important either in terms of weight or impact are textiles and shoes, nappies, wood, other building and DIY materials, household goods, consumer batteries and paint.

Textiles and shoes

164. There is a market for old clothes and other textiles for recycling (Boden, 2001). It is estimated that 25% of discarded textiles are re-used and recycled. Some useable clothes, shoes and soft furnishings are either re-sold or distributed by charities in some cases abroad. Other remains are recycled in uses such as fillings and wipes (Waste Strategy, 2000).

Disposable Nappies

165. Disposable nappies are a significant portion of the waste stream amounting to between 2.5% (MEL Research, 1999) and 4% (Project Integra, 2001) and can pose significant problems in the waste stream. They are a mix of plastic, paper and organic matter. A child by the age of 2 can have used up to 20 trees in nappies. They take a long time to decompose in a landfill site, up to 200 years, and can release harmful chemicals and viruses. Similarly, incineration of nappies can produce harmful chemicals. There are also health risks to the babies from wearing nappies that have been treated with absorbent gelling material.
166. However, they have grown in popularity with parents for understandable reasons, so an attempt simply to urge parents to return to traditional towel nappies would meet opposition, while banning them seems unlikely and unworkable. This is an area where real alternative solutions are needed.
167. If the nappies were made of easily biodegradable materials, they would with their contents, once thoroughly decomposed produce excellent soil improver. Another option is to provide disposable biodegradable liners and a public laundry service for real nappies (Project Integra, 2001). Wyecycle gives a �6 a week rebate to households that use real nappies (Boden, 2001).
168. Newcastle Council should investigate and facilitate a good alternative to disposable nappies being thrown in the rubbish such as a nappy laundering service and biodegradable nappies which can be composted in advanced systems (Chapter 9).

Wood

169. Wood has a use both as a material and to be composted. As wood is biodegradable, it is included in the targets to reduce the amount going to landfill. There are markets for wood timber but at this stage it is largely undeveloped, in part as local authorities do not commonly collect timber separately. This is both for re-use and to be recycled into paper, card and chipboard. Wood, both green wood from gardening and some timber can be composted. There are problems with some treated wood as the chemicals may be harmful to health and the environment (Waste Strategy 2000). Most wood that is collected and recycled is not through the normal rounds but via Civic Amenity Sites and special collection rounds.
170. The recycling and re-use of wood, both the practicality and the market opportunities, should be investigated.

Other building and DIY materials,

171. At present these go to Civic Amenity sites, into the general waste or in some cases are fly-tipped. There is within this stream several potentially recyclable materials including plasterboard, rubble, wiring and pipes. The plans to develop good quality and well-run Civic Amenity sites (Rowland, 2001) will hopefully increase the level of recycling and reduce the amount going to landfill or fly-tipping.

Household goods

172. This includes a wide range of old furniture, electrical goods from computers to hi-fis, cookers, fridges, etc. Rather than be thrown away these can in some cases be re-used directly or after some repairs or modifications.
173. There already exist in Newcastle and the region a number of schemes that re-use household goods and we would urge these to be supported, strengthened and increased in Newcastle. Financial help could include at least receiving the cost of the landfill that is saved by re-use.
174. The Children's Warehouse in Newcastle does a great deal to re-use materials and provides enjoyment for many children. It collects a multitude of materials that otherwise would be thrown away, some 3,000 tonnes a year from businesses and passes it on to groups and individuals for a range of new uses, particularly children's development and play (Malone, 2001).
175. They have now started a ReByte scheme to take 'old' computers, although many are only a few years old and have nothing wrong, only being replaced by companies upgrading. Some are immediately re-useable, others are upgraded with some parts replaced and some are stripped for the useful parts and materials. They estimate that there are a great many computers either going to skips or lying in cupboards that could be usefully re-used by many people and schools that presently do not have access to a computer. This process would reduce waste, provide jobs and improve many people's skills and access to new technology (Malone, 2001).
176. Renew North East, based in Gateshead, takes discarded electrical white goods such as cookers, fridges and washing machines. They mainly come from the exchanges done by Comet for new sales. The white goods are either repaired and upgraded for re-sale or are stripped down and all the parts sent for recycling. Old fridges that are not energy efficient are stripped down. The fridges are also treated to remove the polluting coolants and insulating material. Renew provides training for unemployed young people, reduces waste and provides economic but safe and guaranteed white goods for sale (King, 2001). A similar but larger scheme in Liverpool, CREATE, that has been going for 5 years still is only scratching the surface of the quantity of white goods available for use, as it deals with only 15% of the total from Dixons alone (Redmayne, 2001).
177. Community Transport in Newcastle collects furniture and soft furnishings in the wider Tyneside area. Most of this is either re-sold at low prices or distributed via agencies to refugees, etc. The remainder of the furniture is disposed of. At the moment the wood, etc is not recycled, although Community Transport would wish to if the facilities were available. Community Transport also provide training (Leadbitter & Shipley, 2001).
178. All these schemes have the advantage of reducing the amount of waste disposed, often providing training and employment for people who would otherwise be unemployed and providing affordable household goods.

Consumer Batteries

179. There are serious problems dealing with the 600 million consumer batteries used in toys, radios, etc. that are thrown away each year. They contain a cocktail of harmful chemicals, that whether disposed to landfill, incineration or composting eventually find their way into the environment. At present there is no safe disposal facility in Britain, the nearest ones are in France or Spain (Stevens, 2001)
180. There is a need for a separate collection route for consumer batteries to avoid them contaminating any later treatment of the waste stream.
181. The UK government should act to ensure that there is a safe disposal/recycle facility for consumer batteries within the country.

Paint

182. Old paint at the moment is commonly thrown into the mixed waste or disposed of down the drains. Neither is good for the environment; in fact, this is a very harmful practice. It is estimated that there could be as much as 100 million litres of paint stored in homes across the UK, this would work out at around 500,000 litres in Newcastle (Community Re>Paint, 2001).
183. Community Re>Paint provides a way of dealing with all this potentially harmful waste in constructive ways (Stevens, 2001). A Community Re>Paint scheme collects old paint through a drop off point, possibly linked to the improved Civic Amenity sites, collected as part of a kerbside collection or at facilities in the major sellers of paint such as DIY stores. The paint is then sorted and is given free to eligible sectors of the community (local charity, community and voluntary groups) and public agencies that provide support services to people in genuine need. There is no Community Re>Paint scheme on Tyneside. Newcastle Council is investigating supporting such a scheme (Rowland, 2001).
184. We urge Newcastle Council to support the establishment of a Community Re>Paint scheme.

Comments

185. When the waste stream is analysed it is clear that the vast majority of materials have the potential to be re-used and recycled. One of the problems posed by the present system of waste handling is that all the different materials are mixed together with the likelihood that they contaminate each other. For example vegetable peelings can be easily composted while clean paper and plastic can be recycled. But if mixed together the plastic makes it very difficult to compost all of it and the food makes it much harder to recycle the plastic and paper. On their own the materials have a possible future use, mixed together they are much less use or worth.
186. Many of the household goods that are presently thrown away have a potential for re-use or at least for the component parts to be usefully recycled. Newcastle Council presently offers a free collection service for bulky goods. This is welcome. But the collection should include an evaluation for potential re-use and reclamation.
187. We would urge that the collection service is extended so that these objects, wherever possible, are sent on the route of re-use or recycling of their materials, rather than for disposal. As well as environmental benefits, such activities also provide training and employment and low cost, but good quality goods. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which over the next 5 years will require producers to take responsibly for their products, will increase the level of this method of operation for electrical goods.
188. We commend the existing operations that re-use household goods or recycle the components, but believe that these operations should be greatly extended so that most electrical goods and household furnishings are treated in this manner. This would have environmental, economic and social benefits. Newcastle Council can provide support both in supplying goods, such as computers, and in the use of the goods after refurbishment, such as dramatically increasing the number of computers in schools or supplying furniture and white goods to those in need. Passing on the financial savings of avoiding landfill would also help.
189. A number of problem materials such as consumer batteries, nappies, fluorescent light tubes and paint need to be separated from the general waste stream to be treated separately. As well as action by Newcastle Council, the Government should consider the introduction of specific regulations to prevent these materials entering into the waste stream. This could possibly be a producer responsibility to organise safe and separate collection and treatment of these objects.
190. There are objects which are made of a mix of materials, such as cartons for juice, which are very difficult to recycle or re-use. Some of the chemicals used in the treatment of timber are harmful to the environment and health. The Government should consider legislation to prohibit the production of any goods that cannot readily be re-used, recycled or composted.

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Handling Materials
Chapter 6: Landfill

191. There are a number of ways of handling waste. Just as the composition of waste has changed and is continuing to change, the same is true of methods of handling waste. This section of the report considers the most common ways presently available. It is roughly in the same order as the waste hierarchy, starting at the bottom with landfill and working upwards to recycle and re-use.
192. There is no totally safe way of disposing of mixed household waste. Each type of waste, by its nature, poses different potential problems. Different types of waste also have different potential uses and benefits. Obviously the more waste that can be separated out, and re-used, recycled and composted so that it is not wasted, the better.

Landfill: History and Problems

193. Landfill is basically dumping waste into a hole in the ground and leaving it. This has a long history, going back thousands of years. However, there is very little in common between a village midden and a modern landfill site. The materials that are discarded have changed from being almost entirely compostable plant and animal matter or inert materials such as pottery and stone. Landfill today deals with a complex mix of many different materials which includes potentially harmful substances some of which react with each other. The quantities that were discarded in the past were also very small compared to the vast volumes thrown away today.
194. The treatment of waste before putting it into the landfill site is often minimal, perhaps involving passing it under an electromagnet to remove steel and aluminium, and crushing the waste so that it uses less space. The rate of decomposing in a landfill site is very slow. Some newspapers after 30-40 years in the ground can still be read and food often has not rotted after 10 years (Miller, 1999).
195. In Britain, unlike some European countries, landfill has been the usual and widespread method of dealing with waste. Britain has plenty of holes in the ground. Across England and Wales over 80% of municipal waste goes to landfill. In the recent past it was even higher. Newcastle presently sends over 95% of its waste to landfill. Many landfill sites, which were poorly designed or regulated, did cause and are still causing major problems. A number of sites have had to have expensive work done to limit or repair the damage from air and water pollution. Landfill sites can have problems including pollution of water, release of harmful and dangerous gases sometimes even causing explosions, attracting bird and animal pests, noise, dirt and traffic. At new sites, these problems can, to a certain extent, be overcome.
196. Water flows through landfill sites, both from rainwater and from liquids within the waste. This passes through the waste, in various stages of decomposition, sometimes with toxic and harmful chemicals. Almost everything that goes into landfill will be releasing chemicals, and water is very good at absorbing and dissolving many chemicals. The water as it collects many of these materials becomes contaminated. The water is called leachate. Although the chemistry of leachates is beyond this report it can include metals, nitrates, ammonia, oil, phosphates and acids, all of which can have an negative impact on water quality, plant and animal health.
197. Sites now are lined so that the liquid is collected and treated before it leaves the site. The problem is that however good the lining, it can be damaged by heavy earth-moving equipment during operations or by subsequent activity. The mix of waste in a landfill will exist for hundreds of years and who can guarantee that the barrier will last that long? If the barriers fail and leachate leaks out, expensive and difficult action is needed to collect it and perhaps excavate the whole site.
198. The decomposition in landfill produces several gases that can cause problems including methane, hydrogen sulphide and volatile organic compounds. Methane is highly explosive and is a powerful contributor to climate change. Hydrogen sulphide is toxic, and volatile organic compounds can be harmful to health. On well-designed sites there are systems to collect the methane gas and in some cases then use it as a fuel. However, the production of methane gas is irregular and can continue at low levels for many years after the site has been sealed.
199. A landfill site in operation can attract various pests including hundreds of gulls and other scavenging birds, rats, squirrels and foxes. There can also be problems with noise; materials going into the landfill can be blown onto surrounding land in a strong wind; traffic levels can be high; and diseases may be spread. Action can be taken to reduce these problems, such as at the end of each day's landfilling placing a thin layer of soil over the top, using pest control activities, etc.
200. There have been health concerns about the effects of living near to landfill sites, although there remains some debate on this matter (Baker, 2001)

Changing Policy

201. Government policy and public opinion have swung against landfill sites because of their associated problems. There is also growing concern about the waste of resources and energy involved in just putting potentially valuable materials in holes in the ground. In some parts of the country the number of available sites for landfill is limited as concerns about protecting ground water increase and old holes are filled. The North East region has adequate capacity, although Tyne and Wear's is limited (Environment Agency, 2000).
202. The government has introduced much stricter regulation on the operation of landfill sites (Baker, 2001); targets on reducing waste going to landfill; and the Landfill Tax. This tax is presently set at �12 for every tonne of municipal waste. It will rise to �15 by 2004 and many expect it will soon be around �25 per tonne (Jose, 2001). On top of the operational costs and any other charges for use of landfill, these changes have made landfill less of a cheap money option. The money calculation of course ignores other costs in terms of environmental impacts, loss of resources, etc. All of the changes are likely to reduce the role of landfill in a waste strategy. The days of landfill as a general, take-all-waste, strategy are numbered.
203. We would expect that any proposed new sites for landfill are carefully assessed to the see how suitable they are, how long the site will last and the implications for transport to these sites. The impact on communities and their views are also crucial issues.
204. The biggest drawbacks to landfill are the mixed nature and lack of pre-treatment of the waste that is put into them and the loss of many valuable resources. Several witnesses however did point out that in some specific and clearly defined circumstances landfill could have a limited but useful role as part of a waste strategy. There are some materials that, although a small portion of the total waste stream, are difficult to compost, re-use and recycle (Baker, 2001; Boden, 2001; Collins, 2001 & Murray, 2001). Dumpleton (2001), of SITA, stated that the household waste stream could be divided into three treatment streams:
  • Compost 36%
  • Recycling 49%
  • Landfill 15%
Until such time as technologies are developed to deal with these materials safely and economically or they are no longer produced, landfill may be the least-worst solution to the problem.

Potential Treatment of Household Waste (Dumpleton, 2001)
205. We were struck by the idea, an example from Milan, of the biological and mechanical treatment of waste before landfill to stabilise it and then placing it in well run landfill sites. The cost of such treatment was between �10 and �30 a tonne and was used in Germany, Austria and Halifax, Canada (Murray, 2001).
206. We would suggest that Newcastle Council considers landfill as an option for dealing with the residual waste stream after:
  • all the materials that can be reused, recycled and composted are removed
  • all potentially harmful materials such as paint and batteries are removed
  • the remainder is mechanically and biologically treated
This remaining portion of the waste to be placed in state-of-the-art landfill sites with full controls and monitoring.

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Handling Materials
Chapter 7: Energy from Waste

207. Energy from Waste covers a number of methods whereby the energy in different materials is captured for use. By far the most common is incineration, that is burning of waste. There are also a number of technologies being developed, including pyrolysis, gasification and anaerobic digestion.

Incineration

Background

208. Just as it is claimed that landfill is the logical descendent of the village rubbish tips, so it is claimed that incineration is a logical descendent of burning rubbish in the kitchen to produce heat (Prescott, 2001). However, the changes in the amount and character of the waste are so great that the comparison is very limited. As well, anyone who can remember burning rubbish on the stove or open fire will remember the smell and the small amount of heat.
209. The history of burning rubbish goes back to household fires. At the turn of the last century 'destructers', where local rubbish was burnt, were commonplace in cities. These were closed down due to concerns about pollution, especially smoke and particles, which along with coal burning and industry contributed to urban smogs. In the 1960s and 70s there was a new phase of modern, clean and hi-tech incinerators developed in Britain. By the 1990s almost all of these were closed down due to operating problems, levels of pollution released into the air and widespread health concerns. In the last few years there has been a revival in the incinerator industry in Britain.
210. In some parts of continental Europe incinerators are more common. This is largely because incinerators have been used as an alternative to landfill (Murray, 2001). Internationally, in recent years there has not been an expansion of incineration, with no new ones built in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as concerns about the health and environmental effects have grown, along with a desire to make good use of the materials rather than incinerate them (Collins, 2001).
211. Proposals to expand incineration in Britain are driven by the decisions to move away from landfill as a means of waste disposal and the idea of using incinerators not simply to get rid of waste, as most of the older generations did, but to capture the energy either by generating electricity or providing heat (Thistlewood, 2001). Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems produce both electricity and hot water and heating for buildings, whether residential, industrial or commercial. In some countries such schemes are often part of electricity generating plants fuelled by coal, oil or gas. An incinerator can also be used to run a Combined Heat and Power system. This treatment of waste in Energy from Waste plants was supported by government subsidies under the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation. The DETR recognised "that the level of support for incineration is greater than the level of support for recycling" (House of Commons Environment Committee, 2001).
212. Government's figures can be used to indicate that between 94 and 121 new incinerators will be built in the next ten to fifteen years (Murray, 2001). However, the Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, has repeatedly expressed doubts about whether this number will be needed or ever built. He has imposed very strong tests involving local consultation before any proposed Energy from Waste plant could be taken forward. We would not expect anyone to claim that this Select Committee inquiry was such a consultation.
213. If Newcastle Council decided to ignore our recommendations, and propose a new incinerator, we believe a new and genuine inquiry and consultation would have to take place.
214. There is no doubt that the proposals to build a significant number of new incinerators across Britain has created a great deal of controversy with strong opposition in almost every community where an incinerator has been proposed.

Technology

215. Incinerators take waste and burn it in a sealed container. Bottom ash is collected at the bottom and the hot gases are filtered before being released into the atmosphere. The content of the filters is described as Fly Ash and is a hazardous waste. The most common type of incinerator in Britain takes mixed waste, with little or no sorting, and burns it in a moving grate process. The resulting ash, which weighs 25% to 30% of the incoming waste, still has to be disposed of, usually to landfill. There is a great deal of debate about whether it can or should be treated other than by disposal and there is likely to be further guidance from the British government and European Union. The rest of the materials are released into the atmosphere as gases, airfill. In an Energy from Waste plant the heat that is generated from burning is used to generate electricity and sometimes to provide heating for buildings.
216. In theory, bottom ash can be used as building material and for road foundations. However, the recent experiences of mixing fly ash with bottom ash means that if people know about it, as they have a right to, there is likely to be public resistance. There are remaining concerns about even these uses of ash.
217. Incinerators vary in size from large ones such as the one at Cleveland which handles 250,000 tonnes of waste a year or Tyseley in Birmingham which handles 350,000 tonnes. The proposed plant at Byker would be smaller handling around 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes of waste plus a possible 15,000 tonnes of shredded rubber.
218. The steel that has passed through an incinerator can be gathered from the ash for recycling. However, the heat of the incinerator means that the tin on cans cannot be separated from the steel so that the metal is of lower value than if it has been recycled without burning (Waste Strategy, 2000).
219. As the waste going into an incinerator is largely unsorted, it contains a wide mix of substances with its overall composition constantly varying. This means that the fuel is not constant in terms of its contained energy, the amount of water mixed in and what possible pollutants are in it. All of this means that there are all sorts of complications in ensuring a constant and controlled temperature of burning. Controlling of the burning process is vital to ensure that all the materials are fully burnt, since incinerators have sometimes left unburned waste mixed in with the ash, and even more importantly to control the levels of harmful pollutants that go up the chimney.
220. The mixed waste going into an incinerator contains materials that will produce dioxins, acids, harmful gases and reactive forms of heavy metals. The incinerator will not destroy these chemicals. Some can be reduced by careful control of the burning process. A modern incinerator relies on a complex set of filters which should remove the harmful gases and particles, before releasing the cleaned air to the atmosphere. This requires a "huge investment to ensure what comes out the chimneys is safe" (Taylor, 2001). The filters and captured particles, called fly ash, have to be disposed of in special landfill sites as the process of burning and filtering acts to concentrate these dangerous chemicals.
221. Incinerators, including their filter systems, are expensive capital intensive plants, costing between �60 million and �100 million (Murray, 2001). They employ relatively few staff once they are constructed. To be financially viable they require a reliable and constant supply of waste and to operate over a long period, around 20 years.
222. In spite of changes in technology and regulation, the new incinerators have suffered from worries about health and safety. These concerns have been expressed about mixing bottom ash and fly ash at Byker and Edmonton, the fire in the Dundee plant and the release of harmful gases above legal limits at Sheffield. There are public worries about the dioxins released from incinerators (Halliday, 2001). The health and environmental impacts of incinerators, along with other waste strategies, will be one of the key issues to be considered in the Health and Environmental Impact Assessments that will carried out following this report. These findings will be reviewed in the next stage of the Select Committee and will be part of the Final Report. All of this will inform the public debate which will take place before Newcastle decides its long-term waste strategy.

The Role of Incinerators

223. The witnesses who favoured incineration (Thistlewood, 2001; Prescott, 2001), the Waste Strategy 2000 and the incineration industry do not argue that a waste strategy should consist solely of incineration. Instead they state that incinerators are part of an integrated strategy (Rowland, 2001). Yet Dumpleton (2001) of SITA, presented a three-way treatment for waste based on composting, 36%, recycling, 49%, and landfill, 15% that leaves no room for incineration.
224. The basis of the justification for incinerators, with their large capital costs and long term contracts, is that recycling is unlikely to ever reach much more than 30% to 40% of the total waste, with compost taking another slice, leaving a large residue still to be treated (Murray, 2001b). If this is the likely case then, the argument continues, it is better to capture the energy contained in the waste rather than sending it to landfill.
225. As household waste is not a good fuel, because it is mixed in content and has a high level of moisture and materials that are difficult to burn, the energy produced is a by-product (Prescott, 2001). The primary aim of incineration is to reduce the amount of waste that has to be disposed (Prescott, 2001). However if recycling develops this will effect the composition of the waste available for incineration. The two most important materials for an incinerator, in terms of volume and high calorific value (good to burn), are paper and plastic. A large portion of paper waste is readily recycled and there is a market, which is likely to grow, for recycled paper. Plastics pose some of the biggest problems in terms of heavy metals, dioxin formation and other pollutants from incinerators. Plastics also are recyclable and the market and technologies for recycling are growing. A third major portion of the waste stream that can be burnt, although less easily because of high water content, is organic matter, garden and food waste. These are mostly readily composted and there are good reasons to compost rather than incinerate them (Prescott, 2001).
226. Most witnesses agreed that incineration should come only after recycling and composting, which is in line with government's waste hierarchy policy.
Rowland (2001) of Newcastle Council stated that "Everything else should come before reverting to Combined Heat and Power".
Prescott (2001), although in favour of incineration, thought "that first what could be removed sensibly should be, and that green waste should be composted".
If most paper, plastic and compostable materials are removed there is not a lot left to burn, and it has a very low heat value, as glass and metals do not burn.
Taylor (2001), of SITA, recognise that if waste reduction and recycling were successful then "there might be a problem for incineration".
227. One way of increasing the calorific value (the ability to burn) of what goes into an incinerator if paper, plastics, etc are removed is to add shredded rubber tyres. Legislation means that in the next few years tyres will not be permitted in landfill and the industry is considering burning in incinerators as an alternative. This option is part of the proposal for Byker. We are unhappy with the idea of burning rubber in a residential area.
228. The underlying case for incineration is the assumption that reduction, recycling and compost will fail. There is a risk that if incinerators are built that this will be a self-fulfilling fear. If a large amount of finance is invested in an incinerator there will be less money, given tight local authority budgets, to support recycling and composting (Murray, 2001). Incineration can lock a council into supplying a certain level of waste to fulfil the contract,
"Incinerators had to be constantly fed ... there is a deep conflict between incineration and recycling"(Collins, 2001).
This may, in years to come, produce a conflict with the aim, probably backed by legislation, to reduce waste as well as recycle, re-use and compost.
229. Another argument in favour of incineration is that it appears to give certainty. The council has a single contract; finance and management are simple. Usually the contracts are long-term, for example 20 years. So the accountants are happy as they can predict future budgets with confidence (Murray, 2001). However this certainty can be an illusion. The last 20 years have seen big changes in waste composition and regulation. Different components of waste will need different approaches to treatment. There are discussions in Europe and Britain about introducing a tax on incinerators similar to the present landfill tax (Stevens, 2001). One of the few certainties is that this change is likely to continue, if not increase, over the next 20 years.

Siting of Incinerators

230. The witnesses who believed there was a role for incineration all stated that they should not be located in residential areas.
Dumpleton (2001), of SITA, recognised that incinerators are an industrial process and "it was better to locate any industrial process away from people".
Halliday (2001), of Northumberland Council and the Chair of the North East Region Technical Advisory Board on Waste, said that councils should avoid putting Energy from Waste plants in populated areas and didn't "blame people for not wanting one nearby due to concerns about health, environment and noise".
Prescott (2001) stated that incinerators should be "sited in industrial park, not in the middle of the city". He stated that he would "not want an incinerator in my backyard".
231. Bishop Ambrose Griffiths (2001) stated "that if you actually decided to have an incinerator, it should be away from population altogether ... it should not be sited in a poor area ... they often have less voice."

Comments

232. The idea of burning mixed waste to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill while providing electricity and hot water seems attractive. Unfortunately turning the idea into a safe practicality has proved difficult. The problems are both practical and theoretical.
233. Incineration tends to compete with resource minimisation, recycling and composting. Materials like paper and plastic which can be most easily recycled are the best for incineration. So, as recycling succeeds over the next few years, the materials that make incinerators attractive, will decline. It is claimed that these plants can operate with ever-lower calorific values in the waste, but this means they will need increasing volumes of lower heat-value waste to produce the same amount of hot water and electricity.
234. A practical problem is that for Combined Heat and Power plants to be efficient they need to be close to a high demand for hot water. If located in a residential area or city centre, there is then a problem with traffic to the plant and pollution. It is stated that new incinerators can operate with low levels of releases of pollution to the air, bottom ash which has little toxic content and the fly ash which concentrates the toxic materials. Given the record of the incinerator industry over the last 40 years, where promises that environmental standards would be met, have not been met, these claims of safety are viewed with suspicion by the public.

Conclusion

235. Incinerators are expensive to build, provide relatively few jobs and need a long-term operating contract with a reliable waste supply to be financially viable. There are risks that the investment in incineration, which is near the bottom of the waste hierarchy, would limit the commitment to the higher levels of the hierarchy including waste reduction, re-use, recycling and composting. Given the long-term nature of the commitment to an incinerator, to be viable it assumes that Newcastle will fail to meet the Government targets, let alone the standards we, and hopefully the people of Newcastle, aspire to. There are real concerns about the Health and Environment impacts of incineration. Communities are opposed to having an incinerator nearby.
236. The priorities for the use of money, resources and people's energy should be towards solutions for waste near the top of waste hierarchy, reduce, reuse, compost and recycle.
237. We urge Newcastle Council to give full consideration to a waste strategy without incineration.

Byker Heating

District Heating Scheme

238. The heating of the Byker estate has been linked with Newcastle's waste strategy for the last 20 years, as the fuel for the district heating scheme has mainly been based on a portion of the City's waste (Mills, 2001; Rowland, 2001). When the system was established it was considered forward-looking and innovative in using waste to produce heat. However the operation of the plant has not lived up to expectations.
239. The aim of the Byker system, like most District heating schemes run by Combined Heat and Power, was to produce affordable heat to the residents and businesses of Byker. The success of Combined Heat and Power is that it uses what is normally wasted heat from electricity generation, often in cooling towers. Instead of discarding the heat to the air it is used to heat buildings and water. A District scheme has a common central heating boiler which feeds into a distribution network. The benefits of such a system are the use of otherwise wasted heat so that energy efficiency is increased and the provided heat is cheap. A major downside of such a system, compared to individual household heating, is the costs of staff in the plant and to maintain the distribution system. It can only work if the savings on producing heat more than outweigh the additional costs of distribution (Underwood, 2001).
240. A portion of Newcastle's waste was treated to produce Refuse Derived Fuel which was delivered free of charge to the Byker Heat Plant, the incinerator, run by Contract Heat and Power. Initially the system only produced heat to Byker, but later it was modified to also generate electricity. In the Heat Plant the Refuse Derived Fuel was burnt and the operator sold the heat to the Council and electricity to the national grid to cover the costs of the operation. The heat is distributed around the estate in a primary main with medium pressure hot water. At 9 sub-stations the heat from the primary main is passed into local secondary mains that deliver heat to houses. Inside each house there is a heat exchanger to transfer the heat from the secondary main to provide space heating and domestic hot water.
241. This system of burning Refuse Derived Fuel operated from 1979 to 1998. The end of the existing contract meant that the plant no longer burnt waste. Recently the heating for Byker has been by burning coal in the plant.

Problems of Byker's Heating

242. The system has been "inconsistent in delivery" with the main pipe system leaking and eventually needing to be replaced at a cost of millions (Mills, 2001). The incinerator plant has also suffered difficulties with its old boilers being unreliable and so needing to be replaced, strong odours from the sorting of waste and the drying of the fuel and occasions of 'black snow' (large quantities of soot and ash) falling on the nearby houses from the chimney. The current boilers, burning coal are operating satisfactorily.
243. In addition to the problems of the distribution system, Byker also suffers from poor heat control and insulation within the houses. Houses have a single thermostat, that often does not work, rather than time controls. The houses are very wasteful of heat, as insulation in many of the buildings is poor. The windows are not double-glazed and are draughty. The average annual energy consumption for heating water and space per household in Byker is around 30,000 kilowatt hours (Buckham, 2000), while British Gas estimates that the energy consumption (including cooking as well as heating) for its domestic consumers is around 20,000 kilowatt hours.
244. The main costs of the Byker District Heating Scheme are outlined in the following table. The three biggest costs to the residents are maintenance of the pipework and heat delivery system; purchase of the heat from the plant operator, Contract Heat and Power; and maintenance inside of houses to thermostats, valves, exchangers, radiators, etc. The costing of the Byker system suffers because the heat is not particularly cheap, there are significant maintenance costs as well as some old historic capital costs of installing the system, which are still being paid off.
Repairs and Maintenance of the Valves, Mains, sub-stations, etc�281,160
Repairs within the Houses: Radiators, Thermostats, Pipes�227,000
Purchase of Heat from Incinerator Operator, Contract Heat & Power�332,920
Historic Capital Costs�158,950
Other (Wages, Rates, Office bills, Oil & Coal, etc)�469,730
TOTAL�1,469,760

Main Costs of the Byker District Heating Scheme: Budget January 2002 (Newcastle Council, 2001a)

245. Residents of Byker have to pay the heating charges as part of their rent (and it is not covered by benefits to the elderly, unemployed, disabled, etc); they are "fuel hostages" (Underwood, 2001). The level of these charges is recognised as a real problem, as the estate has "a combined rent and heat charges which is prohibitive to anyone on low to average income. People under 25 who become unemployed cannot afford to live on the estate" (Newcastle Council, 2001b).
246. An example of the expensive nature of the Byker system is shown by a comparison with a group of houses on the estate around Janet Street, which are of similar construction but are not heated from the main boiler. Instead they are in a small group heating system that is fuelled by gas. This area was converted to this system, with the investment funded by a Government grant. Even though residents of Janet Street, also in Byker, pay lower charges this covers 96% of the costs (Newcastle Council 2001c), while the charges paid in the rest of Byker only cover 60% of the costs (Newcastle Council, 2001a).
Byker Estate - District Heating Janet Street - Group Heating
1 bedroom�7.95�5.09
2 bedroom�9.94�7.60
3 bedroom�11.11�8.37

Comparative Weekly Heating Charge between Byker District Scheme and Janet Square Group Heating

247. Other Combined Heat and Power District Heating schemes, including Stanhope Street, Newcastle, Hutchesontown, Glasgow and Stechford, Birmingham, have weekly charges in the order of �3 - �6 a week (CHPA, 2001).
248. The high costs of operating the plant, �332,920, and maintenance of the system, �281,160, are apparent in the accounts. Also residents are paying the historic capital costs, �158,950, of what was an experimental heating scheme. This paying of the capital costs is not recommended good practice by the Association Metropolitan Authorities (Mills, 2001).
249. We would recommend that the residents of Byker no longer pay the historic capital costs of the Byker heating system. The Government should be approached to meet the capital costs of what was an experimental scheme.

Looking Ahead

250. The Council has recognised the problems of the cost of the Byker scheme. There is a wide-ranging public debate about whether there will be a new incinerator in Byker. The present boilers in the Byker plant are "in investment terms, nearing the end of their life, but subject to proper maintenance could carry on for some time". (Mills, 2001)
251. Given the high levels of poverty, families with young children, long-term sick and people with disabilities living in Byker the issue of fuel poverty due to the high charges is clearly an issue. The city authority has a responsibly to ensure that appropriate investment takes place to ensure high fuel efficiency for these households.

Comments

252. There are separate issues to do with the costs of the heating system, the thermal efficiency of houses and the way that heat is supplied to the houses.
253. The Council has considered installing heat meters in the houses. Such a proposal would have to be acceptable to the residents of Byker. A pre-condition is that the thermal efficiency of Byker houses must be at least up to the national standards with windows double glazed and draft-proofed, reliable thermostats that include time settings, and improved insulation where possible.
254. The decisions on heating the Byker estate should be based on what is best for the estate's residents, so that Byker is not dependent on a possible new incinerator. Waste, as previously pointed out, is not the best of fuels: it is burnt mainly to reduce its weight. It may be expensive to scrap the entire existing heating system and replace it with high-efficiency boilers in individual households.
255. The benefits of district heating are best utilised with inexpensive heat based on the heat largely being a bonus on top of electricity generation, as is common in a good Combined Heat and Power system. In addition the long distribution lines of the Byker system add to the costs of the scheme. If instead there were short heat supply lines such as in Janet Street etc, provided by small group heating schemes this would offer significant savings. This could be done by using the existing sub-stations and secondary mains while closing down the central boilers and primary mains.
256. We would propose for consideration for the heating of Byker the establishment of small Combined Heat and Power plants with embedded electricity generation with the heat feeding into localised Group Heating. This would include:
  • A Combined Heat and Power system, with the sale of electricity to local users (Embedded generation), covering the majority of costs so that the heating can be economic.
  • Small scale generation and local heat distribution (group heating) to avoid some of the maintenance costs of the present large scale heat network
  • Boilers and Combined Heat and Power that can run on more than one fuel, perhaps with a future option of biogas from anaerobic digestion.
257. Clearly there is a need for a thorough and public investigation into the problems of heating Byker with the aim of producing a better system, with full regard to financial and social benefits for the residents and efficient use of heat. The residents of Byker should be fully involved in such a review and should have the right to decide on what is the most appropriate system.

Pyrolysis and Gasification

258. Pyrolysis and gasification are processes still in the experimental stage for the treatment of municipal waste. Simply, pyrolysis is the heating of waste (or other materials such as wood or farming waste) in a sealed container, without oxygen, so that the waste breaks down to produce oil, gas, a charcoal like substance and a residue. Gasification also is the breakdown of waste by heating it in a controlled system but with the addition of oxygen. It mainly produces oil, although there is a residue.
259. Both these technologies have some promising benefits compared to incineration. However like incineration and landfill, if mixed waste is fed into the process there are problems of heavy metal contamination. It also relies on the input of waste that is high in carbon (high calorific value) which conflicts with the aim of recycling materials such as paper and plastic or composting organic matter (Grierson, 2001; Prescott, 2001).
260. This new technology might solve some of the problems of incineration, but it is subject to the same objection - that it needs a high calorific value of waste to work well. It is also an untried technology that will need further investigation to ensure it is reliable, practical and environmentally safe.

Conclusion

261. We do not see Pyrolysis or Gasification having a role in Newcastle's Waste Strategy.

Anaerobic Digestion

262. Anaerobic Digestion, like composting, uses natural processes which commonly take place in the soil, breaking down organic matter mainly to methane gas and humus. It is a process that takes place without the presence of oxygen (an = without, aerobic = air). The main aim as a treatment for waste is, unlike composting, to produce methane gas, although the remainder can be used as compost. It is commonly used in China to break down pig waste to produce methane and compost. The quality of the compost depends on the materials used.
263. Methane gas is the main natural gas distributed through the gas pipelines of Britain. The production of methane gas in landfill sites can cause problems as it may cause explosions and it also contributes to climate change. In anaerobic digestion however, the production of methane is the main aim as it can be used as a fuel. Although anaerobic digestion has similarities to composting, because its purpose is production of a fuel, it is classed as an Energy from Waste technology. Provided it receives a good organic source of materials free from contamination it can produce good compost and produces little or no toxins in the process or end products.
264. Anaerobic digestion takes place in sealed containers so there is little risk of odour, attracting pests and the escape of pathogens. Naturally occurring bacteria 'eat' the waste and in the process generate methane and heat. The heat kills off pathogens, viruses and parasites. It breaks down garden waste, food waste, paper card and organic textiles (such as cotton and wool). If this is all that is fed into the system the residue, after the extraction of methane, is a safe, good quality compost (Whaley, 2001b).
"Separate collection was preferred." (Whaley, 2001)
If mixed waste, including broken glass, plastics, batteries, etc, is fed into the processes, the residue is contaminated by these materials.
265. Anaerobic digestion could either be used to treat good quality garden and household organic waste or as part of the treatment of the mixed waste residue. One of the advantages of anaerobic digestion is that it may well be able to overcome the risks of the spread of foot and mouth disease that is causing problems for some methods of composting. If used to treat clean organic waste there is less compost produced than in the usual compost methods (see Chapter 9) but the resulting compost is still high in nitrogen and other nutrients necessary for plants (Whaley, 2001).
266. If used to treat mixed residue waste the benefit is that methane gas, which otherwise would cause problems in landfill, is captured to be used as a fuel. Unlike incineration, in which the waste is directly burnt with the need for expensive technology and filters, anaerobic digestion produces methane, a clean burning fuel. A possible use for the methane produced from anaerobic digestion would be to fuel a new heating system for the Byker estate.
267. The running costs of the Portagester system, which produces methane, are at present below those of landfill at around �30 per tonne. Its by-product, if only compostable waste is used, is good for agricultural use. Pumfrey (2001) pointed out that 72% of farmland in Europe has lost 80% of its organic content and the product of this system could improve the soil.
268. We see great potential for anaerobic digestion, since it can be designed to treat either separated organic materials or mixed waste. We hope SITA and Newcastle Council will co-operate with a local North East company to use small anaerobic digesters to treat some local waste, to demonstrate the value of this system. We do however note that if contaminants such as heavy metals are present in the waste to be treated there are severe limits to any use for the solid material produced.
269. Anaerobic digestion should be seen as complementary to composting and part of an overall waste strategy. We hope that Newcastle Council will quickly evaluate the different designs for anaerobic digestion and consider its role in the handling of the city's waste.

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Handling Waste
Chapter 8: Sewage

270. Although sewage is not a responsibility of local authorities and is not part of the targets in Government's Waste Strategy 2000, it is an important means of waste disposal and should at least be given a brief consideration.
271. An important portion of household waste is disposed of down the drains. This includes the normal waste flushed down the toilet and household dirt from washing clothes and dishes. But many problem materials are also disposed of in this way including nappies flushed, paint and other harmful liquids poured into drains and in some houses large quantities of food scraps liquidised in a waste disposal unit fitted to the kitchen sink.
272. Disposal of the 35 million tonnes of raw sewage sludge sewage poses challenges to society. At present there are a number of treatments including removing some of the water, digesting and composting. After this it is spread on land, incinerated or landfilled.
273. As with other waste streams, what goes in largely effects what comes out. So if paints, heavy metals, toxic and corrosive chemicals are added, these can all pose problems for the end disposal.
274. There is also an issue if disposal to the sewage system becomes a much more common way of dealing with waste, such as through waste disposal units fitted to sinks, in that it will increase the demand for water, which in some parts of Britain is already in limited supply.
275. Any waste strategy needs to give consideration to impacts beyond the existing system. There is a risk that problems can be displaced from one area to another. If there is increased legislation and restrictions on the way people handle waste, without an increase in public understanding and support systems, than people may seek ways to avoid the restrictions, such as disposal to the sewers or fly-tipping. On the other hand, if the leading edge of a new waste strategy is an increase in the public's awareness on issues of waste and recycling and there are well run systems to collect various waste materials, including hazardous materials, this is likely to reduce the inappropriate disposal of materials down the drain.

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Handling Materials
Chapter 9: Compost

Potential for Compost

276. A large portion of municipal waste, between 33% and 55% (Dumpleton, 2001; Pumfrey, 2001) could be turned into compost. This includes household organic waste, food scraps, peelings and remains, garden waste and much of the paper and card that is not suitable for recycling because it is not clean.
277. There are strong reasons for producing compost. Agricultural land across Britain and Europe is suffering a loss of organic matter and a decline in fertility and quality. Chemical fertilisers are used to replace the nutrients and maintain fertility, however this does little to maintain soil quality.
"Farming is a mineral extractive industry with an increased reliance on synthesised fertilisers" (Pumfrey, 2001).
Nitrogen is a plant nutrient important for growth which is readily available in compost. An Energy from Waste incinerator which burns organic matter destroys nitrogen in a form that is readily available to plants. To replace this nitrogen requires seven times as much electricity as is produced in its burning (Whaley, 2001).
278. The production of compost can significantly reduce the volume of matter going to waste. Good clean compost can replenish the health of soils and can be commercially sold.

Making Compost

279. Composting is simply allowing organic matter to break down and rot into humus. Bacteria play an important role in the process of composting, feeding on carbon and nitrogen in the organic matter and oxygen from the air. The process generates heat which kills weed seeds, pathogens and harmful bacteria. The products are carbon dioxide and water, as well as the humus. Once the bacteria have used up the available food they die off and the temperature drops. After this is complete, it is best to leave the compost to 'cure' for a time so that it stabilises.
280. Composting can be done either in a simple static pile, in a windrow or in-vessel. In a static pile the matter is just left to rot. There are problems with the thoroughness of the decomposition, as oxygen may not reach all the materials, risking some un-rotted material and possible survival of germs. In a windrow, the material is turned regularly to ensure a more uniform decomposition. Windrows and static piles are satisfactory for dealing with green waste, animal manure, and woody waste. As both static pile and windrow composting have risks of smells, incomplete decomposition, attracting vermin and allowing the escape and survival of pathogens, they are less suitable for municipal waste streams.
281. In-vessel composting ensures a much more uniform decomposition, contains any smells, prevents the attraction of vermin and successfully kills pathogens as all the matter reaches a high enough temperature. This approach is more suitable for dealing with a range of compostable materials including household food waste, paper, card, etc (Pumfrey, 2001).
282. Just as with incineration and landfill, if the waste going to be composted is mixed the product coming out will be mixed. So if plastics, broken glass, batteries and metals are mixed in with the organic matter they will contaminate the resulting compost. A supply of only organic compostable waste is a pre-condition for producing high quality compost (Coggins, 2001; Whaley, 2001).
"A quality product could never be achieved from mixed waste." (Pumfrey, 2001)
"Segregation is the key." (Pruce, 2001)
283. Composting of municipal waste is carried out in people's homes, in small community schemes and in larger 'industrial' compost sites. One of the greatest benefits of composting waste is that it can be done fairly close to where it is produced so ensuring the government's proximity principle, of taking action near the place of production, is observed.

Problems with Compost

284. There is a lack of clear standards and definitions as to what is compost. This hampers the development of a market for high quality compost. It has also created confusion about what treatment processes are acceptable and in what circumstances.
285. In the contract that Newcastle Council has agreed with SITA it is proposed to treat 40,000 tones of mixed waste a year to produce what is called 'grey compost'. As this will be produced from mixed waste it will risk being contaminated with small particles of glass, plastic and metals and heavy metals. It is proposed that this material will not be commercial compost but rather it will be used as a cover for landfill sites. It was described as "dirty" compost by one witness (Tinling, 2001). A previous experiment by Newcastle Council, at Big Waters, to produce compost from mixed waste, although it had produced a rotted matter, had "high levels of metal contamination" (Henry, 2001).
286. Open composting, in static piles or windrows, can risk the spread of smells, dust and wind blown litter. There is the possibility of the spread of various airborne diseases (Crouch, 2001, Coggins, 2001). For these reasons the Environment Agency states that composting facilities should not be within 250 metres of homes or workplace (Crouch, 2001). It is interesting to note such a restriction does not apply to an incinerator. There is also a risk that water would collect chemicals while it passes through the compost, and, like landfill leachate, would carry pollution into surface and ground water. Some of these problems can be overcome by having windrows inside sheds on a concrete base with separate drains.
287. The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease has raised concerns that animal products, if mixed in with compost, could spread the disease back to animals. The Environment Agency's guidance is that animal wastes should not be mixed in with compostable material.
288. There is within the Environment Agency confusion about whether in some circumstance compost is still classed as a waste (Crouch, 2001). The Environment Agency seems to be slow to clarify a number of issues to do with compost .
"The reticence of the Environment Agency to guide the industry with pertinent regulations has stymied the development of the industry in Britain." (Pumfrey, 2001)
In our hearings we too found the Environment Agency less than clear on this matter. Probably more disappointing, we did not sense that the Agency saw the urgent need to clarify the confusions around compost so that it could play a full role in the waste strategy.
289. There is a lack of clear guidance from the Environment Agency and others as to standards of compost. This hampers its successful marketing. To realise the potential that composting has, both to deal with waste and as potentially useful and valuable material, there needs to be clarity on standards and a national marketing campaign (Pumfrey, 2001; Wise, 2001).

Opportunities

290. Already some 6,000 households in Newcastle carry out home composting (Tinling, 2001a). We believe the support should be continued and extended. A useful support, on top of the existing phone 'Compost Helpline', would be a composting club with a regular newsletter and other events as is done in Leicester (Morrish, 2001)
291. A pilot scheme in Chapel Park where 1200 households were asked to put out kitchen and garden compostable materials was a success with most people being involved. Some 4 tonnes of materials was collected on average every week and there was minimal contamination (Tinling, 2001b).
292. The North East Co-op has taken significant steps to reduce the amount of waste it produces. However food waste remains a significant problem. In the region, the Co-op sends nearly �4million worth of food a year to landfill at a cost to the Co-op of between �26 and �30 a tonne. If there was a scheme to compost it they would be keen to take part, and would be willing to consider paying someone to deal with it. As well as the production of a potentially valued resource, this would save the Co-op money and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The Co-op could easily separate out the meat products from fruit, vegetables and bread, which would avoid any problems with possible foot and mouth contamination (Martin, 2001).

Conclusions

293. We believe that compost has a major role to play in any waste strategy. It can significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Compost can be a valued resource that could help restore soil quality and reduce the need for synthetic fertilisers and peat. However like incineration, anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis, the quality of the material produced, and the problem of pollution, depends very much on the quality of the material which goes in.
294. To ensure the full development of the potential for compost we believe the Environment Agency must clarify the present guidance with the aim of, while ensuring safety, encouraging the immediate and wide-spread development of composting.
295. The Government, Environment Agency, and the Compost Association should agree on standards for compost and launch a marketing drive for good quality compost.
296. For Newcastle's strategy we have grave reservations about the proposal to produce 'grey compost'. This will be a low value material with limited use, which may well face restrictions in production and use in the next few years. Its production will take resources that instead could be used to produce a much higher value compost. Depending on the definitions for compost, which are awaited from the Environment Agency, it is possible that 'grey compost' may not be classed as compost at all in the near future, so investment in the technology to produce it would be wasted.
297. The priority in Newcastle should be to separate as much compostable material as possible, both food and garden materials. The Council needs to assess how a safe, pollution-free kerbside collection system can be put in place for domestic waste. It also needs to encourage increased composting of green waste and measure how much is composted (The Government needs to give local authorities credit for this in the statistics). The Council also needs to ensure there are good Civic Amenity sites available to all communities to deal with green waste.
298. We commend the present home composting scheme in Newcastle. It should be supported and effort made to extend it (The Government should include home and community composting in the composting targets).
299. There are opportunities to greatly extend composting of Newcastle's waste, both community and larger schemes.
300. There are opportunities to cooperate with industry, as the example of the Co-op's keenness to compost its food waste illustrates, which the Council should explore.
301. There should be a thorough investigation into the potential for sealed composting, which overcomes many of the problems of odour, pests and pathogens, to deal with a significant portion of Newcastle's waste.

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Handling Materials
Chapter 10: Recycle and Re-use

Introduction

302. The report has already demonstrated that a wide range of materials that are presently disposed to landfill or incineration can be usefully re-used and recycled. We have also already explained the reasons why the savings of materials and energy offered by recycling and re-use have benefits for society both now and into the future. There are strong economic, moral and environmental reasons why society should end its throwaway approach and make full use of existing resources by recycling and re-using.
303. The key to successful re-use and recycling is to ensure that clean materials are available; as the Government's Waste Strategy 2000 urges there is a need for "greater provision of single material waste streams". Many witnesses who commented on this stated the need for separation of materials so that these were of high quality and without contamination (Pruce, 2001; Whaley, 2001; Pumfrey, 2001; Jose, 2001). The key is to end the present policy of treating all waste the same, by throwing it into one bin and having a common treatment system. No one would suggest that the best food preparation is to mix all the ingredients together: a three-course dinner would be almost impossible to eat if it was all mixed in one big bowl.
304. This chapter mainly considers the opportunities and impacts of recycling while the Chapter 11 looks at ways of gathering materials. Re-use has been discussed in Chapter 5 along with recommendations for increasing its role in dealing with waste.

Using Materials

305. The report has already outlined a few ways different materials can be re-used and recycled. Obviously the most straight forward is to recycle back into the same sort of objects. Glass bottles are recycled to make more glass bottles. Used newspapers are recycled to make new newsprint. Aluminium and steel cans are recycled to make new aluminium and steel objects. The reports has also outlined a number of re-use schemes including those for white goods, computers, household furniture, and paint, that play an important role in reducing waste as well as providing other economic and social benefits. Composting has been treated separately in Chapter 9.
306. A concern of witnesses (Wrigley, 2001; Jose, 2001), and recognised in the Government's strategy, is the need to encourage and support more ways to use recycled materials. At present much of industry and many consumers prefer products made from virgin materials. We would urge the Government to increase the research and support for developing new ways of using recycled materials.

Markets: "an economic opportunity"

307. Probably the most fundamental change to ensure there are many uses for recycled materials is to move from seeing waste as something to get rid of, to seeing it as "an economic opportunity" (Wrigley, 2001).
308. The drive for a "dramatic increase in recycling is only just being felt ... it will increase in the future" (Dumpleton, 2001). The basis of this drive to increase recycling is the change in public attitudes and legislation from the UK Government and the EU. Both legislation and public attitudes in support of recycling are likely to increase even more in the future. This will have a dramatic impact in stimulating new opportunities.
309. Once this shift takes place then business will find a multitude of ways to seize that opportunity. We are on the edge of such a change. If the North East and Newcastle want to grasp an opportunity ahead of the rest of the country, this is an area that should be given full attention. It is at the pioneering stage of development that support is needed.
310. The existing uses for recycled materials are welcome and to be encouraged. Steps should be considered to increase the portion of the market for goods made from recycled glass and paper for example. However there is still an absence of ready markets (Jose, 2001) for some materials and in others, the prices were weak or tended to fluctuate (Moore, 2001).
311. Unfortunately a large portion of the materials collected for recycling are "exported; very little was used in the region" (Jose, 2001). One example is that collected plastic is sent to Holland for processing before it is shipped back to Gateshead for further use (Jose, 2001). Locating production facilities in more regions of the country, including the North East, would reduce transport costs and environmental impacts thus helping to achieve the Proximity Principle. Such plants would also provide jobs.
312. The Government has established WRAP, Waste Resources Action Programme, to research and support uses for recycled materials. This is a welcome step; however it has very modest funding of �40 million over 3 years, has limited powers of implementation and is still at an early stage.
313. The aim of supporting and encouraging the use of recycled materials in existing industries and finding new uses needs to become central to the economic strategies of both central Government and the regional development agency, ONE North East.
314. In some parts of the private sector there are keen and innovative companies at work to develop new products and markets. These are applauded and should receive support from ONE North East and Newcastle Council. This needs to be greatly extended and there is a need "to close the loop through research, longer term planning and the development of mutually supporting partnerships" (Jose, 2001).
315. An area for further research and development is into innovative and higher value uses for recycled materials. The approach should be to turn what are seen as problems into opportunities. There is an over-supply of green glass in Britain (England, 2001). The North East has a long tradition of glass making. What steps could be taken to develop local businesses making products from green glass?
  • At present it is possible to buy green wine glasses and decanters made from recycled glass, but they are imported from Spain.
  • There has been research in the region into making floor tiles out of green glass.
There are many more possible ideas for each recycled materials. What is needed is the change of view that Wrigley urged.
316. Newcastle Council, ONE North East, the Government and public bodies such as Health Authorities, Universities and others have a crucial direct role in encouraging the use of recycled materials. They are all major purchasers of supplies. If they all introduced a policy of preferential purchasing of materials made from recycled goods, paper, glass, etc this would have a profound impact on the growth of this sector. It would have more effect than the �40 million funding that WRAP has to encourage this sector.
317. We would urge the Government to introduce guidelines ensuring that there are no barriers to local authorities buying recycled materials and instead, require the preferential purchase of products made from recycled materials as a condition of receiving public funds. Until this happens we would urge Newcastle City Council to adopt such a policy and to challenge other major organisations, both public and private, to adopt a similar policy.

Public Attitudes

318. There is a need to increase the public's awareness of the benefits of using goods made from recycled materials. Most of the public has a broad concern about waste and the general harm being done to the environment. This general feeling needs to be strengthened and turned towards positive action.
319. There are various ways this can be done. The Government has a number of information and publicity programmes aimed at the general public, e.g. "Are You Doing Your Bit?". While having some value, witnesses felt that the basis of success was public information and involvement in decisions and action.
"Engage householders as intelligent human beings capable of making moral choices ... progress in waste reduction would not happen unless the public were very well informed." (Moore, 2001)
"Better to work with people ... take people with you." (Collins, 2001)
The debate that has been provoked in Newcastle and other cities can have a major benefit of helping to increase the public's awareness about waste issues.
320. We urge Newcastle Council to build on the educational efforts made at present by putting resources into raising understanding in partnership with communities, as an immediate priority.
321. A key to changing understanding is to end the present practice of throwing everything into one bin. If people have to think about what they are discarding it will lead to thinking about the possilbe uses of the materials.
"Kerbside separation is the best opportunity for educating and motivating the public" (Moore, 2001)
For households to achieve a better handling of waste requires greater awareness. There has been a profound change in public attitudes towards smoking or drink driving brought about by a combination of growing public awareness and legislation. Other cities and countries have seen a similar shift in attitudes towards waste. By a combination of good practice, public information, and effective action Newcastle could enjoy the benefits of a significant change in attitudes so that what we now call waste is seen and treated as a resource.
322. An important issue is to ensure that objects made from recycled materials are of as a high, if not higher, quality standard than those from new materials. On top of this a campaign is needed to ensure that the public is fully aware that such objects are of high quality. There are examples of goods made from recycled materials which are taken for granted. No one asks what portion of the steel in their car, for example, is from recycled steel; a large portion certainly is. There are products from recycled materials that are of premium quality. A good example is the high performance outdoor clothing made by the US firm Patagonia. It makes fleece fabric from recycled plastic soft drinks bottles. The production of more goods like this should be supported and their success publicised.
323. Schools should have a potentially important role in raising public awareness (Morrish, 2001). Many children already have a high awareness and concern about environmental issues and this has links to many parts of the national curriculum including citizenship, geography and science. If education is linked to actions, which partly depends on the existence of good recycling systems, they can help motivate their parents as well as developing good attitudes themselves. Already a number of schools in Newcastle operate bring schemes for recyclable materials.
324. Often it is claimed that there is a different attitude in Britain to Europe and North America. We found this defeatist, largely without basis and rather insulting to British people. We are confident that the people of Newcastle and Britain have as high a concern for society and the environment as other people. If given the opportunities and facilities, they are just as capable of sorting their waste and recycling as people in other countries. We would suggest that Newcastle Council might learn from cities that have seen a change in attitudes and in action, perhaps by having a Waste Reduction twinning with a city such as Toronto or Halifax where dramatic progress has been made.

Jobs

325. One of the main benefits which would result from expanding recycling and re-use over disposal is that it will provide employment. This is a crucial issue for Newcastle, which still suffers from high levels of unemployment. Chapter 5 outlined the employment benefits of several re-use schemes, all of which could easily be expanded. As recycling is likely to grow and uses local materials and often feeds into local markets, it provides jobs that are relatively long-term. This was a point stressed by many witnesses.
"Significant job creation could outweigh some of the costs" (Jose, 2001)
It is accepted even by those in favour of incinerators that "recycling and composting ... create more jobs". (Murray, 2001b)
Bishop Ambrose Griffiths (2001) pointed to the growing divide between rich and poor and the need to address the issue. He stated that one of the primary ways to reduce poverty is "the creation of jobs" and that kerbside collection and recycling "would provide good employment opportunities"
"The employment-generating opportunities offered by reusing and recycling waste are well documented ... Recycling provides more long-term jobs than incineration" (Stevens, 2001)
326. The impact on employment of any new Waste Strategy for Newcastle is a crucial issue. The assessment on alternative strategies should look at the number of jobs throughout the materials chain and the character of the jobs - their duration, security, etc.

Problems

327. A major problem for the widespread use of recycled materials is the lack of well developed markets. As the report has outlined this is likely to change.
328. As with any waste strategy there are risks and impacts on the environment. The treatment of materials prior to use, such as cleaning of metals, glass and plastics and the de-inking of paper, will clearly have effects. These should form part of the Health and Environmental Impact Assessments that will be conducted after the publication of this report.
329. There are also issues to do with transporting of material. At present glass and paper are transported long distances for recycling. As the volume of materials for recycling and demand for the materials produced increases, it is likely that processing and production plants will become more common. There should be efforts to support the location of such plants in the region thereby reducing transport costs and impacts and providing local jobs.

Conclusions

330. At present re-use and recycling suffer from a lack of support in the initial phase where they are up against long established habits of the throwaway society and the use of virgin materials. In the long term they provide many more benefits to society than disposal of goods and materials. Too many of the decisions on waste are still based on short term and limited accounting which ignores the long-term benefits to the environment, society and employment. We urge Newcastle, One North East and the Government to think, plan and invest long-term and to give full consideration to all the benefits and to support the development of recycling and re-use.
331. We believe financial support is needed in research, publicity, education, raising awareness and supporting new businesses.

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Handling Materials
Chapter 11: Collection of Materials

Problems of Mixed Waste

332. The municipal waste stream deals with a multitude of different materials. The system in Newcastle at the moment mainly consists of the collection of all household waste mixed together in one container. This is a satisfactory approach if ease of disposal is the only aim. However, Government policy is to reduce waste and encourage re-use, composting and recycling.
333. Any strategy that aims to deal effectively with the different materials and to realise the potential uses of them, should be based on the collection of separated materials.
334. Witnesses consistently pointed out the need for separation. Landfill and incineration suffer major problems from dealing with mixed waste.
"One of the main reasons we are faced with the waste industry problems of today, is our insistence on mixing organic wastes with inert wastes." (Pumfrey, 2001b)
335. Compost made from mixed waste is of poor quality, while good compost, that could be sold, used on gardens, parks, etc needs separated materials.
"Segregation was the key." (Pruce, 2001)
"Separation at the household level ... preferred." (Whaley, 2001)
"Important to have a decent collection service up front ... a quality product could never be produced from mixed waste ... if everything was thrown in this would cause problems." (Pumfrey, 2001)
336. Recycling of materials that have been separated from mixed waste is difficult, expensive and not very effective as the materials suffer from contamination which lowers their value and in some cases makes recycling impossible. It is better not to mix than to try and separate afterwards.
"Mechanical separation is extremely expensive ... separation at source is the only way." (Jose, 2001)
"It was not possible to accept mixed waste" [for recycling] (Jose, 2001)
337. The only way to keep the materials separate is at source, in the household.
"Sorting at source into boxes for collection was without doubt the best process ... producing the best quality of separated materials which helped to ensure best prices." (Moore, 2001)

Separation

338. In order to recycle materials, they have to be separated. In theory, this can be carried out by the household, at the kerbside or at a central depot.
339. Household separation involves a simple knowledge of the difference between papers, plastics, glass, cans, etc. It requires some basic education and information, but just as virtually everyone can separate the plates and cups after washing up, the same can be done for the main waste streams. It is also important to provide easily used containers to store the materials and a regular collection so that the materials do not accumulate in houses. Attention needs to be given to flexible systems to accommodate all types of housing. To preserve the separation, collection should be in vehicles with separate compartments for the different materials.
340. To support householders separating materials they need appropriate containers, easily stored and moved, sealed to prevent any odours or attracting pests. A number of places have successfully used a box with a lid for the dry recyclables (Morrish, 2001; Environ, 2001). Some schemes have used plastic bags with different tags or labels to indicate what material is in the bag (Morrish, 2001; Pumfrey, 2001). In addition compostable materials need a separate container, again convenient with a sealed lid. Where householders are well informed and involved there is a good success rate (Moore, 2001; Henry, 2001), this is the case even in high rise flats (Murray, 2001).
341. Separation at the vehicle would still require some pre-separation by the household into dry recyclables, organic and garden waste. Otherwise there would be cross-contamination and the contents of each wheelie bin would need to be handpicked at the kerbside.
342. Sorting mixed waste at a central facility needs either expensive machinery or a lot of labour. The only relatively easily separated materials are metals - steel and aluminium - by using an electromagnet. If it is dealing with totally mixed waste it is impossible to fully separate the different materials (Jose, 2001). Once the ingredients for a cake are mixed together it is impossible to fully separate them again.
343. The cross-contamination, such as food on paper or broken glass mixed with vegetable waste means that the resulting separate streams are of poor quality and will gain only poor prices. The organic stream will risk contamination with pieces of plastic and glass, and traces of heavy metals; at best it will produce "dirty" or 'grey compost'. Even in schemes where the dry recyclables - glass, paper, tins, plastic, etc, are collected mixed although separated from organic waste, there is a level of cross contamination.
344. As the resulting products from central separation of mixed waste are of poor quality and low value it is questionable whether it is worth spending a lot of money on machinery to produce a poor product. If instead of machinery the central sorting is based on hand-picking, the jobs provided are not very attractive as the working conditions are dirty and dangerous.

Other Benefits

345. One of the benefits of household separation and kerbside collection is that it helps to increase the public's awareness of recycling and environmental issues. It also involves the public in taking actions that make a difference.
Household separation "encourages people to think about waste and broader issues such as excessive packaging" (Moore, 2001).
346. As outlined in Chapter 10 recycling creates jobs. The same is true of kerbside collection (Jose, 2001; Murray, 2001).
Kerbside collection provides "new green collar work [and is] highly labour intensive" (Murray, 2001).
347. A kerbside collection scheme is much more flexible, able to respond to changes in waste due to seasons, shifts in taste and production processes. Less of the capital is locked into major dedicated plant and more is in staff and flexible equipment (Murray, 2001).
348. The evidence indicates that separation in the household and then collection into vehicles with separate compartments produces the highest quality of materials. It is more flexible and puts more resources into staff, so provides employment. It also makes people think about how much waste they are producing.

Kerbside Collection

Vehicles

349. The usual waste trucks are large, take mixed waste and compact it. This makes sense if the only aim is to get rid of waste. However if the aim is collect materials for recycling this approach damages materials, crushing, and increases the levels of contamination. Instead for recycling purposes, vehicles with separate containers for the different materials are appropriate. A small electric cart that collects the different materials has many attractions. It does not release fumes onto the street, causes less road congestion and can use narrow back lanes, etc (Collins, 1998; Pumfrey, 2001). The workers have more direct contact with the public which has benefits to raise understanding about recycling. There is a local firm, in Gateshead, that makes these vehicles, so providing local employment.
350. As part of the assessment of options we would recommend consideration of a system of small electric carts that collect the separated materials from households. These can at certain points transfer their loads to larger trucks for transport to a Reclamation Depot.

Frequency

351. The best way to gather materials for recycling is at the household. The basis of this should be a regular kerbside collection of separated waste. Research had shown that the most effective scheme was a weekly collection of separated materials (Morrish, 2001; Environ, 2001, Boden, 2001). This is so that the separated waste does not accumulate in the house, for if it does householders will be tempted to dump it in with the mixed waste. Also a weekly collection makes the habits of separation and putting out of the materials easier.

What to Collect

352. The more material that can be collected the better for the environment and waste reduction. The major cost of collection is the system. A wider range of materials does not dramatically increase costs once the basic system is established. Household separation produces relatively clean materials and the majority of the separation effort is done in the household (Moore, 2001, Henry, 2001; Morrish, 2001). In Chapter 5 the various materials with potential for recycling were outlined.
353. Dry Recyclables
We believe that a collection system should aim to collect dry recyclables including:
  • Glass
  • Hard Plastic
  • Newspapers, magazines and paper
  • Textiles
  • Metals (at least until such time as all unsorted materials are passed through an electromagnet to remove steel and aluminium)
354. Organic Matter
The compostable materials can also be collected. There are issues to be resolved about what exactly can be collected, which partly depends on what treatment process is used and on guidance from the Environment Agency. Depending on these issues either all compostable matter could be collected together or separated into kitchen waste and garden waste. Either in-vessel composting or anaerobic digestion would overcome many of the problems and we believe that these should be investigated and Newcastle should, at least, conduct experiments with such schemes.
355. Hazardous Materials
In addition hazardous materials, such as household batteries, paint and fluorescent tubes, should be collected. This could either be part of the regular collection system, with a separate compartment on the vehicle or entirely separately. The attraction of doing it as part of the regular collection is that it simplifies the process for the household and reduces the need for extra collection journeys.
356. Phasing
It may be better for public involvement to phase in the collection of these streams, starting with dry recyclables and then adding on organic waste, although the system should be designed from the start to expand and take more materials. It would seem best to start with dry recyclables to establish the system and people's involvement. As decisions and guidance about handling compostable materials develop these can be added.

Costs

357. Costs of collection of materials for recycling was one area where witnesses disagreed. Some argued that the costs were a major problem (Rowlands, 2001) so high that it could have only a limited role.
Others argued the opposite "Sorting by the householder makes good economic sense." (Moore, 2001).
As is often the case with costs it is partly about what costs are included in any calculation
358. We believe that the people of Newcastle should have full access to all the information about costs of the waste strategy.

Other Streams

359. A widespread kerbside collection of separated materials would deal with a large portion and, if it included compost, probably the majority of the waste stream. However, there would remain other waste materials and other ways would be needed to collect them.

Civic Amenity Sites

360. Civic Amenity sites are a type of bring scheme in that the public brings the waste to the site. They commonly deal with larger objects and bulky materials and should supplement a good kerbside scheme. Too often they have an image of being a 'dump'. Rowland (2001) called Newcastle's Civic Amenity sites "awful, like scrapyards". The aim should be turn Civic Amenity sites into 'Recycling Centres' (Morrish, 2001).
361. They should be able to handle green and large garden waste, wood, building materials, furniture and white goods and hazardous waste, such as paint and consumer batteries. There should also be places to leave the same separated materials as are collected from the kerbside. The traffic implications need to be considered so that access does not produce congestion, while the sites need to be conveniently located for households. Staff need to take steps to ensure that businesses, if they use it, are not avoiding charges they otherwise would have to pay.
362. The staff should be well trained, both in recycling and in working with the public. The sites should be well designed and cleaned. There needs to be clearly indicated drop off points for the different materials. There could be information displays about ways of handling waste, home composting etc. Good condition materials, timber for example, as well as good condition and refurbished white goods and furniture could be on sale.
363. In 2000 Newcastle's Civic Amenity sites collected 19,000 tonnes of waste, around 10% of the municipal waste stream (Enviroment Agency, 2000b). Newcastle Council has plans to spend �300,000 refurbishing the Walbottle Civic Amenity site (Rowland, 2001). We hope that this will be a landmark site drawing on the best experience of others. Such a site would contribute to Newcastle's waste policy. The experience from Walbottle should then be repeated elsewhere in the city.
364. We see good Civic Amenity sites, 'Recycling Centres', as essential to a successful waste strategy for Newcastle.

Collection of Bulky household goods

365. Newcastle Council already collects large bulky objects, furniture, etc from households. This scheme could be strengthened by connecting it to re-use and recycle facilities such as ReByte (Malone, 2001), Renew (King, 2001) and Community Transport (Leadbitter, 2001; Shipley, 2001).
366. We believe that the free collection scheme of bulky objects, etc is a credit to Newcastle Council and should be continued and linked to the re-use and recycling of the goods collected.

Hazardous Waste

367. As well as a household collection of hazardous waste and collecting it at the Civic Amenity sites, there should be a network of collection points such as at DIY stores.

Bring schemes

368. At present bring schemes, usually in supermarket car parks, are the main source of recycled materials in Newcastle. The introduction of kerbside collection may reduce the use of these sites. On the other hand, some people with cars may still wish to return large quantities of recyclable goods, such as bottles to bring schemes. Also some people who are not able to put out boxes for kerbside collection but have access to a car or live near such a site may find them beneficial. There is a logic to taking the goods back to the store where they came from. Martin (2001) of the Co-op stated that even with kerbside collection they would be keen to continue with bring schemes.

Residue

369. It is likely that even with the introduction of a comprehensive citywide system of collection of materials for composting, recycling and re-use there will still be a remainder of mixed waste. At least in the short-term, some households will not sort their waste and some waste will not be readily composted, recycled or re-used. However Newcastle should aim to introduce smaller wheelie bins to discourage a throwaway approach.

Public Involvement

370. A key factor for the success of kerbside collection, separation of hazardous waste and Civic Amenity schemes is the support of the public (Morrish, 2001, Moore, 2001; Collins, 2001)
"Need to keep householders on side."(Jose, 2001).
Households have the crucial role in the separation.
"The success of recycling in this country depended on the active participation of the public." (Dumpleton, 2001)
This marks a change from the traditional waste disposal approach where the public only had to fill the bin and put it out.
"Separate kerbside collection is the best opportunity for educating and motivating the public." (Moore, 2001)
371. For the proposed system to work the public has to be involved before it is introduced, in its design and implementation. Stevens (2001) gave the example of a Council run kerbside scheme with a participation rate of 10%, while a similar Community run scheme had participation rate of 80%. Too often Councils and large waste companies have adopted a top-down approach and not involved the public enough..
"Essential to listen closely to people in the communities and think your way through." (Boden, 2001)
"In the past the waste management industry had not given the public enough credit for good sense." (Dumpleton, 2001)
372. As well as involvement from the beginning, the public needs to be kept informed regularly (Morrish, 2001). This can include reminders of the basics of recycling, but also news about the progress of the system and the benefits it is bringing to the city. An attraction of small electric collection vehicles is that it would allow more exchange between staff and households, allowing a better two-way exchange of information.
"Put emphasis on the soft side - that is spend the money on advising householders, spending time with them - getting collection vehicles to drive slowly down streets to talk with people and generate commitment." (Murray, 2001)
373. Maintaining public support for kerbside collection is important to its success. One way, is to have some form of community incentives, such as a rebate to community recycling schemes, community groups or schools for the money saved by reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. The rebate could be based on success within defined areas. Individual incentives could also be considered. This would return some of the benefits of recycling to the city's residents.

Handling Waste Streams

374. Newcastle Council, at present, proposes to take all the waste, either directly or via the Benwell station, to Byker (Rowland, 2001). This will be a Transfer station where a crude sorting will take place before the waste is sent to landfill and to a site to produce 'grey compost', as well as possibly going to an incinerator if the city decides on that route. This however is based on the assumption that the collection of a mixed waste stream will deal with the vast majority of the city's waste. A system that gives priority to recycling, re-use and compost will need a different approach.
375. We would suggest the establishment of two major handling facilities, one for material reclamation and one to deal with the residue.

Material Reclamation Centre

376. This would be the destination for the materials from kerbside collections, Bring Schemes and a portion from the Civic Amenity sites. Here the materials would be sorted into different streams with any contamination removed, graded, weighted, packed and dispatched for further use. This would include sorting glass, different types of paper and card, plastics, textiles, etc. Damaged wood, some paper and card could be shredded and added into the compostable materials. Objects for refurbishment and re-use would be dispatched to the appropriate organisations. Good quality wood could be salvaged.
377. The Centre could also handle the hazardous waste collected with sorting and dispatch. The paint could be passed to a local Re>Paint scheme, the consumer batteries to a recycling business that hopefully will develop in Britain.
378. It would also be possible for business waste to be fed into this site, for example compostable waste from supermarkets (Martin, 2001), bottles from the pubs, clubs and hotels of Newcastle and green waste from businesses grounds maintenance.
379. Clearly all this will require offices, buildings, yards, plant and equipment. It will have to be well designed so that it does not have negative environmental or health impacts. It would be a major source of employment, with a wide range of skills, training opportunities, etc. It could also become a magnet for a range of other industries that would use the recycled materials. It could become a key part of developing an Eco-Park in Newcastle.

Transfer Station

380. The mixed waste and the discarded matter from the Reclamation Centre would need to be treated separately. This would involve an initial passing under an electromagnet to remove any remaining steel and aluminium It then could involve preparation for making 'grey compost', if there is sufficient organic matter and the product continues to have a use. However, a better option would be the mechanical and biological treatment to produce a much reduced in weight and largely inert remainder that could be dispatched to landfill. The biological treatment could be by anaerobic digestion to capture the methane gas for use as a fuel.

Location

381. Any facility dealing with waste will have risks of odour, noise, undesirable health and environmental impacts. It is similar to an industrial plant. Such places should not be placed in residential areas (Prescott, 2001, Halliday, 2001). We strongly recommend that these facilities, both the Reclamation Centre and Transfer station, should not be in residential areas. Newcastle Council is presently considering relocating the Benwell site, in part because of the desire to attract new housing to the area. Exactly the same logic should be applied to Byker. The facilities should be in an industrial area with good transport connections.

Integration

382. The different streams of waste and their treatment need to be integrated. Newcastle Council needs to ensure that the different handling systems are not in competition, instead they should complement each other.
383. Community schemes have a high level of enthusiasm and often of success. However they often lack resources and some expertise (Stevens, 2001). Also small collection systems are not able to gain the best prices for the collected materials (Collins, 2001). Newcastle Council has more resources, a trained workforce, etc. By a partnership between community schemes, the Council and business many of these problems could be overcome, with each benefiting from the strengths of the other, so that a good system is provided for the benefit of Newcastle (Jose, 2001).

Conclusions

384. The backbone of an effective system to recycle materials is kerbside collection of household separated materials. This is the best way to produce clean materials so ensuring higher prices and avoiding cross-contamination. This also helps raise awareness on issues on waste.
385. This should be supported by good Civic Amenity sites, hazardous waste collection and continuation of bring schemes.
386. Success is conditional on public involvement before decisions are made, during implementation and throughout operations.
387. The separated dry recyclable and compostable matter should be handled in a Material Reclamation Centre.
388. The residual waste stream will need to be collected and mechanically and biologically treated at a Transfer station to make it safe before being sent to landfill. The treatment could include anaerobic digestion.
389. No major waste handling plant should be located in residential areas.
390. The options outlined here, we believe form the basis of a sustainable waste policy for the Newcastle. There now needs to be more detailed work, looking at the options, to determine how best to implement the general aims including matters such as household containers, vehicles, frequency of collection, incentives, delivery of the collection systems, materials to collect and phasing. There also need to be assessments of the impacts of the options covering health, the environment, employment and other financial issues.

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Looking Ahead
Chapter 12: Local Initiatives

The Advantage of Local

391. Throughout the Select Committee we heard from local people, full of energy and drive, who are making an effort to change our ways of handling of waste. They are committed to a sustainable approach. Much of what they described has already been mentioned in this report. We are also aware that there are others who did not give evidence, but who are also making a difference to this region's methods of dealing with waste. These efforts are in contrast to the general picture with Newcastle recycling less than 4% of its waste (Rowland, 2001) and the Region as a whole at only just over 4% (Environment Agency 2000)
392. We applaud the efforts of local people, in the community, public sector and business, who are working to change the way we deal with waste.
393. The Government's Waste Strategy 2000, includes the Proximity Principle, that waste should be handled near to where it is produced. This is so that areas take responsibility for their actions, rather than exporting the resource opportunity, and to help reduce the transport of waste which has significant environmental impacts. We would add that an approach based on local re-use, recycling and composting will create new business opportunities and employment which certainly the North East should be keen to grasp.

Re-use

394. Newcastle and Tyneside already have a number of organisations involved in re-use, which all have an enthusiasm for what they are involved in.
395. Renew North East, based in Gateshead, takes white goods and refurbishes some for re-use and the remainder are stripped down for parts and to recycle the materials. They provide training for disadvantage people in skilled jobs. The refurbished white goods provide a reliable safe low-cost goods (King, 2001).
396. Community Transport, Newcastle, collects used furniture that people wish to dispose of and diverts it from disposal to re-use. As well as reducing waste, the scheme provides training and helps low income households (Leadbitter, 2001; Shipley, 2001).
397. ReByte, part of the Children's Warehouse in Newcastle, takes discarded computers and upgrades and refurbishes those that they can and strips the materials out of the remainder. Many computers are thrown away, although only a few years old, while still having a long useful life. New computers are still expensive for many people. ReByte reduces waste, ensures computers are re-used to the benefit of low income people and community groups and provides training (Malone, 2001).
398. These three schemes all illustrate the benefits of an integrated approach that is the core of sustainability, in that the policies have benefits for training, social justice, and the environment. All are only scratching the surface of what they potentially could do.
399. The Children's Warehouse has been established for 20 years. It collects over 300 tonnes a year of clean safe materials from businesses that otherwise would end up in waste. These materials are then available for children and young people. The Warehouse's principles are Child Development, Community Arts and Caring for the Environment. The range of materials used and the imagination of children in turning scrap into art was an inspiration (Malone, 2001). Like the other re-use organisations, the Children's Warehouse, puts the much proclaimed 'joined-up thinking' into practice.

Compost

400. Newcastle Council has supported household composting involving 6,000 households and diverting some 1,500 tonnes of waste from landfill. These schemes also benefit the soil and reduce the use of synthetic fertilisers which have various undesirable environmental impacts (Tinling, 2001b).
401. A successful pilot scheme was run with 1,200 households in Chapel Park, Newcastle, to collect compostable kitchen and garden materials. Most people were involved, on average 4 tonnes of materials was collected each week and there was minimal contamination (Tinling, 2001b). However, the Council thought it too expensive to continue.
402. Safe-Waste Systems is a local firm, based in Northumberland, that works to encourage better ways of dealing with organic waste. It markets a simple and robust portable anaerobic digestion system. It is encouraging to meet businessmen, who combine the aim of business success with a commitment to the environment (Whaley, 2001; Reynall, 2001).

Recycling

403. North East Recycling has been operating for 10 years collecting mainly industrial and commercial waste from the Tyneside area. At the moment a lot of the recycled materials are exported due to the lack of uses within the region. Part of their work has been to encourage the establishment of local markets, through local businesses using recycled materials (Jose, 2001).

Awareness

404. Newcastle Community Environment Trust (NCET) runs schemes in schools and community groups, promoting recycling through education and practical action. It operates through 51 Newcastle sites, mostly in schools. Bins are placed on the site and NCET works to raise awareness of recycling issues in the local area by talking to students in assemblies and via lessons and activities within schools. The community aspects are addressed by informal approaches, covering the range of reduce, re-use and recycle. An eco-points award scheme has been developed building towards the 'purchase' of shrubs or green books as a payback for recycling efforts. Newcastle Community Environment Trust has been nationally commended for its efforts, and has employed a paid worker for 3 of its 5 years.
405. Mainstream education can be an instrument for social inclusion. NCET is the only organisation in Newcastle working with schools and the community on recycling. If it does not receive renewed funding by the end of December it is liable to fold. Rowland (2001) stated "there is room for negotiation ... we are beginning to look at landfill credits ... we wouldn't want NCET to die". We urge Newcastle Council to look at ways of continuing and supporting this successful project.
406. BAN Waste at events such as the Ouseburn Festival and Newcastle Green Festival have found a widespread interest and support for reducing waste and re-using, composting and recycling. Over 120 people attended a meeting on waste organised by the former Lord Mayor, Peter Thompson, as part of a series of events in support of Local Agenda 21. Many people expressed frustration at the present lack of official support for such an alternative strategy. Already a section of Newcastle's citizens are keen to see a shift in the way we deal with waste.

Opportunities

407. At the moment recycling in Newcastle and the region lags behind the British average, which in turn is far behind the best achieved in some European and North American cities. This should be seen as a challenge and an opportunity. Newcastle could aim to be a national and even an international leader within a decade. This would mean a change in people's attitudes and in the way the City authorities view waste. Newcastle could tie its targets for changes in waste management to its aim of being European City of Culture in 2008. Success would bring rewards to the city.
408. The alternatives discussed in this report, we believe, offer a way for Newcastle City, the Council and its citizens, to make a change. This could help make Newcastle a cleaner and a greener city.
409. As Jose (2001) pointed out, at present a large portion of the recycled materials are exported, because of a lack of uses in the region. There are many opportunities to develop new businesses and industries in the region that use recycled materials.
410. The present re-use schemes that we discussed would offer greater benefits if they were provided with support to expand their coverage and volume. There are also opportunities to develop new ones in the area such as Re>Paint. Most of these schemes provide benefits for the environment, society and the economy.
411. The re-use and recycling of materials will be a growth industry of the future. We are only at the beginning of a big change in the way that society views and uses waste (Dumpleton, 2001; Murray, 2001). In the future it will be seen more as a resource, not as problem.
412. Government Office, ONE North East and Newcastle Council all have an important role in supporting research and development, providing start-up support for businesses and generally encouraging a shift to make better use of resources and to build a more sustainable society and economy.

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Looking Ahead
Chapter 13: Making Choices

Change

413. For decades the household waste industry in Britain was based on simply collecting waste and disposing of it to landfill. Now this is all changing. Society can no longer continue with its throwaway approach. We are at the beginning of a major shift to seeing waste as a resource. Both the way society deals with waste and what is considered waste is going through a fundamental change.
"Take the long view - waste will be totally different in 30 years, [we] need to be totally flexible towards change." (Boden, 2001)
414. In the past the waste industry was based on 'predict and provide', estimates were made about how much waste would be produced in 5, 10 or 20 years, and then ways were sought to dispose of the expected waste. Many waste facilities especially landfill and incinerators are based on long-term expectations. However given all the changes in the waste stream this approach is no longer satisfactory. Halliday (2001), Chair of the North East Region Technical Advisory Board was clear;
"Predict and Provide is dead."
"It is impossible to predict in an industry which is having the most radical change that had happened ... for a century." (Murray, 2001)
415. There are uncertainties around changes in regulation, both from the Government and the EU; producer responsibility; taxes; consumer attitudes; new technologies and new materials (Murray, 2001; Halliday, 2001). All of this means that a waste strategy needs to be flexible and able to adapt to change.
"Change is here to stay ... Household waste will not be the same in 10 years as now." (Stevens, 2001)
416. This flexibility requires a major change in the outlook of councils and the waste industry.
"Need to think outside the square. " (Pumfrey, 2001)
"There is a need to change ways ... and a shake-up." (Pruce, 2001)
"There is a need to challenge the status quo, be pro-active and radical." (Stevens, 2001)
417. A sustainable waste strategy for Newcastle has to be based on flexibility.

Public Involvement

418. The witnesses and this report have already stressed the importance of public involvement in decisions about waste strategy. This means that the public must be involved from the start of the discussion, through to deciding priorities, developing policies and to implementation.
"Need to react positively to public consultation." (Pruce, 2001)
"The question of stakeholders is vital ... had everyone - not just the waste industry - been involved?" (Stevens, 2001)
Strategy "could only be strengthened by involving the community". (Morrish, 2001)
"Now it is time to give people the opportunity to think." (Pumfrey, 2001)
"Involvement of local people vital." (Jose, 2001)
"Better to work with people ... take people with you." (Collins, 2001)
"In order to have good waste management it is essential to have the community in the centre." (Murray, 2001)
419. Public involvement is important to ensure that the best decisions are made and that there is public support for the actions decided. This is particularly important for a successful policy of re-using, composting and recycling.
420. The Guidance on Municipal Waste Management Strategies (DETR, 2000b) requires that the strategy "should be open to meaningful and wide-ranging consultation".
421. Before any further long-term decisions are taken about Newcastle's waste strategy there should be full public involvement in discussing alternatives, deciding priorities and choosing the best means to achieve these ends.

Information

422. Alongside public involvement is the need for information about the levels and composition of waste, choices and their impacts of different waste strategies (Halliday, 2001; Morrish, 2001).
"Waste analysis is vital." (Stevens, 2001)
423. A first pre-requisite is accurate information about what is the composition of Newcastle's waste stream, how it varies with seasons and in different neighbourhoods. At present Newcastle does not have this information, it bases its analysis of the waste stream on national figures (Rowland, 2001). There is research at the moment into the city's waste composition.
424. The different waste strategies should be assessed for their possible impacts. There will be choices about the pluses and minuses. The key issues that need to be assessed are the impacts on health and well-being, the environment, employment and other financial issues. When examining cost and benefits it is important to include the methods of Green Auditing. While recognising some of the difficulties of putting money values to health and the environment, it is important that at least approximate values are included. Also to be included are the benefits of the different options in terms of their impacts on employment and the follow-on benefits from jobs, such as better health, social capacity and reduced costs to other city budgets.
425. While there will be disagreements on the evaluation of risks and danger, particularly in terms of health impacts (Prescott, 2001; Thistlewood, 2001), the report should openly reflect such disagreements. Where there is uncertainty, the Precautionary Principle should be applied, decisions should lean to avoiding or reducing the potential of damage to the environment or human health (DETR, 2000).
426. The results of such assessments need to be accessible to the general public and inform any debate and decisions.
427. No long-term commitments, which cannot be easily changed, should be taken on Newcastle's waste strategy until there has been a full and open assessment of the potential impacts on health and well-being, the environment, employment and finance.

Contract

428. Handling Newcastle's waste has major impacts on employment, health and the environment and it also involves major financial expenditure. It is clear that, to make the best choices, there should be an informed public discussion before any long-term decisions are made. In order to have such a discussion the people of Newcastle need information about the composition of the waste stream and a choice of waste strategies with assessments on the impacts of those options. In addition, the North East has yet to adopt a regional waste strategy (Halliday, 2001). It would seem good practice for the city to aim to co-ordinate its strategy within the region, rather than taking long-term decisions in isolation.
429. BAN Waste has been assured that the contract with SITA for handling the waste is flexible (Rowland, 2001; Taylor, 2001). We trust that this means it is open enough to accommodate whatever strategy the people of Newcastle choose. We also recommend that Newcastle Council, as the owner of the land, does not apply for planning permission or go ahead with any moves towards a new incinerator in Byker, at least until after a full public discussion on the choices about a waste strategy.
430. We are moreover concerned that there are plans to sign a contract for collection of some recyclable materials early in 2002 (Rowland, 2001b). This will preclude a full debate.
431. We request that any contract agreed on kerbside collection of recycled materials meets as a minimum, this Report's recommendations and is flexible enough to allow change and expansion.
432. There are concerns that tying the city into a long-term contract will reduce flexibility and cause future difficulties as attitudes, regulations and the waste stream change.
"Rigid contracts had a tendency to hurt the Council." (Stevens, 2001)
"Need to develop 'flexibility' to deal with change ... with all these uncertainties the idea of putting in a capital-intensive plant is inappropriate." (Murray, 2001)
"It is not possible to stick to a rigid plan over a 20 year period and that ... flexibility in terms of strategy and length of contract was at the present time considered to be an important message because of the uncertainties of the future and new emerging technologies." (Halliday, 2001)
433. The people of Newcastle need to know what flexibilities are possible within the current waste contract.
434. Newcastle needs a new waste strategy, to change the way the city deals with waste, that is flexible so that it can deal with changes in waste, legislation and people's decisions. Contracts should only be agreed after a full assessment of options and public involvement in the decisions.

Looking Ahead - Choices

435. All those involved in waste will need to change their approach if Britain and Newcastle are to have a sustainable waste strategy. The report has concentrated on issues to do with Newcastle, the Council and the citizens. They clearly have the major role in changing how municipal waste is handled in the city.

Citizens

436. The people of Newcastle have a crucial role in deciding the future waste strategy of the city. Households are the end of the chain from producer to store to home, for most packaging and products. They have the choice on what happens to these objects; are they thrown away as waste or treated as a resource for further use. There is already an awareness of the need to change. Citizens' have the right to expect a system that supports recycling, composting and re-use. But in the end, the choice to recycle or throw in the bin is made by the households.
437. The citizens' of Newcastle can also make a difference as the payers of Council tax and through the political process.

Newcastle Council

438. The Local Government Act 2000 (DETR, 2000c) gives local authorities the power to "promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area". A sustainable waste strategy offers the opportunity to do just that. The Act also urges local authorities to "actively engage the community in local decisions". The approach that we urge in this report fits well with the aims of the Act.
439. The report has outlined a number of options around the core aim of Newcastle having a sustainable waste strategy. It aims to treat the waste produced as high up the hierarchy as possible, concentrating on re-use, recycling and composting. This strategy would not require an expensive and unpopular incinerator. Such policies would also have employment benefits.
440. We have proposed a target of cutting in half the waste sent to landfill in 5 years. We would suggest the Council agrees a long-term goal of Zero Waste and joins the Zero Waste International movement.
441. Public involvement, from the beginning, is crucial to the success of such a strategy. This report and the wider role of BAN Waste offer Newcastle Council an ideal opportunity for public involvement. We would urge the Council to encourage a full discussion on this report, the assessments of the options and the Final Report. After this process we hope that there would be strong public support for the principles and policies outlined in this report. On this basis the Council, with the support of the city's citizens, could agree a new waste strategy with confidence.
442. The options outlined in this report can form the basis of a policy that is based on sustainability and will be one we can all be proud of now and into the future. With strong public support for such a policy, after a good public involvement process, Newcastle Council would be in a strong position to approach the government for additional funding, perhaps through the �140 million Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund.
443. Rowlands, Director of Cityworks (2001) believed that recycling, reuse and compost levels of "80% could be achieved in major shifts, say by 2020".
444. We welcome this outlook and recognise that it is in line with the aims of the Select Committee. We believe that with determination and imagination the Council and people of Newcastle could achieve such success. Newcastle Council has a choice about the future waste strategy for the city.

Government

445. As well as Newcastle's citizens and Council, we recognise that others have an important role to play as well.
"Government, industry and manufacturing have to develop a different economic context." (Rowland, 2001)
446. The legislation introduced by the Government has already had a major impact. However, the government still "regards the use of legislation ... as an instrument of last resort. They would rather explore the 'voluntary' aspect'." (Wrigley, 2001) This is in spite of the reluctance of some businesses and local authorities to adopt new sustainable waste policies.
447. At present the Government's policy concentrates on reduction in the weight of waste. There needs to be a recognition in the targets that some materials are more hazardous or cause greater problems in disposal. The targets and the financial structures need to positively encourage policies that act towards the top of the waste hierarchy. Too often councils are forced to take decisions only on narrow funding issues. The Government's financial support to local authorities and targets should include issues such as employment, health and environmental benefits.
448. Waste reduction, which is the top of the waste hierarchy, is neglected in the legislation and the targets of Waste Strategy 2000; this needs to change. Waste minimisation is particularly a responsibility of producers.
"Minimisation takes place at source." (Henry, 2001)
"Can't look at waste in isolation - part of food production, transport etc." (Boden, 2001)
449. There are also processes and materials that cause problems for recycling, composting and re-use; the Government should consider legislation to deal with these. Government needs to give clearer guidance and support to waste minimisation, recycling and re-use. There needs to be economic support to kick-start the changes needed throughout society to change the way we deal with waste.
450. The Government has stated it wishes to see a significant change in the way society produces and handles waste. The Government has the choice whether it acts to realise its aims with legislation, guidance, research, public persuasion and financial tools

Environment Agency

451. Waste is potentially hazardous, whether handled in landfill, incineration, etc. Therefore it is right that the treatment of waste is heavily regulated. It is important that the Environment Agency enforces these regulations and has the public's confidence in its actions. In Chapter 9 we commented on some of our concerns about the Environment Agency, its slowness in answering questions and the lack of leadership on issues to do with compost. The definition of compost needs to be clarified with the aim of, whilst protecting health, encouraging composting as a means of dealing with waste.
452. More widely, our experience of the witnesses from the Environment Agency led us to echo the findings of the House of Commons Environment Committee (2001). The effectiveness of the Environment Agency as a regulatory body should be reviewed both in terms of how well they exercise their existing powers and whether the powers they have are sufficient to deal with the main public concerns.
453. We believe the Environment Agency must improve its policies and public reputation, which has been tarnished by recent events, as the defender of the best interest of the public and a champion of the environment and sustainable development. It also needs to be more open and engaging with the public.
454. The present monitoring of polluting plants, such as landfill sites and incinerators, needs greater clarity to avoid the risks of misinterpretation. The Environment Agency should automatically monitor waste contracts at the planning stage. Operational checks should be carried out independently of the operator and on a much more regular basis than once a year.
455. We would suggest that the public role in monitoring, which already is very important but unrecognised, is given due recognition and support. Both Newcastle Council and the Environment Agency should involve and support the public in scrutiny of the handling and management of waste. Local people should have resources and should be encouraged, if they feel the need, to challenge actions. The aim should be a citizens' monitoring system with the powers to contest audits (Murray, 2001).

Business

456. Some businesses have embraced a changed way of dealing with waste and have realised the economic opportunities. However a large section of business is lagging behind and still needs to be pushed by legislation.
"Often management was not aware of scale of their waste ... once the issue is identified and measures taken, up to 40% savings in waste had been achieved." (Jose, 2001)
"It was not possible to give waste minimisation away at the commercial end." (Wrigley, 2001)
Regulation has driven retailers, "but once retailers became aware of the amount being wasted - and the damage to the environment - they were responding". (Martin, 2001)
457. We would urge more businesses to reduce the amount of waste they produce and to support the re-use, composting and recycling of the waste that is produced and hope that ONE North East and Newcastle Council will provide support for such changes. There is the opportunity for the city to be at the front of a new wave of economic growth. Businesses in the region have a choice whether to grasp the opportunities.

Next Stage

458. This, the Interim Report of the BAN Waste Select committee, has reviewed issues to do with the handling of waste and presented some possible alternative strategies for Newcastle's waste. There will now be an assessment of the various options and a public debate. The results of the assessments and the views of the public will be considered in Phase 2 of the Select Committee. This will produce a well-reasoned recommendation for a sustainable waste strategy for Newcastle.
459. We hope Newcastle Council will recognise the opportunities of this report and fully support the process of public involvement in decision-making.
460. We hope Newcastle Council will agree:
  • To cut waste disposal to landfill in half in 5 years by 2007, this to be part of Newcastle's vision of a City of Culture.
  • To support the goal of Zero Waste as a long-term vision

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Chapter 14: Conclusions

461. Select Committee's Terms of Reference
"To examine and recommend an appropriate waste strategy for the citizens of Newcastle, and to see what needs to be done by individuals, companies and the local authority to facilitate that strategy. In particular, to look at:
  • The national guidance in the Government's Waste Strategy 2000.
  • The implications for such a strategy for the health of the community, the provision of employment, the environmental and the financial implications for citizens.
  • Examples of best practice nationally and internationally.
To develop new methods of participatory democracy and to ensure local people are able to have an effective say in any proposals for a waste strategy." (Para. 6)
462. Society needs to move from waste disposal to resource recovery, so that waste is treated as a local resource. (Para. 30)
463. We welcome the aims of the Government's Waste Strategy 2000 of "breaking the link between economic growth and waste production" and "putting waste which is produced to good use". (Para. 52)
464. It is a disappointment that there is very little policy or action targeted at waste reduction and minimisation. (Para. 58)
465. The Government should include targets not only for the reduction of waste by weight but also for the reduction of hazardous materials. (Para. 60)
466. The present UK targets risk that we continue to lag behind the best of Europe. We echo the view of the Select Committee on Environment that there is a lack of vision in the strategy. Within the lifespan of the present targets, 2015, they are likely to be superseded by stronger policy from the UK government and Europe. (Para. 62)
467. In the last 30 years, humans have used up 30% of the earth's natural capital. All of the energy and materials that society uses, largely to end up thrown away as waste, reduces the resources available for the future, creates pollution and often damages the environment. (Para. 66)
468. Instead of the present one-way flow of materials from production to waste we need a circular flow where materials are used many times. Society needs to close the loop. (Para. 77)
469. We would urge the Government to push for a change in the priorities of the World Trade Organisation so that sustainable use of resources and greater international justice are much more important. (Para. 95)
470. The Government should introduce targets and support programmes on waste minimisation as part of the waste strategy. (Para. 96)
471. ONE North East, as the lead economic policy body in the region, should have a waste minimisation programme to support businesses and councils that are moving to reduce the use of materials and energy in the production of goods and support production of goods to last. This could include supporting research and innovation, start-up support for business, co-ordinating activity (maybe as one of the business clusters it seeks to encourage) and contributing to providing public information and raising awareness. (Para. 97)
472. The issue of confidentiality of contracts raises serious wider issues about the democratic accountability of local government services. Contracts are signed on behalf to the public yet the public cannot see them. (Para. 126)
473. We urge the Council, with the District Auditor, to ensure that as much information as possible, including costs per year, is in the public domain to ensure democratic debate. (Para. 127)
474. We would urge the Council to adopt, instead of a policy based on disposing of waste, one that views waste as a resource to be used for the benefit of the economy and society. This strategy should aim for treatments at the top of the hierarchy - re-use, recycling and composting. (Para. 134)
475. We urge Newcastle Council to consider adopting two aims:
  • To cut waste disposal to landfill in half in 5 years by 2007, this to be part of Newcastle's vision of a City of Culture.
  • To support the goal of Zero Waste as a long-term vision (Para. 135)
476. Newcastle Council and the home composters are to be commended for their actions and this should be further supported and encouraged by the Council. (Para. 147)
477. Although this is an issue beyond the scope of Newcastle Council and most householders, we believe that there should be a thorough investigation into the relative costs and benefits of recycling and re-using drinks bottles, drawing on the experience of the countries with successful re-use policies. If it is found that there are benefits in re-use the Government should take action to support its widespread adoption in Britain. (Para. 153)
478. A scheme to separately collect and deal with fluorescent tubes should be introduced. (Para. 155)
479. Newcastle Council should investigate and facilitate a good alternative to disposable nappies being thrown in the rubbish such as a nappy laundering service and biodegradable nappies which can be composted in advanced systems (Para. 168).
480. The recycling and re-use of wood, both the practicality and the market opportunities, should be investigated. (Para. 170)
481. There already exist in Newcastle and the region a number of schemes that re-use household goods and we would urge these to be supported, strengthened and increased in Newcastle. Financial help could include at least receiving the cost of the landfill that is saved by re-use. (Para. 173)
482. There is a need for a separate collection route for consumer batteries to avoid them contaminating any later treatment of the waste stream. (Para. 180)
483. The UK government should act to ensure that there is a safe disposal/recycle facility for consumer batteries within the country. (Para. 181)
484. We urge Newcastle Council to support the establishment of a Community Re>Paint scheme. (Para. 184)
485. When the waste stream is analysed it is clear that the vast majority of materials have the potential to be re-used and recycled. One of the problems posed by the present system of waste handling is that all the different materials are mixed together with the likelihood that they contaminate each other. (Para. 185)
486. We commend the existing operations that re-use household goods or recycle the components, but believe that these operations should be greatly extended so that most electrical goods and household furnishings are treated in this manner. This would have environmental, economic and social benefits. Newcastle Council can provide support both in supplying goods, such as computers, and in the use of the goods after refurbishment, such as dramatically increasing the number of computers in schools or supplying furniture and white goods to those in need. Passing on the financial savings of avoiding landfill would also help. (Para. 188)
487. A number of problem materials such as consumer batteries, nappies, fluorescent light tubes and paint need to be separated from the general waste stream to be treated separately. As well as action by Newcastle Council, the Government should consider the introduction of specific regulations to prevent these materials entering into the waste stream. This could possibly be a producer responsibility to organise safe and separate collection and treatment of these objects. (Para. 189)
488. There are objects which are made of a mix of materials, such as cartons for juice, which are very difficult to recycle or re-use. Some of the chemicals used in the treatment of timber are harmful to the environment and health. The Government should consider legislation to prohibit the production of any goods that cannot readily be re-used, recycled or composted. (Para. 190)
489. We would expect that any proposed new sites for landfill are carefully assessed to the see how suitable they are, how long the site will last and the implications for transport to these sites. The impact on communities and their views are also crucial issues. (Para. 203)
490. We would suggest that Newcastle Council considers landfill as an option for dealing with the residual waste stream after:
  • all the materials that can be reused, recycled and composted are removed
  • all potentially harmful materials such as paint and batteries are removed
  • the remainder is mechanically and biologically treated
This remaining portion of the waste to be placed in state-of-the-art landfill sites with full controls and monitoring. (Para. 206)
491. If Newcastle Council decided to ignore our recommendations, and propose a new incinerator, we believe a new and genuine inquiry and consultation would have to take place. (Para. 213)
492. The mixed waste going into an incinerator contains materials that will produce dioxins, acids, harmful gases and reactive forms of heavy metals. The incinerator will not destroy these chemicals. Some can be reduced by careful control of the burning process. A modern incinerator relies on a complex set of filters which should remove the harmful gases and particles, before releasing the cleaned air to the atmosphere. This requires a "huge investment to ensure what comes out the chimneys is safe". The filters and captured particles, called fly ash, have to be disposed of in special landfill sites as the process of burning and filtering acts to concentrate these dangerous chemicals. (Para. 220)
493. Incinerators, including their filter systems, are expensive capital intensive plants, costing between �60 million and �100 million. They employ relatively few staff once they are constructed. To be financially viable they require a reliable and constant supply of waste and to operate over a long period, around 20 years. (Para. 221)
494. In spite of changes in technology and regulation, the new incinerators have suffered from worries about health and safety. These concerns have been expressed about mixing bottom ash and fly ash at Byker and Edmonton, the fire in the Dundee plant and the release of harmful gases above legal limits at Sheffield. There are public worries about the dioxins released from incinerators. The health and environmental impacts of incinerators, along with other waste strategies, will be one of the key issues to be considered in the Health and Environmental Impact Assessments that will carried out following this report. These findings will be reviewed in the next stage of the Select Committee and will be part of the Final Report. All of this will inform the public debate which will take place before Newcastle decides its long-term waste strategy. (Para. 222)
495. Incinerators are expensive to build, provide relatively few jobs and need a long-term operating contract with a reliable waste supply to be financially viable. There are risks that the investment in incineration, which is near the bottom of the waste hierarchy, would limit the commitment to the higher levels of the hierarchy including waste reduction, re-use, recycling and composting. Given the long-term nature of the commitment to an incinerator, to be viable it assumes that Newcastle will fail to meet the Government targets, let alone the standards we, and hopefully the people of Newcastle, aspire to. There are real concerns about the Health and Environment impacts of incineration. Communities are opposed to having an incinerator nearby. (Para. 235)
496. The priorities for the use of money, resources and people's energy should be towards solutions for waste near the top of waste hierarchy, reduce, reuse, compost and recycle. (Para. 236)
497. We urge Newcastle Council to give full consideration to a waste strategy without incineration. (Para. 237)
498. We would recommend that the residents of Byker no longer pay the historic capital costs of the Byker heating system. The Government should be approached to meet the capital costs of what was an experimental scheme. (Para. 249)
499. There are separate issues to do with the costs of the heating system, the thermal efficiency of houses and the way that heat is supplied to the houses. (Para. 252)
500. The Council has considered installing heat meters in the houses. Such a proposal would have to be acceptable to the residents of Byker. A pre-condition is that the thermal efficiency of Byker houses must be at least up to the national standards with windows double glazed and draft-proofed, reliable thermostats that include time settings, and improved insulation where possible. (Para. 253)
501. We would propose for consideration for the heating of Byker the establishment of small Combined Heat and Power plants with embedded electricity generation with the heat feeding into localised Group Heating. This would include:
  • A Combined Heat and Power system, with the sale of electricity to local users (Embedded generation), covering the majority of costs so that the heating can be economic.
  • Small scale generation and local heat distribution (group heating) to avoid some of the maintenance costs of the present large scale heat network
  • Boilers and Combined Heat and Power that can run on more than one fuel, perhaps with a future option of biogas from anaerobic digestion. (Para. 256)
502. Clearly there is a need for a thorough and public investigation into the problems of heating Byker with the aim of producing a better system, with full regard to financial and social benefits for the residents and efficient use of heat. The residents of Byker should be fully involved in such a review and should have the right to decide on what is the most appropriate system. (Para. 257)
503. We do not see Pyrolysis or Gasification having a role in Newcastle's Waste Strategy. (Para. 261)
504. We see great potential for anaerobic digestion, since it can be designed to treat either separated organic materials or mixed waste. We hope SITA and Newcastle Council will co-operate with a local North East company to use small anaerobic digesters to treat some local waste, to demonstrate the value of this system. We do however note that if contaminants such as heavy metals are present in the waste to be treated there are severe limits to any use for the solid material produced. (Para. 268)
505. Anaerobic digestion should be seen as complementary to composting and part of an overall waste strategy. We hope that Newcastle Council will quickly evaluate the different designs for anaerobic digestion and consider its role in the handling of the city's waste. (Para. 269)
506. We believe that compost has a major role to play in any waste strategy. It can significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Compost can be a valued resource that could help restore soil quality and reduce the need for synthetic fertilisers and peat. However like incineration, anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis, the quality of the material produced, and the problem of pollution, depends very much on the quality of the material which goes in. (Para. 293)
507. To ensure the full development of the potential for compost we believe the Environment Agency must clarify the present guidance with the aim of, while ensuring safety, encouraging the immediate and wide-spread development of composting. (Para. 294)
508. The Government, Environment Agency, and the Compost Association should agree on standards for compost and launch a marketing drive for good quality compost. (Para. 295)
509. For Newcastle's strategy we have grave reservations about the proposal to produce 'grey compost'. This will be a low value material with limited use, which may well face restrictions in production and use in the next few years. Its production will take resources that instead could be used to produce a much higher value compost. Depending on the definitions for compost, which are awaited from the Environment Agency, it is possible that 'grey compost' may not be classed as compost at all in the near future, so investment in the technology to produce it would be wasted. (Para. 296)
510. The priority in Newcastle should be to separate as much compostable material as possible, both food and garden materials. The Council needs to assess how a safe, pollution-free kerbside collection system can be put in place for domestic waste. It also needs to encourage increased composting of green waste and measure how much is composted (The Government needs to give local authorities credit for this in the statistics). The Council also needs to ensure there are good Civic Amenity sites available to all communities to deal with green waste. (Para. 297)
511. We commend the present home composting scheme in Newcastle. It should be supported and effort made to extend it (The Government should include home and community composting in the composting targets). (Para. 298)
512. There are opportunities to greatly extend composting of Newcastle's waste, both community and larger schemes. (Para. 299)
513. There are opportunities to cooperate with industry, as the example of the Co-op's keenness to compost its food waste illustrates, which the Council should explore. (Para. 300)
514. There should be a thorough investigation into the potential for sealed composting, which overcomes many of the problems of odour, pests and pathogens, to deal with a significant portion of Newcastle's waste. (Para. 301)
515. The aim of supporting and encouraging the use of recycled materials in existing industries and finding new uses needs to become central to the economic strategies of both central Government and the regional development agency, ONE North East. (Para. 313)
516. We would urge the Government to introduce guidelines ensuring that there are no barriers to local authorities buying recycled materials and instead, require the preferential purchase of products made from recycled materials as a condition of receiving public funds. Until this happens we would urge Newcastle City Council to adopt such a policy and to challenge other major organisations, both public and private, to adopt a similar policy. (Para. 317)
517. We urge Newcastle Council to build on the educational efforts made at present by putting resources into raising understanding in partnership with communities, as an immediate priority. (Para. 320)
518. The impact on employment of any new Waste Strategy for Newcastle is a crucial issue. The assessment on alternative strategies should look at the number of jobs throughout the materials chain and the character of the jobs - their duration, security, etc. (Para. 326)
519. At present re-use and recycling suffer from a lack of support in the initial phase where they are up against long established habits of the throwaway society and the use of virgin materials. In the long term they provide many more benefits to society than disposal of goods and materials. Too many of the decisions on waste are still based on short term and limited accounting which ignores the long-term benefits to the environment, society and employment. We urge Newcastle, One North East and the Government to think, plan and invest long-term and to give full consideration to all the benefits and to support the development of recycling and re-use. (Para. 330)
520. We believe financial support is needed in research, publicity, education, raising awareness and supporting new businesses. (Para. 331)
521. Any strategy that aims to deal effectively with the different materials and to realise the potential uses of them, should be based on the collection of separated materials. (Para. 333)
522. The evidence indicates that separation in the household and then collection into vehicles with separate compartments produces the highest quality of materials. It is more flexible and puts more resources into staff, so provides employment. It also makes people think about how much waste they are producing. (Para. 348)
523. We believe that a collection system should aim to collect dry recyclables including:
  • Glass
  • Hard Plastic
  • Newspapers, magazines and paper
  • Textiles
  • Metals (at least until such time as all unsorted materials are passed through an electromagnet to remove steel and aluminium) (Para. 353)
524. We believe that the people of Newcastle should have full access to all the information about costs of the waste strategy. (Para. 358)
525. We see good Civic Amenity sites, 'Recycling Centres', as essential to a successful waste strategy for Newcastle. (Para. 364)
526. We believe that the free collection scheme of bulky objects, etc is a credit to Newcastle Council and should be continued and linked to the re-use and recycling of the goods collected. (Para. 366)
527. As well as a household collection of hazardous waste and collecting it at the Civic Amenity sites, there should be a network of collection points such as at DIY stores. (Para. 367)
528. Maintaining public support for kerbside collection is important to its success. One way, is to have some form of community incentives, such as a rebate to community recycling schemes, community groups or schools for the money saved by reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. The rebate could be based on success within defined areas. Individual incentives could also be considered. This would return some of the benefits of recycling to the city's residents. (Para. 373)
529. We would suggest the establishment of two major handling facilities, one for material reclamation and one to deal with the residue. (Para. 375)
530. The backbone of an effective system to recycle materials is kerbside collection of household separated materials. This is the best way to produce clean materials so ensuring higher prices and avoiding cross-contamination. This also helps raise awareness on issues on waste. (Para. 384)
531. This should be supported by good Civic Amenity sites, hazardous waste collection and continuation of bring schemes. (Para. 385)
532. Success is conditional on public involvement before decisions are made, during implementation and throughout operations. (Para. 386)
533. The separated dry recyclable and compostable matter should be handled in a Material Reclamation Centre. (Para. 387)
534. The residual waste stream will need to be collected and mechanically and biologically treated at a Transfer station to make it safe before being sent to landfill. The treatment could include anaerobic digestion. (Para. 388)
535. No major waste handling plant should be located in residential areas. (Para. 389)
536. The options outlined here, we believe form the basis of a sustainable waste policy for the Newcastle. There now needs to be more detailed work, looking at the options, to determine how best to implement the general aims including matters such as household containers, vehicles, frequency of collection, incentives, delivery of the collection systems, materials to collect and phasing. There also need to be assessments of the impacts of the options covering health, the environment, employment and other financial issues. (Para. 390)
537. We applaud the efforts of local people, in the community, public sector and business, who are working to change the way we deal with waste. (Para. 392)
538. Government Office, ONE North East and Newcastle Council all have an important role in supporting research and development, providing start-up support for businesses and generally encouraging a shift to make better use of resources and to build a more sustainable society and economy. (Para. 412)
539. A sustainable waste strategy for Newcastle has to be based on flexibility. (Para. 417)
540. Before any further long-term decisions are taken about Newcastle's waste strategy there should be full public involvement in discussing alternatives, deciding priorities and choosing the best means to achieve these ends. (Para. 421)
541. No long-term commitments, which cannot be easily changed, should be taken on Newcastle's waste strategy until there has been a full and open assessment of the potential impacts on health and well-being, the environment, employment and finance. (Para. 427)
542. We request that any contract agreed on kerbside collection of recycled materials meets as a minimum, this Report's recommendations and is flexible enough to allow change and expansion. (Para. 431)
543. The people of Newcastle need to know what flexibilities are possible within the current waste contract. (Para. 433)
544. Newcastle needs a new waste strategy, to change the way the city deals with waste, that is flexible so that it can deal with changes in waste, legislation and people's decisions. Contracts should only be agreed after a full assessment of options and public involvement in the decisions. (Para. 434)
545. The Government has stated it wishes to see a significant change in the way society produces and handles waste. The Government has the choice whether it acts to realise its aims with legislation, guidance, research, public persuasion and financial tools (Para. 450)
546. We believe the Environment Agency must improve its policies and public reputation, which has been tarnished by recent events, as the defender of the best interest of the public and a champion of the environment and sustainable development. It also needs to be more open and engaging with the public. (Para. 453)
547. The present monitoring of polluting plants, such as landfill sites and incinerators, needs greater clarity to avoid the risks of misinterpretation. The Environment Agency should automatically monitor waste contracts at the planning stage. Operational checks should be carried out independently of the operator and on a much more regular basis than once a year. (Para. 454)
548. We would suggest that the public role in monitoring, which already is very important but unrecognised, is given due recognition and support. Both Newcastle Council and the Environment Agency should involve and support the public in scrutiny of the handling and management of waste. Local people should have resources and should be encouraged, if they feel the need, to challenge actions. The aim should be a citizens' monitoring system with the powers to contest audits (Para. 455).
549. We would urge more businesses to reduce the amount of waste they produce and to support the re-use, composting and recycling of the waste that is produced and hope that ONE North East and Newcastle Council will provide support for such changes. There is the opportunity for the city to be at the front of a new wave of economic growth. Businesses in the region have a choice whether to grasp the opportunities. (Para. 457)
550. This, the Interim Report of the BAN Waste Select committee, has reviewed issues to do with the handling of waste and presented some possible alternative strategies for Newcastle's waste. There will now be an assessment of the various options and a public debate. The results of the assessments and the views of the public will be considered in Phase 2 of the Select Committee. This will produce a well-reasoned recommendation for a sustainable waste strategy for Newcastle. (Para. 458)
551. We hope Newcastle Council will recognise the opportunities of this report and fully support the process of public involvement in decision-making. (Para. 459)
552. We hope Newcastle Council will agree:
  • To cut waste disposal to landfill in half in 5 years by 2007, this to be part of Newcastle's vision of a City of Culture.
  • To support the goal of Zero Waste as a long-term vision (Para. 460)

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References

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Appendix 1:
BAN Waste and the Select Committee

1. All BAN Waste members, listed at the end of this section, have contributed to ensure the Select Committee took place. Without them, none of this investigation and resulting reports would have happened.
2. BAN Waste has worked to stimulate public interest and debate on waste issues and to find ways to involve the public in decisions. One example of BAN Waste's impact was shown at the Local Agenda 21 debates, looking at sustainability, organised in early 2001 by the then Lord Mayor, Peter Thompson. Of this series, the debate on waste was by far the best attended with over 120 people, even though other meetings were on issues that are usually much higher up the political agenda including education, culture and health. This is a striking example of how waste has become a political issue in Newcastle.

BAN Waste Background

3. In August, 1999 local residents of Byker, in the east end of Newcastle, became aware of proposals by Newcastle City Council to replace the existing incinerator at Byker with an new plant with a capacity to burn 80,000 tonnes of waste and 15,000 tonnes of shredded rubber tyres a year. The old plant had a history of concerns including noise, smell and atmospheric emissions including soot, 'black snow' (partly burnt matter and large quantities of ash) and a range of harmful gases.
4. The plant consisted of a Reclamation Plant, owned at the time by Newcastle Council, which received rubbish from across Newcastle. The plant used a number of mechanical methods to remove steel and aluminium, and produce pellets of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) for combustion. The RDF fuel was delivered, free of charge, to the incinerator a few yards away, owned at the time by Combined Heat and Power. The resulting energy from the incinerator was used to produce electricity for sale to the national grid and hot water, sold back to the Council, which was used in a District Heating Scheme for the Byker estate.
5. A campaign, CAIR (Campaign Against Incinerated Refuse) was established which organised several public meetings in the area with attendances of over 100 people. Newcastle Council agreed to hold a public meeting on January 19, 2000 to discuss these concerns, This meeting, attended by 200 people, raised many concerns about the existing plant and the proposed new one. Some of the concerns included the emissions of health-damaging chemicals from the old and proposed new plant; the cost of heating for the residents of Byker; and the noise and smells from the old and proposed new plant. The meeting overwhelmingly called for a public inquiry into the proposed new incinerator. The Council proposed to establish a Working Group made up of residents, council officers, councillors and other involved agencies, to investigate these concerns.
6. The first meeting of the Working Group, initially called the Byker Plant Working Group, took place in March, 2000. After a number of discussions, the Working Group agreed that the best way to investigate the issues that arose from the public meeting was to conduct a series of hearings in the form of a Select Committee. This was to be modelled on the House of Commons' Select Committees, although always with the understanding that our hearings would be community led and clearly would have fewer support staff than the House of Commons enjoys.
7. The hearings would allow a range of experts to give evidence and be cross-examined on a wide-range of issues relating to waste management. A Citizen's Jury was considered but the Select Committee approach was preferred as we were looking at a host of complex issues and the Jury model of a simple 'yes' or 'no' was not suitable to such choices. From the beginning the aim was much wider than a simple verdict of for or against a new incinerator.
8. To carry out the Select Committee and investigate related matters dealing with Newcastle's long-term waste strategy a number of sub-groups were established.
  • Alternative Waste Strategies (Chair: Sylvia Conway): researched and produced information on the many ways of handling waste.
  • Health and Environmental Impact Assessment (Chair: Helen Kelly): researched and produced a procedure and broad guidelines for a Health and Environmental Impact Assessment on waste strategies.
  • Procedures for BAN Waste & Select Committee (Chair: Ralph Barton): produced the procedures for the conduct of BAN Waste and the Select Committee
  • Information (Chair: Nick Fray): produced a policy for the presentation and publication of the work of BAN Waste and the Select Committee to the people of Newcastle and the City Council.
These put in a great deal of work with many meetings, intensive discussion and wide consultation. All produced reports which were discussed by the full meetings of the Working Group and, after amendment, were all agreed.
9. Initially BAN Waste was Chaired by Bob Stewart, of Newcastle Healthy City Project. In July Jenni Madison, a Byker resident was elected Chair. A Project Worker, Frances Hinton, was appointed by BAN Waste in July 2000. This was initially part-time but became full-time in January 2001.
10. As well as preparing the procedures and issues for the Select Committee, BAN Waste had to organise the resources for the Select Committee to take place. This also took a great deal of effort. Because the Select Committee hearings had to deal thoroughly with a wide range of witnesses and the Council wanted to agree a new strategy in the near future it was agreed to have a series of day-time hearings. To have held the hearings on an evening would have taken many weeks. But to hold day-time hearings meant that the members had to be compensated for loss of earnings or other expenses. As well as the Select Committee members' expenses there were likely to be large costs for witnesses' travel and expenses, as well as all the support needed. An agreement was reached with Newcastle Council that it would provide some support in kind to cover meeting rooms, printing, use of equipment etc, but that BAN Waste should raise funds for members' and witnesses' expenses and other costs.
11. BAN Waste applied to many funding bodies, and although most thought what we were trying to do was innovative and worthwhile, there were always difficulties with timetables and fitting our proposals into the categories of funding organisations, both government and charities. Eventually BAN Waste had discussions with Funder X, an international charitable Trust which supports issues of rights and justice. Following submission of a proposal and negotiations, in June 2001 Ban Waste was offered �85,000 to carry out the Select Committee by Funder X and �16,000 by The Millfield House Foundation, a local charitable Trust.
12. To ensure the Select Committee took place a specific sub-group (Chair: Andrew Gray) was established in June. Over the summer there was hectic activity to make the Select Committee happen. We had to find a high-profile Chairperson, organise witnesses, negotiate with Newcastle Council and sort out all the practical details. The Select Committee needed a Chair with authority and experience. In mid-August Andrew Bennett, MP and Chair of the House of Commons Environment Select Committee, agreed to Chair BAN Waste's Select Committee. Although some witnesses had been approached in general, with many responding with expressions of interest, it was now necessary to fix specific dates and subject matter for the witnesses. This required many messages by letter, e-mail, fax and phone.

BAN Waste and Newcastle Council

13. Newcastle Council had stated early on that BAN Waste was a partnership with the Council and that it would take notice of the Reports. However, at times relations were strained as the Council is inexperienced in working with communities on major decisions and saw its main priority as signing a new waste contracts as quickly as possible to ensure financial stability and reduce the costs of sending the waste stream to landfill. A key issue of concern for BAN Waste was the Assessment of the Environmental, Health and Employment Impacts of any waste strategy. The Council had agreed that they would carry out and pay for such assessments. BAN Waste had drawn up procedures for the Health and Environmental Impact Assessments, based on best practice, which the Council had stated they generally accepted. However they had stated that they intended to carry out the Health and Environmental Impact Assessments on the proposed incineration strategy rather than assess a number of alternative strategies. The Council's proposed timetable for the Health and Environmental Impact Assessments and the signing of waste contracts all imposed difficulties on having a full discussion and proper consideration of options. BAN Waste emphasised that best practice for Health and Environmental Impact Assessments requires comparison between alternatives and one of the aims of the Select Committee was to produce a number of alternative waste strategies.
14. After BAN Waste had gained the funding for the Select Committee, a frank meeting took place between representatives of BAN Waste and Newcastle Council. At this meeting it was agreed that the Health and Environmental Impact Assessments would include the options produced by the Select Committee, that the Council would give full consideration to the Select Committee's Reports and that the waste contracts already signed, and likely to be signed, by the Council were flexible enough to allow for better alternatives to be adopted. Also, a range of other matters was clarified to ensure better communications and co-operation than had sometimes previously been the case.

Public Involvement

15. There is a growing interest about public involvement in decision-making and strengthening democracy. These issues have been widely discussed and buzzwords such as 'participation' 'community' 'partnership' and 'consultation' are commonplace in almost all local and national government documents. BAN Waste has constantly worked to be open and democratic in its work, to engage the wider public in its work and to publicise the issues about waste. The decisions of BAN Waste have been taken by full meetings, open to the public. BAN Waste has always welcomed new members to join and to be actively involved in all its work and decisions. Most of the work - writing letters, articles and reports, attending meetings and festivals to publicise BAN Waste's work, research, etc - has been carried out by the members of BAN Waste. The work of our paid staff has been enormous and crucial to our success, but the driving force of BAN Waste has always been the determination and commitment of its members. The achievements, the work of the sub-groups, producing the reports, establishing the Select Committee and encouraging a wider debate on waste across the city are a testimony to the efforts of BAN Waste members.
16. Too often there is a perception that in local government the major decisions are taken by a few senior councillors and officers, perhaps with the involvement of some business leaders. Most of the public feels they are excluded from the corridors where the decisions are taken. The Select Committee process may offer a way to improve local democracy and decision-making by involving the public, stimulating a well-informed and wide-ranging debate and producing better final decisions that enjoy greater public support. Alongside the Select Committee itself, an assessment of the process and its relevance to local democracy is being carried out, which will result in a substantial Evaluation Report.

The Select Committee

17. The Select Committee is an integral part of BAN Waste's efforts to inform a public debate and raise awareness on waste and propose a sustainable waste strategy for Newcastle.
18. The Select Committee will sit for two phases. This is the report of the first phase. Following the publication of this report there will be a Health Impact Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and an assessment of the employment and other economic impacts. The Health Impact Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment will be paid for by Newcastle Council based on the procedures and guidelines drawn up by BAN Waste. The employment and economic assessment will be carried out by Newcastle Council with additional help funded from BAN Waste.
19. At the same time BAN Waste will organise a number of Community Events in different areas across the city. They will use innovative means to engage the public with the aim both to inform the public about issues to do with waste and to listen to and record the views of the public. BAN Waste has gained modest funding for these events of �4,950 from the New Opportunities Fund and �1,750 from some of the Ward committees in Newcastle.
20. Later in 2002 the Select Committee will sit again (Phase 2) to hear the reports of the assessment, the results of the community events and to draw conclusions. The result will be a Final Report which will recommend a sustainable waste strategy for the city of Newcastle, with an explanation of the reasons why.

Thanks

21. As well as thanks to the members of Ban Waste (listed), witnesses (listed) and the public the Select Committee would like to thank:
22. Newcastle City Council who provided facilities and support in kind to allow the Select Committee to take place; released two officers to be members of the Committee; agreed to co-operate with the Select Committee in carrying out assessment of the Health, Environmental and Employment impacts of alternative waste strategies; and to support the public debate on developing a sustainable waste strategy for the city.
23. BAN Waste has been fortunate to have paid staff to greatly assist the work. BAN Waste's Project Worker, Frances Hinton, has worked far beyond her terms of employment in support of BAN Waste and to ensure that the Select Committee took place. Stephen Laws helped to arrange the Select Committee, and he and George Jackson took the minutes.
24. Bob Stewart and Newcastle Healthy City Project for hosting BAN Waste. Wendy Ranade, of Healthy Cities, has given of her experience at several key points to assist in this innovative way to improve public involvement in decision-making.

Funding

25. Select Committee
  • Funder X: �85,000 for expenses for witnesses and Select Committee members, writing of reports, support for assessment of employment impact of options, and evaluation of the Select Committee process
  • Millfield House: �16,000 for administration
  • Newcastle Council: ~�52,000 in kind including use of rooms, provision of facilities, support staff for Select Committee, printing, distribution and publicity of Interim and Final Report
26. Health and Environment Impact Assessments
  • Council to pay
27. Publicity
  • Millfield House: �1,500
28. Community Events
  • New Opportunities Fund: �4,950
  • Ward Committees: Total �1,750 (Byker �750, Elswick, �250, Grange �250, Heaton �250 and Sandyford �250)

BAN Waste Members

Kevin Alderson
George Allison
Suzannne Allott
Daphne Anderson
David Bailey
Bronwen Banner
Steven Barnes
Ralph Barton
Val Barton
Ranjana Bell
Gloria Birkett
Millie Blenkinsop
Cal Boal
Nick Boldrini
Jo Bourne
Patrick Boyle
Janet Brewis
Carl Brewis
Jo Brosman
John Buckham
John Burns
T Cain
Phil Capon
P.M. Carr
Marilyn Charlton
T. Charnley
Neil Clarke
Denise Clennell
Jaimie Cohen
Bill Colwell
Sylvia Conway
Paul Court
Andrew Cox
Michael Crilly
Liz Crocker
E Cronin
Ben Crozier
Colin Dilks
Ann English
Rob Errington
Nicholas Fray
Jacqui Gilchrist
Shenandoah Gills
Genevene Goodwin
Andrew Gray
Daniel Grierson
Kathleen Haldane
Andrew Harrison
Chris Hayday
Oliver Heidrich
Pete Henderson
Gearoid Henry
B Hill
V. Hill
Bill Hopwood
Elizabeth Immler
Tom Jarman
Isabella Johnson
J Johnson
Pam Jose
Michael Kelly
Helen Kelly
D.W. Kidd
J Kingsland
A Kirsopp
Heather Lamb
Eric Landau
Jenny Lassalle
Karen Laws
Inga Lilly
Amanda Lipman
Jenni Madison
Steve Manchee
Sheila Manley
Lynne Marsh
James Marshall
Mick Marston
Anthony McKenna
A Mennel
Jesus A. Miguel-Garcia
George Miller
Chris Mills
Sue Milner
Paul Mobbs
Julia Moeller
Jeanie Molineux
Isabel Moloney
David Mumford
Jo Mundy
Graham Newby
Chris Packham
Andy Parkinson
Michelle Pike
Carole Price
Jean Pringle
Stephen Psallidas
Mike Rabley
Elizabeth Randell
Rachel Richman
Peter Robinson
Barry Rowland
Steven Savage
Dave Shepherdson
Carolyn Spencer
Bob Stewart
Geoff Stokle
Audrey Sutherland
Fiona Swindell
Paul Thomson
Lidia Tindle
Doris Tomlinson
W. J. Tynan
Clare Wain
M. Walker
J.A. Walker
David Walker
Christine Watson
Arlene Weatherly
June Wolf
Dave Woods
Linda Wright

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Appendix 2: Select Committee Witnesses

Day 1, September 20, 2001

Day 2, September 29, 2001

  • Eddie Wrigley: Government Office North East, Sustainability & Environment Team
  • Dennis Martin: Co-op
  • Gearoid Henry: Newcastle City Council, Recycling Officer and 'Greening the Supply Chain' Coordinator
  • Liz Morrish: Environ, Waste and Recycling Manager
  • Day 3, October 4, 2001

  • David Malone: Children's Warehouse, Newcastle, Director
  • Garry King: RENEW North East Ltd., Gateshead
  • Ron England: Glass Recycling UK
  • John Redmayne: CREATE, Liverpool
  • David Shipley & Mac Leadbitter, Community Transport, Newcastle
  • Day 4, October 8, 2001

  • Chris Whaley & Chris Reynall: Safe-Waste Systems, Northumberland
  • Steve Tinling: Newcastle City Council, Home Composting Scheme
  • Matthew Pumfrey: OrrTec (Organic and Resource Recovery Technology) and Zero Waste International
  • Day 5, October 11, 2001

  • Pam Jose: North East Recycling Ltd.
  • Andy Moore: Avon Friends of the Earth
  • Richard Boden: Wyecycle, Kent
  • Keith Collins: Ecologika
  • Day 6, October 15, 2001

  • Dan Grierson: Amec
  • Robin Murray: Ecologika
  • Richard Crouch: Environment Agency, North East Waste Strategy Manager
  • Day 7, October 22, 2001

  • Paul Taylor: SITA, North East Director
  • Paul Dumpleton: SITA, UK Recycling Manager
  • Stephen Wise: SITA, Composting Manager
  • John Thistlewood: SITA, Environment and Capital Projects Manager (EfW)
  • Joanna McGee: SITA, Recycling Officer
  • Robin Crews: SITA, Public Relations
  • Michael Robson: Abbey Well, Morpeth
  • Day 8, October 29, 2001

  • Bishop Ambrose Griffiths: Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
  • Chris Mills: Newcastle City Council, Community and Housing Directorate, Capital Investment Manager
  • Gordon Halliday: North East Region Technical Advisory Board on Waste, Chair & Northumberland County Council, Assistant Director of Environment
  • Chris Underwood: University of Northumbria
  • William Prescott: Energy from Waste Association
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    Appendix 3: Membership of Select Committee

    Chair, Andrew Bennett, MP

    Val BartonByker Resident, St Peter's Residents Association, East End Allotment Rep
    Cal BoalGosforth Resident, Gingerbread Trust
    Jo BourneWest End Resident
    John BuckhamNewcastle Cityworks, Head of Energy & Waste Management
    Phil CaponNewcastle Local Authority UNISON
    Bill ColwellEast End Resident, Newcastle Council for the Protection of Rural England,
    Sylvia ConwayNewcastle Resident, Newcastle Women's Institute,
    Nick FrayEast End Resident
    Will HaughanNewcastle Cityworks, General Manager
    Bill HopwoodByker Resident
    Eric LandauKenton Resident
    Jenni MadisonByker Resident
    Roger MouldNewcastle Council for Voluntary Services
    Mike RableyEast End Resident
    Carolyn SpencerSt Peter's Basin Resident
    Bob StewartNewcastle Healthy City Project, Chief Executive
    Geoff StokleEast End Resident
    June WolfNewcastle Resident, Allotment gardener

    The core membership of the Select Committee is members of BAN Waste, which itself is a partnership of different interests. However, recognising that it took a great deal of time and a high level of commitment to attend the many BAN Waste meetings, BAN Waste decided to seek an outside chair and to invite a number of citywide organisations to nominate one of their members to join the Select Committee.

    We approached:

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    Glossary