A Wealth of Waste: BAN Waste report, January 2003

[links to other reports from BAN Waste]

Table of contents

Foreword

I very much welcome the initiative to create the Special Select Committee Report on waste policy in Newcastle. I congratulate Newcastle upon Tyne City council on working with the Select Committee and sponsoring it. This is a real partnership in policy making. The real test will be in implementations.

I remain concerned about the problems of toxic ash disposal from the Byker Reclamation Plant. This was one of the largest toxic ash releases of present times. I will continue to press for long term monitoring of the sites, and the human beings that could be involved.

I am also delighted that this report comes out at a time when Parliament is, hopefully, approving new legislation for waste recycling and sustainable energy policy.

The Government has in recent times published two new policy statements on the changing climate for energy, and the Energy White Paper, both in February. The renewed commitments of the Prime Minister to energy consumption reduction targets created a so-called Green Monday. I would like all our days to be green. I am shocked by the energy and expense I consume on numerous long distance journeys as part of my Parliamentary work. It is a real signal that we should live in a world where people move less, and ides move more. The "false growth syndrome" that means we create waste by our way of life far faster than we recycle it, is a challenge for all of us.

Jim Cousins MP Newcastle Central

Thanks

BAN Waste thanks Atlantic Philanthropies who have kindly funded the Select Committee. We also are grateful to Millfield House whose funding has supported the work of BAN Waste.

We are grateful to the chairs of the four Select Committee hearings David Malone, Bob Stewart, Jim Cousins MP and Richard Adams.

We appreciate the time and effort that all the witnesses put in preparing and giving their presentations.

BAN Waste appreciates the support of Newcastle Council in providing the venue and support for the Select Committee hearings.

Thanks are due to the members of BAN Waste who although not members of the Select Committee have been vital in making it happen and the many members of the public who have supported us over the last 3 years.

Finally we would like to thank Cal Boal, the BAN Waste's support worker who made the Select Committee hearings happen and Jo Bourne, support workers, who has helped with much of BAN Waste's work.

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Chapter 1

Introduction: BAN Waste and Select Committee

BAN Waste (Byker and Newcastle Waste) grew from the concerns of residents of Byker and Newcastle about Newcastle City Council's proposal to replace the existing incinerator at Byker with a new plant. BAN Waste was established in January 2000, following a meeting of 200 people to discuss 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 working group is BAN Waste.

The issue of a possible new incinerator is linked to the entire waste strategy of Newcastle and has implications across the city. BAN Waste is a city wide organisation with nearly 200 members representing 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.

The plan for an incinerator is part of a 20-25 year strategy for Newcastle's waste. This long-term strategy requires an approach that can deal with future change, including European and British legislation. BAN Waste has stressed the need to deal with likely future development and some of these are outlined in this report. It would be foolish to decide policy only with an eye to the short term and risk Newcastle being tied to policies and investment that in a few years become a barrier to achieving targets or responding to public opinion. Even worse, the city might end up with a strategy that depends on expensive plant and equipment that is made obsolete by new legislation in a few years.

In our first report we urged the adoption of a strategy that provides a vision for the future and meets the needs of tomorrow as well as today. Too often decisions on waste are dominated by an attitude of getting by and settling for the ordinary. BAN Waste proposed that the vision of a sustainable waste strategy is linked to the bid for Capital of Culture 2008. The bid for Capital of Culture states that

"We will involve everyone across the community. We will work with the best in the world to achieve absolute quality. At the edge of imagination, perhaps. But within our capability, certainly. As a people we have always combined passion with practicality. We don't just dream, we deliver. History has shown it. And so will the future."
(Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, 2002)

This same sort of vision should be applied to how we handle our waste. Rather than go for a run-of-the-mill waste strategy, Newcastle should seize the opportunity to be a leader in Britain, and even the world, in resource management with all the benefits for employment, health, environment and the city's reputation.

BAN Waste chose a Select Committee made up of city residents, council officers and representatives of trade union and community and voluntary groups to examine many issues to do with waste and its treatment. BAN Waste adopted as a model for its Select Committee those held at the House of Commons where a wide range of witnesses are invited to present evidence and respond to questions. This approach was considered as the most effective means of gathering information to enable the production of a well-researched waste strategy for Newcastle.

The BAN Waste Select Committee has now held two sessions. The first session, of eight hearings in the autumn of 2001, looked at the broad issues of waste and resulted in the report Our World, Our Waste, Our Choice, in January 2002. This examined where waste comes from, the different materials that are classed as waste and how waste can be handled. The report concluded by outlining some of the choices involved in waste strategies, made a number of recommendations and outlined the principles of a sustainable waste strategy.

Following the production of Our World, Our Waste, Our Choice, in early 2002 BAN Waste held seven Community Events, across Newcastle. The aim of the events was to both inform and listen to residents of Newcastle about the choices and issues of handling waste. These were highly successful with nearly 400 adults and over 200 children attending. They used a variety of means to engage the public, including art, displays, participatory appraisal and questionnaires. BAN Waste found a great deal of interest and concern on waste and related issues, and members were able to listen to and record many people's views. A Report, BAN Waste Community Events, was produced in the autumn of 2002.

BAN Waste had originally intended to have a final set of six hearings with the aim of turning the principles outlined in the first report, Our World, Our Waste, Our Choice, into a strategy for Newcastle. This would have involved, among other issues, considering the practicalities of such a system and its impacts on health, the environment and employment. An important part of this examination is the Health and Environmental Impact Assessment that Newcastle Council has commissioned, which is examining the impacts of alternative technologies and strategies. This is being conducted at present and is likely to be completed by the spring of 2003. In view of the long gap between the first report and the likely production of a second report after consideration of the Health and Environmental Impact Assessment, BAN Waste decided to hold the first four hearings in the autumn of 2002. These hearings examined the issues of employment, costs and future trends, as well as a number of other issues.

This report concentrates on the strategy that BAN Waste believes will best meet the needs of Newcastle for the long term, in particular those areas where there are differences with the strategy presently proposed by the Council. It is based on concerns about the environment, health and employment as well as giving consideration to government and European targets and international best practice. The report draws on the evidence presented to the Select Committee and a wide range of reports that witnesses drew our attention to.

After the publication of the Health and Environmental Impact Assessment, BAN Waste will hold a further two sittings to consider this report. Following these, a Final Report will be produced that summarises all of our findings, recommends a waste strategy for Newcastle and outlines why it is the best way forward.

As well as looking at the specific issues of a long-term waste strategy for the City of Newcastle, BAN Waste is also part of growing national and international concern about why society produces so much waste and the ways it is used or misused. In Britain there is growing debate about the need for this country to catch up with the best of the world in treating waste as a resource to be re-used, composted and recycled instead of being burnt or thrown into the ground.

Alongside the debates about waste, the experience of BAN Waste and the Select Committee is very relevant to issues about public involvement in decision-making and the nature of democracy in our society. BAN Waste is an organisation led by members of the public who have become, over the last few years, experts in the issues of waste. It is an excellent example of active citizens who genuinely care about the future of their city. They could provide a powerful ally and support for a local authority that wanted to involve its citizens and adopt a sustainable way of dealing with waste.

We believe that the approach of BAN Waste and the Select Committee offers a way to improve community involvement in deciding policy and 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.

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Chapter 2

Reasons to Change

Part 1: Resources, Health, Environment and Employment

Newcastle cannot continue to handle waste as it has done in the past. The British Government and European Union insist that things must change. But the reasons for change are much stronger than simply the new legislation. It is morally indefensible to throw away valuable resources, which may deprive our children and grandchildren of needed materials, and in the process leave them with pollution and environmental damage. Public and scientific opinion is increasingly demanding a change of course.

Waste is very much a product of modern western society. Throughout the natural world the waste from one plant or animal is another's food. Materials are used and re-used over and over again in a continuous cycle of resources. In earlier human societies there was little waste with materials being constantly reused and recycled. The modern world has changed all this. Now we extract raw materials from the ground and harvest plants, use them and then throw them or their products away or destroy them in incinerators. Instead of the natural circle, our society has a one-way flow from usable resources to useless waste. Not only is this an enormous waste of energy and materials, it also produces pollution which harms humans and other forms of life.


Two Ways of Handling Resources

Britain, in total, consumes around 60 million tonnes of goods a year, about one tonne per person. However to produce these goods the country consumes in total 660 million tonnes of materials (excluding water). This is 10 tonnes of waste for every tonne of goods produced. And most of the goods, in turn, end up as waste (Biffa, 2002).

The materials that are presently thrown away as waste have a potential value and using these resources could help the economy of the region and provide jobs. The materials that society describes as waste are mainly paper and card, glass, steel and aluminium, plastics and organic matter. All of these can be used again and in many parts of the world this is what happens. There are powerful health, environmental and economic arguments behind the drive by Europe and the British government for change.

"Our historic reliance on a linear flow of raw materials into products, consumption and waste has to change. We are now, in the early days of the 21st century moving into the world of resource efficiency."
(Biffa, 2002)

The BAN Waste Report (2002) Our World, Our Waste, Our Choice, outlined in more detail the reasons for change. This section summarises and updates those reasons.

British Government

In response to growing concerns about the levels of waste, the government produced a new waste policy outlined in the White Paper Waste Strategy 2000 (DETR, 2000). The primary aims are to reduce waste by

This represents a fundamental shift from the existing pattern in Britain of discarding waste, mainly into landfill sites. The government is urging a step change, to a policy that treats waste as a resource to be used for the benefit of society. This shift is based on increased re-use and recycling. Key to the success of this approach is the production of clean materials. This cannot be achieved by collecting all household waste together in one bin and then, at a later stage, trying to separate it again, this is like trying to unscramble an egg. Once the materials are put into a single bin, it is inevitable that paper has food remains on it; plastics, glass and heavy metals are mixed with the organic matter and the different colours of glass are combined. This makes the materials virtually worthless. The best way to collect clean materials is to collect them separately either by doorstep collection or separate containers at bring schemes or Civic Amenity sites.

The British Government has set targets for recycling of household waste. Although Newcastle's short-term targets are below the national targets, because Newcastleis so far behind, achieving them will still require the Council to significantly change its ways of dealing with waste.

Year

National

Newcastle Best Value

2003/2004

10%

2005

25%

2005/06

18%

2010

30%

2015

33%

Targets for Recycling Household Waste

As well as the target on recycling there are also targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste - paper, card, kitchen scraps, garden cuttings, etc. - that goes to landfill. By 2010 only 75% of the biodegradable waste that went to landfill in 1995 will be allowed to be landfilled and this is to be reduced to only 35% of the 1995 amount by 2020.

To support this shift in strategy the government introduced a tax on landfill, which is now £13 a tonne. Both Robin Murray (2002) and Peter Jones (2002) indicated in their evidence that this was likely to rise sharply. The Chancellor's autumn financial statement confirmed these predictions, with the announcement that the government plans to increase this tax by £3 per year from 2005 with the aim of raising it to £35 a tonne (Treasury, 2002). Jones suggested further changes, so that rather than just a tax on landfill, there is a graduated tax on various ways of handling waste in line with their harm to the environment.

"We believe that you should have a waste disposal tax so you might charge landfill at £50 per tonne; big mass burn incinerators, £40 per tonne; … composting £20 a tonne; recycling £10 per tonne and it would be free if you minimise."
(Jones, 2002)

A tax on incineration is supported by the Strategy Unit (2002), Environment Agency (Environment Agency, 2001; Burns, 2002) and many other bodies including the Environment Select Committee of MPs (House of Commons, 2001).

As well as the targets, the government has outlined some broad principles on handling waste. The government states that the aim should be to treat waste at the highest levels of the Waste Hierarchy and that materials should be handled locally rather than exporting waste to other regions.


Waste Hierarchy: Preferred Policy to Move Treatment Towards the Top

Recently the Strategy Unit carried out a review of the present waste policy and its report Waste not, Want not (2002) makes a number of recommendations. Although these are for consultation, they do indicate the direction in which government policy is moving. There are recommendations for government and industry, as well as important ones for Local Authorities.

The report states:

(Strategy Unit, 2002)

European Union Policy

Much of the British Government's policy is being driven by legislation and directives from Europe as well as public opinion.

"Now the driver is Europe." (Khan, 2002)

It is the European Landfill Directive that has required the British government to establish the targets for reducing the amount of biodegradable material going to landfill. The directive also requires that "all the waste will have to be treated" before going to landfill to reduce the release of pollutants (Khan, 2002).

This Directive will require hazardous waste - including the fly ash from any incinerator - to go to special landfill sites. These will be expensive to operate and there are likely to be only a few in the country. Both the transport and use costs for landfilling hazardous waste are likely to rise sharply (Khan, 2002).


Comparison of Waste Treatment (Green Alliance, 2002)

This directive is backed up with the possibility of fines and if Britain does not deliver it might face a fine of up to £180 million a year (Strategy Unit, 2002) or "millions of pounds a day" (Khan, 2002). Already the EU has been critical of Britain's slowness to act and failure to comply with European Union (EU) directives on waste (Khan, 2002). If the EU fined the British Government, it in turn would most likely seek to recoup this money from those councils that fail to deliver on the targets. Britain at present lags far behind most of the rest of European countries, and Newcastle, at below 4% recycling, lags behind the average of English cities.

In addition the EU has introduced directives for specific waste streams such as banning rubber tyres from landfill whether whole or shredded by 2006; the directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), covering computers, hi-fi, household appliances, lighting, power tools, electric toys and much more, requires the manufacturers to take responsibility for the disposal of these goods; and by 2006, 80% by weight of motor vehicles should be recycled. The WEEE will require local authorities to have a role in the separate collection of electrical waste by 2006 (Khan, 2002). The directive on hazardous waste is also likely to affect household waste collection. Most household waste is not hazardous but paints, oil, pesticides, some treated timber, consumer batteries and some lightbulbs are classed as hazardous waste and at some time in the future there may be a requirement to collect separately (Khan, 2002).

Peter Jones (2002) stressed that the composition of waste will change in the future as responsibility for

"big chunks of materials in waste stream will pass to the manufacturers, such as tyres, packaging, junk mail, electrics".

This means that local authorities should avoid taking long term, inflexible legal and financial commitments,

"Can't make long-term investment decisions when responsibility will go to other people".

Also the handling of waste is wider than municipal waste, increasingly the different sources such as from business, agriculture and sewage, will move towards integrated and combined treatments.

"So don't think about this in a little box as there will be a lot of dynamic in the rest of the world. [There is] not just municipal waste in the bubble."

The European Union is drawing up a directive (European Commission, 2001) that will require organic waste to be properly treated to produce good quality compost for improving soil. Crucial to the production of compost that is safe for use in farming and on gardens is that it is not contaminated with plastics, heavy metals, organic toxins or pathogens. To prevent the presence of plastics, heavy metals and organic toxins, the original materials to be composted must be collected separately. A good compost system, such as in-vessel, will reach a high enough temperature to kill pathogens. The EU is proposing that cities of over 100,000 people should introduce a separate collection of food and garden waste from households and businesses within three years.

Landfill

The vast majority of municipal waste in Britain, 79%, goes to landfill. Although the running of landfill sites has improved in recent years they still have many problems. Not only are valuable resources thrown away and wasted, but landfill damages the environment and produces harmful chemicals. In addition there is evidence of ill-health around landfill sites (Elliott, et al, 2001; Vrijheid, et al., 2002). Most landfill sites take a mix of waste including organic matter, food waste, metals and hazardous household chemicals such as paints, solvents and insecticides.

"The contents of a yoghurt container may last a few weeks but the container itself lasts for 1,000 years."
(Friesen, 2002)

The materials in the landfill take tens even hundreds of years to rot completely and in the process they react and produce leachate, methane gas and cancer causing gases. Leachate is water contaminated with a cocktail of chemicals including heavy metals and organic poisons, which are harmful to health.

Modern landfill sites have liners to prevent the escape of leachate, however, most liners are only guaranteed for 20-40 years while the reactions inside the landfill site may continue for hundreds of years. Dalton (2002) gave the example of a modern so-called 'state-of-the-art' landfill site near Wakefield

"which suffered constant problems, residents were regularly complaining - there were pests, noise, smells … the liner is only guaranteed for 25 years."

The liability for pollution from landfill sites can last for over 100 years and this is likely to add to the future costs (Khan, 2002).

Methane gas can cause explosions and is an important contributor to global warming - it is over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Landfill sites account for 25% of all the UK's methane releases. This contributes as much to global warming as 12% of all road transport. While modern landfill sites do collect some of the methane gas, which will reduce the amount released into the atmosphere, it does not stop the production of methane and the very extraction of the gas can cause further problems. Both landfill liners and extraction of methane gas are very unlikely to last as long as the landfill site so they will only give protection for part of the time the site is reactive, producing leachate and methane.

A major and growing area of environmental concern is the release of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. According the United State's Environment Protection Agency (1998) recycling is better than landfill or incineration for reducing the release of greenhouse gases.

Biffa (2002) make a telling point

"The old political adage 'when you're in a hole, stop digging' is particularly true of environmental policy. Even when the hole is fully engineered, licensed, monitored and regulated, it is still time to stop 'digging' landfills."

The best way to sharply reduce the harm of landfill sites is to ensure that what goes into them is both safe and not reactive. This means excluding heavy metals, dangerous chemicals and biowaste. Landfill may have a role in waste treatment but only after all the potentially harmful and useful materials are removed.

Compost

The EU proposals on compost will have a profound impact on the way waste is treated in Britain. Across Europe, intensive agriculture has damaged the quality of soil, which is vital both for food production and natural vegetation.

"Soil is a vital resource increasingly under pressure. For sustainable development it must be protected"
(European Commission, 2002)

The organic content of soil, the humus, has dropped sharply across Europe. Soil quality in England and Wales is also declining, with an increase in the portion with low organic content from 32% to 41% in 15 years (DETR, 1999). The lack of humus means soil holds less water, has a lower fertility, is more likely to be eroded and the risk of flooding is increased.

"European Union directives are aimed at getting carbon back into the soil."
(Jones, 2002)

"Soils are suffering a loss of organic matter and nutrients … we will need to compost, rather than burn or landfill, organic matter from kitchens and gardens. This will need separate collection."
(Whitney, 2002)

As they grow, plants remove humus from the soil. In natural conditions this is replaced as the plant dies and rots down. However, if the plants are removed as crops, this humus content continues to decline. In the past, the humus content of agricultural land would be replenished as organic material such as compost and waste was returned to the soil. Now, most organic matter is not returned to the soil; it becomes food waste or sewage and finally is largely buried in landfills or burnt in incinerators. If organic matter is placed in landfill it contributes to chemical reactions with dangerous products. On the other hand composting organic waste is simple, avoids the problems of putting it in landfill and has significant benefits.

"Most of the problems with waste management, particularly landfill, is from the biodegradable waste. It is biodegradable waste that produces leachate, methane and odour and this is the waste that can be composted. Nature is so good, composting is simple."
(Khan, 2002)

"It is an inescapable fact that any waste management strategy should put organic waste fraction at its heart; … its presence in mixed waste contaminates the dry recyclables … A major influence in the development of effective new composting schemes has been the EU landfill directive … successful diversion of biodegradable waste depends on separation at source This has been reinforced by the EU soils directive … Separate collection is critical for the efficient collection of clean feedstock, resulting in a high quality end product … End markets exist; sales of compost or soil conditioner fund the scheme."
(Biffa, 2002)

Composting in Britain was thrown into turmoil when concerns about BSE and Foot & Mouth disease resulted in the Environment Agency issuing guidance that animal waste should not be included in compost (Animal By-Products Order). Since then DEFRA has carried out a risk Assessment (DEFRA, 2002a) on the composting of kitchen and catering waste which concludes it is safe as long as certain safeguards are observed. In addition, an EU regulation on animal by-products is leading to legislation, likely to be agreed early in 2003. Composting is back on track (Burns, 2002).

Incineration

Incineration, linked to the production of electricity and heating, has been widely encouraged by the waste industry as the alternative to landfill. Currently it is used to treat over 9% of household waste (DEFRA, 2000b). However, although some energy is recovered from the waste, incineration remains an approach based on discarding useful material resources rather than reusing them. It destroys almost all the resources as useful materials including paper, textiles, organic matter and plastics. Only the steel and aluminium can be recycled after being passed through an incinerator, but with a lower market value. The energy efficiency is low as the 'fuel' has a high level of water, some of it does not burn, and a lot of the energy is absorbed in the filters and other operating processes (Jones, 2002; Biffa, 2002).

Incineration does not destroy the basic chemicals - it changes them, but in almost all cases it changes them to less useful forms and in some cases harmful forms. The solid volume is reduced to ash which is around 30% of the original weight. The rest is released as gases.

The products of incineration which are damaging to the environment and health include reactive heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, the acid Hydrogen chloride, dioxins, nitrous oxides, particulates as well as carbon dioxide. Some of these gases are extremely harmful to health, do not break down and therefore build up in the body over decades. They also accumulate in the food chain and are passed to humans in food such as milk and its products, meat and fish. Dioxins have been described as

"one of the two or three most toxic chemicals ever discovered"
(Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly, 1990)

and are particularly harmful to children. Dioxins, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals can cause cancer, damage the reproductive and immune systems, disrupt hormones, damage the development of the brain and affect the development of the foetus in the womb.

The Environment Protection Agency (2000) in the United States stated that

"dioxins are potent animal toxicants with potential to produce a broad spectrum of adverse effects in humans. Dioxins can alter the fundamental growth and development of cells in ways that have the potential to lead to many kinds of impacts. These include, for example, adverse effects upon reproduction and development; suppression of the immune system; chloracne (a severe acne-like condition that sometimes persists for many years); and cancer."

The World Health Organisation (1999) state that

"Dioxins are environmental "repeat offenders". They have the dubious distinction of belonging to "dirty dozen club" - a special group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants. Once dioxins have entered the environment or body, they are there to stay due to their uncanny ability to dissolve in fats and to their rock-solid chemical stability. Their half-life in the body is, on average, seven years. In the environment, dioxins tend to bio-accumulate in the food chain. The higher in the food chain one goes, the higher is the concentration of dioxins."

The introduction of new safety guidelines has resulted in a significant fall in the level of dioxins released from incinerator chimneys over the last 10 years. This means more is captured in the filters. However, as dioxins do not readily breakdown and accumulate in animal fats they remain a serious problem. The vast majority of the human intake of dioxins is from food, but the dioxins in the food come from various sources including incineration. It has been well known that even tiny amounts of dioxins and PCBs affect the development of children. Recent research has shown that even at levels common in human beings, the intake of dioxins in the womb have an impact on future development (Vreugdenhil, et al, 2002).

The dangerous chemicals produced by incinerators either escape to the air or are captured by filters, to produce a substance called 'fly ash', which then has to be disposed of in landfill. Incinerators rely on complex, and expensive, controls and filters to limit the release of dangerous chemicals. However, these can and do go wrong.

The failure of human controls that led to 2,000 tonnes of ash, containing toxic fly ash, from the Byker incinerator being spread on allotments in Newcastle, resulting in

"massive contamination with dioxins"
(Pless-Mulloli & Edwards, 2000

is well known. The operation of the incinerator also had constant problems including releases of 'black snow' (large quantities of ash and soot), constant odour problems and possible releases of dioxins and heavy metals above present guidelines. (This is presently being investigated.) But other incinerators have fared little better, with regular breakdowns and releases of pollutants above the levels they are supposed to operate at. Dundee's experience is an example of the failure of the operating controls on incinerators. The old incinerator in Dundee had releases of dioxins a thousand times above EU guidelines and heavy metals far above its authorised levels (ENDS, 2000). A new 'state of the art' plant, opened in 1999, has fared little better. It has had three fires in the plant; it has had releases of dioxins of 2.6ng/m3 and 1.1ng/m3 which are far above the EU standard of 0.1ng/m3 guidelines; and a filter burst releasing 24 kilograms of fly ash (ENDS, 2002). Other modern incinerators in Europe have also been found to breach EU guidelines (Allsopp, Costner & Johnston, 2001)

"Incinerators use high-temperature reactions and these always have a risk of going wrong. It is best to avoid them. Incinerators all regularly break their operation limits."
(Dalton, 2002)

The health impacts of incinerators have been widely debated. The US National Research Council Committee on Health Effects of Waste Incineration (NRC, 2000) and Allsopp, Costner & Johnston (2001) both pointed to health problems and the need for more research. In contrast to these two major pieces of work, a report for the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (NSCA) by Farmer & Hjerp (2001) gained significant news coverage as it argued that incinerators made only a very low contribution to pollutants and have little or no health effects. However, the NSCA report (Farmer & Hjerp, 2001) has been criticised for its weaknesses including a lack of a thorough review of information, inaccuracies and factual errors, and ignoring the precautionary principle, uncertainty and the likelihood of failures in the incinerator process (Johnston & Santillo, 2001). There are many doubts about the safety of incineration and there may be serious health problems.

There is growing evidence that children's health and development is being affected by the many chemicals that are long lasting in the environment and accumulate in the body including heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs.

"An epidemic of developmental, learning, and behavioral disabilities has become evident among children."
(Greater Boston Physicians, 2000)

Children's bodies to do not respond in the same ways as adults. Of particular concern is the evidence that the exposure of children and foetuses to these chemicals at very low levels can have significant long term impact on development, intelligence, behaviour, immune and hormone systems, allergies and future reproduction (European Environment Agency, 1999; Greater Boston Physicians, 2000). The European Environment Agency (1999) warned that the release of persistent artificial chemicals

"is an enormous and probably irreversible gamble with the health of children and future generations."

Although there are many sources of these chemicals, incineration is a source and as the Greater Boston Physicians (2000) state

"Toxic exposures deserve special scrutiny because they are preventable causes of harm."

There is growing public opposition to incineration.

"Public pressure is building up and saying that recovery of energy [by incineration] must not be counted as recovery. And if that happens, incinerators will have a very bad time."
(Khan, 2002)

Although any method of handling waste has some risk and may damage the environment, landfill and incineration, especially of mixed waste, rank at the bottom of ways of treatment. They are not sustainable because they destroy valuable resources and produce polluting and damaging chemicals.

Separation

The mixing of different materials into household waste causes many problems for treatment. In landfill the mixing results in reactions that produce leachate, methane and other harmful chemicals. Incinerating materials containing chlorine, especially plastics, produces dioxins; while batteries, plastics and electrical products release heavy metals; and other reactions release acids. The decomposition of mixed waste does not produce compost that can be used on gardens or farming. Essential to the safe treatment of waste to produce useful materials is the separation of materials.

Resources

What we class as waste - glass, paper, organic matter, steel, aluminium, plastics and textiles all have a use. The production of these materials takes energy whilst re-use and recycling saves energy compared to making new ones from raw materials. Every stage of the process from the raw materials to the finished product uses energy in production and transport, costs money, produces some waste and causes environmental damage. Each stage of this process that can be avoided by the recycling of materials has benefits for society and the environment. It is estimated that

"the environmental benefits of every extra 1% of recycling in the USA is equal to taking 1 million cars off the road".
(Whitney, 2002)

Landfilling of mixed waste destroys all of the resources and energy in the materials. The justification for incineration to produce energy is that it realises some of the energy in the material - although the materials themselves are mostly rendered useless. However the amount of energy realised in incineration with electricity generation is far less than the energy that would be saved if the materials were recycled for further use. A comprehensive study (Morris, 1996) concluded that

"for 24 out of 25 solid waste materials, recycling saves more energy than is generated by incinerating solid mixed waste in an energy-from-waste facility. Furthermore, energy conserved by recycling exceeds electricity generated by energy-from-waste by much more than the additional energy necessary to collect recycled materials separately from mixed solid waste, process recycled materials into manufacturing feedstocks, and ship them to manufacturers."

The energy required to produce materials varies greatly. Steel, aluminium, glass and plastics all require large quantities of energy. Even for paper, over which there is some debate, producing a tonne of newsprint from new pulp uses three times as much energy as from recycled fibres (Morris, 1996; Aylesford Newsprint, 2000). Morris (1996) concluded that

"energy conserved by recycling is three to five times as great on average as the energy generated by incinerating mixed solid waste in an energy-from-waste facility".

Employment

Landfill sites employ few people, as do incinerators. Incinerators also cost a great deal of money, with around half of the expense being to install all the filters and controls to attempt to keep the dangerous gases from escaping into the atmosphere. Recycling and re-use, in contrast, offer the potential for significant employment. Alongside the collection for recycling, composting or re-use is the expansion of existing uses and the development of new ones for the materials.

Jobs will be created in the direct collection, composting and recycling of goods.

"At present there are 37,000 jobs in waste industry which is 600-650 per million of population … If only 10 % was going to landfill, we think the direct employment would be 1500 jobs per million of population. This would be around 400 jobs in Newcastle"
(Jones, 2002)

Nova Scotia, in Canada, with a population of 1 million has moved from virtually no recycling to 50% in a few years. One important benefit has been the creation of 3,000 jobs (Friesen, 2002).

"There are 10 times more jobs in recycling than disposal."
(Friesen, 2002)

Other areas which have increased the use of recycled materials have also seen jobs and new industries developed. In Germany recycling is now big business, with over 1,000 firms and 150,000 employees, larger than the telecommunications industry (SWAP, 2003).

Newcastle Council has an Economic Strategy (Newcastle Council, 2002) of encouraging groupings of related businesses in economic clusters. BAN Waste urges the Council to add a 'Resource Recovery' cluster to its targets list. The combination of the direct and indirect employment opportunities could be between 500 and 1,000 new jobs - an opportunity the Council should seize. This policy could be implemented in partnership with ONE North East.

The Council

"Needs to take steps in areas of materials use … there are gaps in the strategy that need to be worked on and further developed … [ might] promote, encourage and facilitate a paper mill in the region."
(Rowland, 2002)

This would allow the city to gain from the opportunities for employment that will increase as recycling grows. There are already a number of firms in the region working in this area and, with support, this could grow to a significant employment industry. The development of such businesses will also reduce the transport costs as the recycled material could be processed nearby.

Social Justice

Newcastle Council has major plans for the long-term regeneration of much of the city. It is now recognised that successful regeneration needs to consider the environment and local poverty as well as the usual concerns with jobs and the physical structures. The government's Sustainable Development Commission (2002) stresses the importance of sustainable regeneration which tackles environmental inequalities and poverty.

The government has recognised that too often it is the poor that suffer from environmental injustice with the poorest environment and the worst pollution. The poor suffer from the worst health and the extra burdens of pollution add to this inequality (ESRC, 2001).

"We should not lose sight of the fact that it is the poor who suffer most from pollution."
(Prescott, 2000)

Too often polluting industry and incinerators are located in poor areas, such as Byker.

"When you say that it (incineration) is acceptable, it is acceptable to the more articulate sections of the population. From what you have said, the incinerator ends up in the less articulate section of society. I do think we ought to make that quite clear."
(Lord Judd)

"Why, if incinerators are claimed to be so safe, are they always located in poorer areas?"
(Dalton, 2002)

Building a new incinerator in Byker would add to the disadvantages that the area already suffers and would provide few jobs. BAN Waste's strategy of recycling and composting would provide more jobs, and have much less of a negative impact on the area in which it is located. This would help Newcastle to have a long-term sustainable regeneration policy as urged by the government and help to tackle issues of health and environmental justice.

The Region

"The environment of the North East of England is one of the region's biggest assets"
(ERM, 2001a)

Tom Warburton of ONE North East (2002) stressed the importance of the environment to the region. Protection and enhancing the quality of the environment is an important issue for the region's future and a new way of dealing with waste can contribute to this.

At present (ERM, 2001a), there are 880 jobs in the recycling business in the region. There is room for dramatic expansion in employment, with a long-term future, which is important for the region's economy. But it is important that

"Recycling initiatives are coordinated within the North East … to obtain the economies of scale necessary."
(ERM, 2001a)

Recycling provides a great opportunity for new employment; it is expected to double in size nationally in the next 10 years. In addition there are many opportunities in the use of the materials collected. However this will need support and both local authorities and ONE North East have an important role (ERM, 2001b).

ONE North East focuses on economic activity and sustainability,

"We will have moved to a new development path that pursues economic growth, social progress, environmental improvement and resource efficiency - at the same time and in an integrated way."
(One North East, 1999)

However it is not always the case that the aims of economic growth and sustainability are as integrated as they should be, as often a narrow view of economic development takes priority. ONE North East has a key role to grasp the potential of recycling.

"Market development is an area where the RDA could do more"
(Warburton, 2002)

BAN Waste welcomes the support for an Environment Industries cluster in the new Regional Strategy and trust that development of industries based on recycled materials will be central to this.

A key part of the development of a regional strategy, which combines economic and environmental concerns, is the work by the North East's Regional Technical Advisory Board (RTAB) on waste. The outcome of RTAB's work will be shift towards "treating waste as a resource" (Warburton, 2002). This shift in regional strategy which helps to produce high quality and large volumes of recycled materials will encourage the development of industries in the region.

Towards a Waste Strategy for the North East (ERM, 2003), produced as part of the preparation of the regional strategy, considers the various impacts of five strategy options. After consulting regional stakeholders they have recommended the regional strategy aims for high levels of recycling and composting, above national targets, with the residue to be treated by digestion before any landfill. The option does not include incineration.

There are many and powerful reason to change from waste disposal to resource recovery. Far too much of our present efforts, use of materials and energy end up thrown away, damaging the environment. In contrast, a high level of recycling composting and re-use is better for employment, the environment and health.

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Chapter 3

Reasons to Change

Part 2: Public Opinion

Hey you! Don't throw away
Try to reuse things every day
Plastic, paper, wood, clothes,
Metal, glass and cans
Don't put them in your wheelie bin
To waste all this would be a sin.

Chorus
Recycle, recycle!
Use those things again
Don't throw out
Cut down on waste
Make this world a better place

Protect the environment
Pollution means more energy spent
Rubbish is filling up too much land
Using recycling bins is just grand
Plastic takes years and years to rot
Look after our world, it's all we've got.

The performance of this Rap by members of Farne Primary School, Newcastle, was a powerful statement about the need to change the way we treat waste. These young people will have to live in the world we leave them. It is up to us today whether tomorrow they have pollution and few resources or a clean healthy world. As the children stated, this world is all we've got!

Fortunately for these children, public opinion is on their side to protect and improve the environment for today and the future.

Environment Agency Report

The Environment Agency commissioned a study of the public's views on handling household waste (Environment Agency, 2002). The findings were favourable to a shift in the way society handles waste. Most people, ~80%, were willing to sort their waste and to recycle, especially if there are good facilities and services. Most people viewed objects made from recycled materials favourably with 69% describing them as 'better' or 'equal quality' and 73% 'more' or 'as likely' to buy. Top of the list to recycle were newspapers, glass bottles and drinks cans which is hardly surprising as these are the ones for which facilities are widespread.


Public Attitude to Sorting for Recycling (Environment Agency, 2002)

The findings point to a willingness to recycle and compost which is much higher than what is actually achieved and the key reason for this difference was the lack of easily used facilities. Kerbside collection from households makes a significant difference.

"Where containers are provided, incidence of responsible recycling action increases dramatically across the entire spectrum of recyclable products but is especially true of "less top of mind" recyclable waste products (i.e. plastics, vegetable peelings, etc)."

"If the aim is to increase the public's willingness to co-operate in sorting and recycling schemes, much depends on the council provision. Findings indicate that where individuals are provided with the means/receptacles into which to separate, participation increases dramatically."
(Environment Agency, 2002)

BAN Waste Community Events

BAN Waste organised seven Community Events across the city in the spring of 2002. The full details are in the BAN Waste Community Events Report (BAN Waste, 2002b); the key findings are outlined below. These were held in community centres, schools, libraries and swimming pools. The attendance included both people with some interest or curiosity about waste and a great many who had no previous interest. They were attended, on average, by 54 adults and 34 children. This is successful, especially when compared to the attendance for the consultations organised by the Council on the highly controversial Going for Growth plans of an average of 25 people.

Attendance Profile

The profile of those attending is based on people who filled in the questionnaire, which tends to under-represent children and young people. One of the challenges of these events was to reach a cross section of the city's population. The age range of those attending was very broad with a good representation of ages 0 - 11, 19 - 30 and 51 - 60, with an under representation of teenagers and over 60s. There was an over representation of people between 31-50.

Age

Community Event

Newcastle Residents

0 - 11

9%

13%

12 - 18

2%

9%

19 - 30

17%

18%

31 - 50

55%

27%

51 - 60

9%

10%

Over 60

8%

22%

Age of those filling in Questionnaires at BAN Waste Community Events

Those who described themselves as having a disability was 13%, which is very close to the citywide level of 14%.

The ethnic diversity was fairly close to the city average apart from a modest under representation of people from a South Asian background.

Community Event

Newcastle Residents

White

97%

96%

Black

1%

0.4%

South Asian

1%

2.4%

Other

1%

0.8%

Chinese

0%

0.5%

Ethnic Description of those filling in Questionnaires at BAN Waste Community Events

The socio-economic profile was similar to the city's although there are not the same categories in census data so exact comparison is difficult.

Students (including school)

16%

Unemployed

8%

Working Class

32%

Middle Class

28%

Executive

2%

Other

13%

Socio-economic Description of those filling in Questionnaires at BAN Waste Community Events

The one area where representation was out of line with the city was gender, as two thirds of those who attended were women compared to 51% in the city. But overall, for events organised on a very modest budget and run by volunteers, the numbers attending and the cross section of the population was very successful.

Findings

Views were collected in a variety of ways. There is a high concern about the environment and about the need to reduce waste. There is also very strong willingness to act.

Yes

Do you ever think about the waste you throw away?

88%

Do you think that as society we produce too much waste?

96%

Do you ever try to reduce your waste?

81%

When shopping do you ever refuse extra plastic bags?

69%

Do you choose items with less packaging?

62%

Should the Council and Government do more to reduce waste and packaging?

97%

Would you put your garden/kitchen waste in a separate container for collection?

90%

Would you sort your waste into glass, paper, plastics, etc. so that it could be recycled?

95%

General Views on Waste in Newcastle (BAN Waste, 2002b)

There was overwhelming support for recycling and composting, with people willing to separate materials. Crucial to success though is that recycling is supported by the council in ways which are easy to use.

"The vast majority of people want to dramatically increase the levels of recycling and composting and are willing to do their share, especially if good, comprehensive and easy to use systems are in place."
(BAN Waste, 2002b)

There was strong criticism and frustration about the lack of facilities and support for recycling in Newcastle.


Preferred Future Treatment of Newcastle's Waste (BAN Waste, 2002b)

There is very little support for incineration or landfill. Even when asked "If Newcastle decided to have an Incinerator, what should be burnt in it?" over two thirds stated "Nothing".

Comments

Incineration

Composting

Recycling

Other Evidence

The teachers from the schools, Farne and Stocksfield primary (Dixon & French, 2002), stated that there was a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the children and support from their parents. However it was difficult to translate this support for recycling in school to behaviour at home due to a lack of facilities. This was also the experience of Richard Hurst (2002), of WasteWise, in working with schools in County Durham

As part of the preparation of the Strategy Unit's report, MORI (2002) investigated public opinion on waste and recycling. The findings were in line with those of BAN Waste and the Environment Agency.

"The public is supportive of recycling, re-use, and composting and recognises that these are 'good' activities."

"The majority of the public believe the UK's recycling performance is poor in relation to European counterparts, leading to a desire to 'catch up' and learn from best practice."

"Demand for kerbside recycling is high, three in four say they would recycle more if this was available to them … the initial evidence suggests that this claim is in fact borne out in reality."

There is strong opposition to landfill. Incineration is only considered acceptable if it is part of a "recycling-led strategy where everything that can be recycled has been recycled", plastics are not incinerated, and "operating guidelines are strict and preferably under public control rather than a private company". The public also recognise the need for more information about recycling.

Barry Rowland of Newcastle Council (2002) recognises the views of the public are as outlined above and that they are an important consideration when deciding future policy for the city.

"Folks are going to vote against incineration at one end … So I think what it does say is that public opinion is absolutely clear … and we understand that and that needs to be taken into consideration when decisions are made."

The public want to see a change in how we deal with waste. There is also significant frustration at the present inadequate support for recycling, composting and re-use. While it is true that some people exaggerate their willingness to act, there remains powerful support for change. A good resource recovery strategy would support and build on the public's mood. A good system will gain support, while a continuation of the present failures or the introduction of a poor system will alienate people.

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Chapter 4

Newcastle's Household Waste

Almost everything that is thrown out by households can be re-used, recycled and composted. Some furniture, electrical goods and bric-a-brac can be refurbished and re-used; paper, glass, metal, plastic and textiles can be recycled; and organic matter from kitchens and gardens can be composted.

Household waste is disposed of in a number of ways. The bulk of it is taken from the household in one or more bins by a regular collection service. In addition some is taken to Civic Amenity sites or bring schemes and some is specially collected from the household upon request. Also included in the category of household waste are street sweepings and some materials collected from schools and hospitals. Municipal waste, a wider definition of waste, includes materials from business as well as what is classed as household waste.

Household Bin

CA Sites

Total

kg/house

%

kg/house

%

kg/house

%

Garden Waste

134

15.4%

98

37.5%

232

20.5%

Kitchen Waste

194

22.2%

1

0.4%

195

17.2%

Soil etc

10

1.1%

30

11.5%

40

3.5%

Fines (dust, sweepings, etc)

32

3.7%

2

0.8%

34

3.0%

Paper & Card

199

22.8%

10

3.8%

209

18.4%

Glass

73

8.4%

4

1.5%

77

6.8%

Metal tins etc

29

3.3%

0

0.0%

29

2.6%

Scrap metal/white goods

26

3.0%

25

9.6%

51

4.5%

Plastic Bottles

18

2.1%

0

0.0%

18

1.6%

Other Plastic

59

6.8%

3

1.1%

62

5.5%

Textiles

28

3.2%

5

1.9%

33

2.9%

Wood

24

2.8%

23

8.8%

47

4.1%

Nappies

21

2.4%

0

0.0%

21

1.9%

Furniture

2

0.2%

12

4.6%

14

1.2%

Other

23

2.6%

48

18.4%

71

6.3%

Total

872

100.0%

261

100.0%

1133

100.0%

Household Waste England (CRN, 2002)

National Waste Trends

In recent years, the weight of municipal waste has been growing at over 3% per year. However, the bulk of this growth has been from the Commercial sector and Civic Amenity sites. There is some evidence that some of the waste at Civic Amenity (CA) sites is trade waste rather than from households. Jones (2002) pointed out that their experience is that having monitored

"the actual dustcart inputs, and tonnages are flat … the significant increases have been from the roll off carts, which come from CA sites".

The introduction of wheelie bins has also produced a surge in waste.



1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

Average 1996-2001

Household Collection

1,000 tonnes

15,660

16,069

16,135

16,549

16,820

% growth

2.6

0.4

2.6

1.6

1.7

Total Household Collection *

1,000 tonnes

22,549

23,333

23,586

24,630

25,104

% growth

3.5

1.1

4.4

1.9

2.7

Total Municipal Waste **

1,000 tonnes

24,588

25,711

26,342

27,461

28,150

% growth

4.6

2.5

4.2

2.5

3.4

Municipal Waste Growth in England (ENDS, April 2002b)

* Total household waste includes waste from civic amenity sites, recycling schemes and street sweepings
** Municipal waste is household waste plus commercial waste collected by local authorities

Newcastle

The total household waste (as defined by the government) collected by Newcastle in the year 2001/02 was 135,500 tonnes. Although this is slightly higher than the total of 130,367 quoted in some calculations, the council believe that the 135,500 tonnes is a more accurate total. The total household waste has remained stable in recent years. This is in part because although the waste per household has increased the total number of households has declined. In 2001/02 the level of Newcastle's waste increased, largely due to a change in classification so that waste from schools and hospitals were included in the total for household waste.

Tonnes

1998/99

122,329

1999/00

122,124

2000/01

121,242

2001/02

130,367

Newcastle's Domestic Waste

There are a number of different collection systems for household waste in addition to the bin collection. Civic Amenity sites have an important role, as these are where people can take household waste much of which is garden and building materials. Bulky Collection is a Council service to collects large objects, such as furniture, and additional waste such as garden and building materials that do not fit in the standard household bin. Street sweepings and waste from schools and hospitals are also included in the category of household waste.

Percent

Tonnes

Bin collections

64.0

86,720

Bring schemes

2.1

2,827

Civic Amenity sites

13.5

18,260

Bulky collections

9.8

13,279

Schools/hospital waste

4.3

5,827

Street cleansing

4.8

6,504

Charity shops

0.3

439

Other

1.2

1,644

Total

100.0

135,500

Collection of Newcastle's Household Waste

At present Newcastle is carrying out a study to find out what is in the city's household bins. An initial result from September (Network Recycling, 2002) is roughly in line with the national average, although some of the categories do not have the same definitions. It is also important to note that what is thrown out varies a great deal between households and throughout the year so the annual average will not be the same as from the September sample. In summer there is more gardening matter, while after Christmas there is a surge in packaging.

Household Bin Waste

% by weight

Organic (Kitchen/Canteen/ Garden)

36

Wood

1

Paper (& Card)

20

Plastics (Containers & Film)

10

Glass

6

Textiles

3

Metals

5

Hazardous

1

Complex (Packaging, electrical goods, etc)

5

Inert (soil etc)

8

Other

5

Fines

0

Total

100

Analysis of Newcastle's Household Bin Waste, September 2002 (Network Recycling, 2002)

A quick look at these figures, making allowances for materials within these categories that are more challenging to recycle or compost, makes it clear that well over half of the waste thrown out in the bins could be easily recycled or composted and higher levels could be achieved with good systems and public involvement.

Percent (by weight)

of Total Bin Waste

Organic

30

Paper

16

Plastics

3

Glass

6

Textiles

2

Metals

4

Other

1

Total

62

Portion of Household Bin Waste Easily Recycled

As well as those that are easy to recycle, a waste strategy must also deal with potentially harmful materials. Although hazardous waste constitutes only 1% of the waste by weight, in terms of impact it is much more significant. It is likely Newcastle sends between 200 and 500 tonnes of consumer batteries, containing toxic heavy metals, to landfill every year.

At present Newcastle recycles 3.6% of the total household waste. All the rest, over 130,000 tonnes is sent to landfill without prior treatment.

Tonnes Recycled

Percent of Total Household Waste

Bring Schemes

2,827

2.1

Civic Amenity Sites

1,660

1.2

Charities

439

0.3

Total

4,926

3.6

Newcastle's Present Recycling

Yet much of Newcastle's waste could be readily recycled, composted and re-used. In addition to the bin waste, the materials from Civic Amenity sites, collection of bulky objects and garden waste, and schools and hospitals all have the potential for re-use, recycling and composting. Over half of Newcastle's household waste can be treated as a resource for future use.

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Chapter 5

An Outline Resource Recovery Strategy for Newcastle

This chapter outlines a Resource Recovery strategy for the City of Newcastle to deal with what is presently considered waste. It is based on the aims of BAN Waste and best practice in Britain and internationally. It mainly focuses on the areas of difference with the strategy presently proposed by Newcastle Council.

There are quite a few figures in this chapter, but hopefully this will not obscure the key points. For the sake of clarity, tonnages are based on the household waste collected in 2001/2002. The figures presented indicate the likely outcomes of BAN Waste's strategy. It is not possible to give precise figures as we are dealing with a number of unknowns. The composition of the city's waste is not fully known, although it is presently being investigated. This report has drawn on national composition figures, as have the Council. Future changes in legislation, packaging and the behaviour of individuals will all have an impact on waste composition over the years. It is projected that waste per household will rise, although there is much less certainty about how much and for how long, given the government's stated aim to reduce waste. At present the number of households in Newcastle is declining and a growing number of the households are of fewer people. Both these trends may reduce the total tonnage of Newcastle's household waste even if the waste produced by each person increases. For the sake of clarity, most of the calculations in this report are based on the present levels of waste, although there are comments on the implications of possible growth.

BAN Waste's Principles

BAN Waste's proposals are based on:

Broad Outline of BAN Waste's Strategy

BAN Waste's proposals include collecting as much as is practical of materials for recycling, re-use and composting. This is done through a number of routes. The core method is the collection of recyclables (paper, glass, cans, textiles and plastics), organic matter and some household hazardous waste direct from the household by kerbside collection. In addition BAN Waste proposes improved Civic Amenity sites to collect recyclable and compostable materials. Bring Schemes and the collection of bulky goods from households are also improved.

The recyclable materials are sorted and dispatched to various users. Organic matter is composted in enclosed vessels to produce high quality compost without problems of odour, attracting pests, release of bio-aerosols and releases of harmful chemicals to water.

The residue of waste, that which is not sorted for composting, recycling or re-use, from the households, street sweepings, Civic Amenity sites and bulky collections is around 42% of household waste. This will be Mechanically and Biologically treated to remove metals by magnets and anaerobically digesting the remainder. The anaerobic digestion produces methane gas which can be used as fuel and reduces the overall weight of the waste by 25% -40%. The end product is not reactive so that, when it goes to landfill, it does not produce harmful leachate, methane and other gases.

Newcastle Council's Strategy

Newcastle Council aims to reach the government targets by introducing kerbside collection of dry recyclables, expanding the Civic Amenity sites and bring schemes. It is planned that kerbside collection will capture 10% of the city's household waste. It is hoped this would increase over time towards 15% (Rowland, 2002). There will be additional recycling from bulky collection and metals extraction from mixed waste so that 26% of household waste will be recycled. The Council does not propose a collection of organic matter from households for composting.

Under the Council's proposed strategy most of the total household waste, around 74%, will still be collected all mixed together. This is a much larger portion than proposed by BAN Waste. Of this 74%, 40% will be treated by incineration to capture some energy in the materials, 18% by a process based on composting, and 16% will go direct landfill (Rowland, 2002). An incinerator reduces the weight of solids from the input to 30% as ash, although with high pre-sorting the weight of ash can be significantly reduced. A proportion, the fly ash, has to be sent to special landfill sites, as it is a hazardous waste.

Comparison

The main treatment routes are summarised in the table.

BAN Waste

Newcastle Council

Home Compost

1.5

0

Recycle and Reuse

30.0

26

Compost of Separate Organic Matter

24.0

0

Stabilisation by Composting of Mixed Waste

0

18

Incineration

0

40

Rubble

3.5

0

Mechanical and Biological Treatment

41.0

0

Direct Landfill

0

16

Total

100

100

Comparison of Main Treatments as Proposed by BAN Waste and Newcastle Council

Both the Council and BAN Waste propose improvements to Civic Amenity sites, increased Bring schemes and improved recycling from the bulky collection.

BAN Waste's strategy has over 50% recycling re-use and compost. The Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) of the residue captures methane gas for energy and metals for recycling. After MBT the inactive remainder, ~ 28% of the original total waste, is sent to landfill.

Newcastle Council aims to recycle, compost and re-use 26% of waste. A further 18% of mixed waste will be treated by mechanical sorting of mixed waste and then a composting process. However there are concerns about whether results of this process are of a high enough quality to be classed as real compost. There are doubts about whether all the contaminants in the mixed waste can be removed to ensure the output is clean and safe. Incineration captures energy from the waste but does not contribute to recycling or composting. The material sent to landfill is not inert; 16% of the total will consist of mixed waste which will produce leachate, methane and other polluting gases. The ash from the incinerator, which contains reactive chemicals and heavy metals, also goes to landfill. The total amount of waste sent to landfill is similar to that proposed by BAN Waste; the difference is that in Newcastle Council's proposal the landfill is reactive. Newcastle Council's proposals are still much more based on disposal rather than resource recovery.

BAN Waste's Proposals in More Detail

BAN Waste proposes that the different routes of Newcastle's waste should each be given appropriate attention.

Tonnes

Percent

Bin collections

87,000

64.3%

Bring schemes

4,000

3.0%

Civic Amenity sites

16,700

12.3%

Bulky collections

13,300

9.8%

Schools/hospital waste

5,800

4.3%

Street cleansing

6,500

4.8%

Other

2,000

1.5%

Total

135,300

100.0%

Newcastle's Household Waste: Different Collection Streams (Figures rounded)

Kerbside Collection for Recycling

Of the 87,000 tonnes collected from household bins the majority is made up of easily recyclable materials. Based on the national figures and the results of Septembers analysis of Newcastle's waste (Network Recycling, 2002) this report works on the composition of waste as outlined in the table.

National Percent of Bin Waste

Newcastle Percent of Bin Waste

Assume for Report

Percent

Tonnes

Organic (Kitchen/Canteen/ Garden)

38.6%

36.0%

37.0%

32,200

Paper

17.6%

16.0%

17.0%

14,800

Card

5.1%

4.0%

4.5%

3,900

Plastics Bottles

2.1%

2.5%

2.5%

2,200

Other plastics

6.7%

7.5%

7.0%

6,100

Glass Containers

7.9%

5.5%

6.5%

5,700

Other Glass

0.5%

0.5%

0.5%

400

Textiles

3.2%

3.0%

3.0%

2,600

Cans

3.3%

4.0%

3.5%

3,000

Metals

3.0%

1.0%

2.5%

2,200

Hazardous

1%

1%

1.0%

900

Assorted Others

11%

19%

15.0%

13,000

Total

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

87,000

Composition of Household Waste Bins (CRN, 2002 & Network Recycling, 2002)

The most effective means of collection is weekly by kerbside collection. It may be necessary to investigate appropriate methods for the 12,000 households in high-rise and other multi-occupancy dwellings (as Newcastle Council is doing a present), which may be different from that used in the 102,000 low-rise houses. Whatever the detailed methods used virtually all households should be covered by the kerbside collection systems. For this analysis, the total of collections from low and high rise are combined.

To reduce pollution and road congestion in the densely built-up areas of the city and at the same time allow more interaction between the collecting crews and the public we would urge the consideration of the use of electric powered carts, which carry separate containers for each material. When a container is full it is off-loaded onto a large vehicle which is contacted by radio. Such electric vehicles are already in use in several areas of London and are being introduced in Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton and are manufactured in Gateshead.

Each household would have a convenient container, a 'blue box', in which to place the recyclables in. The collector would directly sort from the box into containers on the vehicle as they are collected. Such schemes, as in Daventry, Bath, Bristol and Lambeth, collect materials that are well sorted with a low contamination rate of less than 0.5% (CRN, 2002).

Crucial to the success of a scheme is the portion of the potential material collected. CRN's report (2002) outlines present and potential levels in England.

Present Average

Present Good

Potential

Paper

61%

70%

80%

Card

39%

58%

70%

Glass Containers

56%

67%

80%

Plastic Bottles

29%

61%

60%

Cans

18%

56%

65%

Textiles

8%

20%

50%

Recycling Yields for Different Materials by Kerbside Collection from Household Bins (CRN, 2002)

Based on the levels of recycling that CRN outline, if Newcastle was close to the average level it would collect nearly 15,000 tonnes of recyclables from the kerbside. This should be a short-term target, in the next few years. Achieving what is in line with present good practice in Britain would yield nearly 20,000 tonnes. BAN Waste believes that Newcastle should aim to achieve the potential that CRN outlines, which would bring the city towards best practice internationally and the levels urged by the Strategy Unit's report (2002). The table outlines the tonnes collected for recycling if Newcastle was near to the level that CRN state is possible. This would result in 24,000 tonnes of recyclable materials being collected from the kerbside. This should be the long-term aim to be realised in the next five to ten years.

Portion of Total in Newcastle Household Bins

Short-term Recycling Level,

(Based on CRN's 'Present Average')

Long-term Recycling Level,

(Near to CRN's 'Potential')

%

Tonnes

% of material

Tonnes

% of material

Tonnes

Paper

17.0%

14,800

61%

9,000

74%

11,000

Card

4.5%

3,900

38%

1,500

67%

2,600

Plastics Bottles

2.5%

2,200

27%

600

50%

1,100

Other plastics

7.0%

6,100

0%

0

8%

500

Glass Containers

6.5%

5,700

53%

3,000

79%

4,500

Textiles

3.0%

2,600

8%

200

46%

1,200

Cans

3.5%

3,000

17%

500

53%

1,600

Other Metals

2.5%

2,200

0%

0

45%

1,000

Hazardous

1.0%

900

56%

500

Total

41,400

14,800

24,000

Levels of Probable Kerbside Recycling Yield in Newcastle

In addition BAN Waste would suggest that some household waste that is considered hazardous, such as consumer batteries, paint and solvents, is collected. This will not increase the weight by much, probably around 500 tonnes a year, but will make a significant difference by removing harmful chemicals from disposal in landfill.

Compost

One of the most effective ways to reduce waste, with additional benefits of saved transport is to support home composting. Newcastle residents already home compost around 2,000 tonnes (Rowland, 2002). BAN Waste would recommend a policy of active encouragement and support for home composting. This could probably reduce the weight into bins by a further 2,000 tonnes, with very modest expenditure.

The organic material in the household bin is assuming greater importance. There are growing calls for it to be treated as a priority for collection and composting (Strategy Unit, 2002). In other countries very successful schemes are run which have significantly reduced waste disposal.

BAN Waste would urge the collection of organic household material. Probably the most effective way is a weekly collection of kitchen waste, collected by electric vehicles in densely populated areas and trucks in other areas. Each household would be issued with a small pail with a lid and biodegradable bag. The bag with contents is placed in the collection vehicle.

In addition a service could be provided for garden waste. This would be in areas with gardens, approximately 40,000 houses (SWAP, 2003), run fortnightly in the growing season and monthly in the winter. This could be done by using the large compactor trucks at weekends.

Organic waste makes up well over 35% of household bin waste; this is roughly 2/3 from kitchens and 1/3 from gardens. In addition some paper and card that cannot be recycled is well suited to composting. This would mean that there is a potential to collect over 30,000 tonnes of organic matter, an average of 250 kilograms from each household a year. The collection of organic matter is relatively undeveloped in Britain, although in other countries it is well established and has been very successful. The report for the Strategy Unit by Eunomia (2002) gives figures for the level of bio and green waste collected in some European countries.

Organic Municipal Solid Waste

Separately Collected

Separately Collected as % of total Organic Municipal Solid Waste

Austria

800,000

600,000

75%

Flanders

1,158,795

723,795

62%

Denmark

973,000

652,000

67%

Germany

9,000,000

7,000,000

78%

Netherlands

3,452,400

1,790,000

52%

Sweden

1,500,000

400,000

27%

Collection of Green and Bio Waste in Europe (Eunomia, 2002)

A successful kerbside collection of kitchen and garden waste could yield some 18,000 tonnes for composting.

Tonnes in Household Bins

Capture Rate of 60%

Garden Waste

10,000

6,000

Kitchen Waste

20,000

12,000

Total

18,000

Kerbside Collection of Organic Matter for Compost

Civic Amenity Sites

In terms of the potential for change and success, Civic Amenity sites offer the greatest potential after kerbside collection. They are locations where people with cars can bring and deposit various materials. They collect sizable quantities of garden waste, old furniture and electrical goods, building materials and the usual recyclables. At present most Civic Amenity (CA) sites resemble a 'dump' with very low recycling levels. Of the 18,000 tonnes that pass through Newcastle's Civic Amenity sites only 1,600 tonnes are recycled, composted or re-used.

They should be transformed to Recycling Centres. Made attractive with well-run recycling facilities, clean and well kept locations, helpful and friendly staff (Jones, 2002).

"Civic Amenity sites need to be psychologically exciting attractive, where people want to go with coffee bar, close circuit camera, charts telling people about trends, reward schemes etc. Need clear signage, clarity."
(Jones, 2002)

Newcastle Council is investing significant sums in the Walbottle site and has similar plans to refurbish the site at Brunswick. This will improve the environment of these sites and allow for increased recycling. BAN Waste supports these improvements and hopes that these sites can become examples of best practice as Recycling Centres.

At present Newcastle's CA sites collect over 18,000 tonnes. With some improvement the total handled could be around 25,000 tonnes. The level of recycling and composting can be dramatically improved. There are sites in England, including in Dorset, Hampshire and Lincolnshire, that recycle and compost around 60-70% of the materials (CRN, 2002). There is no detailed analysis of the materials that are handled at Newcastle's CA sites now, but it is likely to be similar to other sites across the country. Achieving levels approaching 60%, would produce 14,800 tonnes for recycling and composting. The rubble can be recycled but does not count towards the Council's targets. The residual remainder would be sent for Mechanical and Biological Treatment.

Quantities Delivered to CA Sites (Tonnes)

Capture Rate for Recycling, Compost & Re-use

Recycled, Composted & Re-used (Tonnes)

Garden matter

11,000

80%

8,800

Dry Recyclables

2,250

80%

1,800

Wood

2,500

60%

1,500

Scrap Metal

2,500

80%

2,000

Furniture, Electrical Goods & Bric-a-brac

1,000

50%

500

Hazardous

250

100%

250

Recycle & Compost Total

59%

14,850

Building Materials

5,500

50%

2,750

Rubble captured

2,750

Residue

7,400

Total

25,000

25,000

Civic Amenity Sites Potential to Recycle and Compost

Bulky Collection

The collection of bulky goods and garden waste on request from people's houses is a significant portion of total waste, 13,000 tonnes. It is a service that BAN Waste supports and believes should be strengthened, in particular given the high portion of the population in the city without a car. Its value could be significantly improved by separation of materials when collected so that they can be sorted for recycling and composting. At present Newcastle Council does not have a detailed breakdown of what materials are collected in this stream. However, it is likely to be similar to what is taken to Civic Amenity sites and therefore has the potential to be recycled, re-used and composted.

Quantities Collected (Tonnes)

Capture Rate

Recycled, Composted & Re-used (Tonnes)

Garden matter

5,000

80%

4,000

Wood

1,000

60%

600

Scrap Metal

500

80%

400

Furniture, Electrical Goods & Bric-a-brac

1,500

50%

750

Other

1,000

0

0

Recycle & Compost Total

44%

5,750

Building Materials

4,000

50%

2,000

Rubble captured

15%

2,000

Residue

40%

5,250

Total

13,000

13,000

Treatment of Bulky Collection

Bring Schemes

These collect a modest amount of recyclable materials, but do cater for some people including visitors to the city. They are best located in busy places, particularly main shopping areas. At present they collect just under 3,000 tonnes for recycling. Evidence shows that, even with the introduction of kerbside collection, bring schemes continue to have a role and could be expected to collect around 5,000 tonnes.

Tonnes

Paper

2,500

Glass

1,250

Metals

850

Textiles

200

Plastics

200

Total

5,000

Recyclables from Bring Schemes

Schools and Hospitals

Included in the household waste stream are 5,800 tonnes collected from schools and hospitals. This is likely to be easy to sort for separate treatment and include high levels of paper and organic matter (kitchens).

Tonnes Collected

Capture Rate

Tonnes

Paper & Card

2,900

70%

2,030

Organics

1,750

80%

1,400

Other

1,150

Recycle & Compost Total

3,430

Residue

2,370

Total

5,800

5,800

Schools and Hospitals: Recycling and Compost

Street Sweepings

In addition, the household waste stream includes some 6,5000 tonnes of street sweepings which, for the present, BAN Waste proposes is treated with the residue.

Household Mixed Waste

At present Newcastle collects 87,700 tonnes of mixed waste from households every year. This is done by a weekly collection service. Based on the policies outlined in this report for kerbside collection for recycling and composting, improved Civic Amenity sites, bulky collection and bring schemes, the remainder would be greatly reduced. 5This residue would amount to somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 tonnes, less than half of the present level. Such a significant reduction would offer the potential of moving from a weekly to a fortnightly collection of the residual as is the practice in Nova Scotia and elsewhere. Such a shift would offer significant financial savings as well as further encourage people to recycle and compost.

Summary of Collections

Kerbside

Civic Amenity

Bulky

Bring

Schools & Hospitals

Metals from MBT

Total

Paper & Card

13,600

900

2,500

2,030

19,030

Glass

4,500

400

1,250

6,150

Metal*

2,600

2,300

400

850

1,500

7,650

Plastic

1,600

100

200

1,900

Textiles

1,200

100

200

1,500

Furniture & WEEE

500

750

1,250

Wood

1,500

600

2,100

Other & Hazardous

500

250

750

Total Recycle

24,000

6,050

1,750

5,000

2,030

1,500

40,330

Rubble

2,750

2,000

4,750

Total

24,000

8,800

3,750

5,000

2,030

1,500

45,080

Potential Level of Recycling & Re-use

(*Note: Metals from Civic Amenity Sites includes 2,000 tonnes of Scrap Metal and 300 tonnes of cans, part of the 1,800 in previous table of Dry Recyclables)

Tonnes

Kerbside

18,000

Civic Amenity

8,800

Bulky

4,000

Schools & Hospitals

1,400

Total

32,200

Potential Level of Composting

Comment

The levels of kerbside collection for recycling and composting proposed by BAN Waste are significantly higher than those used by SWAP (2003) for their economic analysis. As SWAP recognises, this is because BAN Waste and SWAP have taken different approaches. SWAP has based its analysis on what is "current standard practice of local authorities in Britain". The figures that SWAP have calculated for the likely tonnes collected by a strategy based on standard practice raise questions as to whether Newcastle Council's present proposals will achieve the desired results. SWAP calculate that collecting fortnightly, as planned by the Council, would gather 5,800 tonnes over the year, which is well below the Council's aim of 10,000 tonnes a year.

SWAP recognise that the levels they have used are not as high as outlined by BAN Waste. BAN Waste's proposals are more in line with those "urged by the new Strategy Unit report" and those suggested as possible by the Community Recycling Network report. SWAP was understandably reluctant to try and estimate the costs of achieving these higher levels as there are little or no examples in Britain today.

BAN Waste agrees with SWAP that to

"achieve these higher levels in Britain, which are achieved in other countries, will take a cultural shift as urged by BAN Waste".

BAN Waste believes that all British cities over the next decade will have to move to these achievable higher levels and wants Newcastle to be at the front of this change.

Re-use

The SWAP report (2003) outlines schemes to recycle and reuse wood, furniture, white goods and computers and paint. Although these handle relatively small portions of the total waste stream we would support their introduction as they remove potentially harmful materials, encourage the re-use of goods and provide social and employment benefits. A number of these schemes would create new training and business opportunities, although they may need initial financial support. They also provide a social service in providing good quality furniture, paint, computers and white goods for community groups and the less well off.

Treatment

Recycling

As the materials are sorted at the kerbside into separate compartments on the vehicle for the different materials, there is little need for further sorting. The materials would be taken to a depot for bulking up and dispatch to the users. There would be need for some covered storage, offices and room and access for vehicles.

Compost

This organic matter would be composted in-vessel, yielding good quality compost suitable for gardens and agriculture. In the past composting was commonly done in open rows, windrows. However BAN Waste recommends the use of sealed containers, in-vessel composting, because it occupies less space, meets the requirements on quality and treatment, controls bio-aerosols, removes problems of odour, risk of pests and ensures better control of temperature. The natural compost process generates heat to a high enough temperature, 60-70oC, to kill most weed seeds and pathogens. In-vessel composting does not require a great deal of technology - it largely relies on natural processes. This makes maintenance easy and inexpensive. It also has a low energy use, the process itself is natural with only preparation and handling using energy. The input requires some preparation of shredding and mixing and the output is usually sieved.

As the materials being composted are free from contaminating plastics, glass and heavy metals and the treatment process will kill any pathogens, the end product will be high quality compost which meets standards. Therefore it can be used on parks, gardens and farmland and there would be a marketing opportunity.

Mechanical and Biological Treatment

Although this is a new technology in Britain it is commonly used in parts of Europe. This treatment is to produce stable and inert materials for landfill, to reduce the amount going to landfill and to capture the methane gas for energy production rather than escaping as pollution. It would handle the mixed waste from street sweepings, the residue of household waste after the collection of recyclable and compostable materials and similar residues from CA sites, bulky collections and business.

The mixed waste would be mechanically treated by passing under magnets to remove the steel and aluminium. It is also possible to remove heavy materials such as glass and stones which can be used as a low level aggregate. It is possible that some paper and plastic can be removed by mechanical sorting - however this has a little or no market value for recycling because of contamination so it may not be worthwhile to invest in this technology.

The biological treatment consists of allowing it to decay naturally without oxygen, anaerobically digested. This digestion reduces the weight of the materials. It also raises the temperature to kill pathogens and the heat drives off much of the water content so further reducing the weight of the residue. The process produces methane gas which is similar to natural gas and can be used as clean fuel. The process takes place in a sealed vessel so there is little or no problem with odours or pests. In addition filters are attached to capture any bio-aerosols, odours or harmful gases that may escape.

The outputs are the steel and aluminium which can then be sent for recycling, biogas which can be used as a fuel and the remainder that would go to landfill. This remainder is largely inactive so there is little production of leachate or methane gas. The treatment reduces the weight of material that goes to landfill by between 25% and 40%.

The system is also flexible so that, if the residue declines as recycling and composting increases, the equipment can be transferred to treat clean organic waste to produce biogas and compost.

Waste Trends

This report has calculated the levels of collection on present waste levels, rather than estimating future volumes. Nationally total municipal waste has been rising at 3% a year, although as Jones (2002) stated there is some evidence that this is mainly due to trade waste entering into the household stream. Estimating future waste levels in Newcastle is difficult as it depends not only on changes in waste produced per person but also on changes in population, presently falling, the number of people per household and the level of income of households. It is also the case that if the amount of waste does rise, it is unlikely to be at the same rate for all the materials in the waste stream.

However, it is important that whatever strategy the city adopts, it has the flexibility to deal with change. BAN Waste's strategy does exactly that. It will be relatively simple and inexpensive to increase the amount of materials recycled. Composting is carried out in modular units so increased capacity can be added simply and without great cost. Similarly, the capacity of MBT plants can be increased fairly economically. Also, if the level of clean organic matter increases and mixed waste declines, sections of an MBT plant can be switched to produce compost rather than be used as a treatment for landfill.

Outline of BAN Waste's Strategy

Costs

This section of the report is not a fully costed waste strategy; BAN Waste does not have the resources or information to carry that out. It is only possible to calculate such costs with detailed knowledge of the system, households, routes, staffing, etc. However, it does examine some of the key parts of the BAN Waste policy, in particular those that are different from Newcastle Council's present proposals, and give indicative costs. The investigation of the costs for kerbside collection indicate the range of theoretical calculations and the need for the costs to be based on detailed and specific information. BAN Waste believes that Newcastle Council should investigate the details of introducing the proposals of BAN Waste by working with BAN Waste, the workforce, Community Recycling Network and others to bring forward plans for implementation and the costs and benefits involved.

What is clear is that with increased landfill tax, stricter regulations and other possible changes the cost of waste disposal will increase. It is better value for money to ensure that this extra expenditure produces benefits. BAN Waste's policy makes sure that the people of Newcastle gain the benefits of these increase costs by protecting the environment, capturing as much of the valuable resources as possible and providing increased employment.

Some sections of BAN Waste's strategy will cost more than is presently planned by Newcastle Council, while others will cost less. There are also savings involved in BAN Waste's proposals and opportunities to access significant extra funding by taking an innovative approach and working in partnership.

An overall indication of likely future costs is that when Nova Scotia introduced a three stream collection service, largely in line with what BAN Waste proposes, it led to an increase in collection costs of 15% (Friesen, 2002). This is a reasonable sum to pay to protect health and the environment, to reduce the levels going to landfill and to gain the benefits of Resource Recovery businesses.

Kerbside Collection for Recycling

A number of examples of costs for collection are examined in this section. Based on these, with a high level of collection, efficient operation, good marketing of recyclable materials and savings on landfill costs it should be possible to carry out kerbside collection at little or no additional costs compared to present system of collection and disposal to landfill.

The costs of the kerbside collection include largely fixed costs of depot and vehicles and the cost of labour which is more closely linked to the volumes collected. There is also an income to include from the sale of the collected materials and savings in landfills costs.

The SWAP report (2003) gives their estimate of costs for collection, handling and transport of recyclates, including income from the sale of materials collected. SWAP estimate that a weekly collection scheme collecting 7,463 tonnes annually would have a total net cost of £116 per tonne. A fortnightly collection would collect 5,800 tonnes annually and cost £124 per tonne.

There are economies of scale as capital costs such as vehicles and depot will not increase if more households participate in recycling and households recycle more of their waste. There would be a modest increase in total labour costs, although the labour cost per tonne collected would fall with increased recycling. Overall, as more materials are collected and recycling rates improve, the average cost per tonne will fall. Based on SWAP's figures and the economies of scale, a cautious estimate of the costs per tonne to collect recyclable materials would be around £85 per tonne if 24,000 tonnes a year were collected.

SWAP based their cost calculations on a participation rate of 50% of households sorting 50% of their potential recyclable materials. A increase in the total diversion rate from 10% to 20% will cut the cost per tonne collected by between one third and one half (Aylesford, 2000; Biffa, 2002). On SWAP's cost of £116 per tonne this increase in collected would reduce the cost per tonne to between £78 and £58.

Hummel (2002) also makes calculations of the cost of a weekly kerbside collection, including sorting of recyclable materials based on the costs of existing schemes. These range between £122 and £85 per tonne collected depending on the amounts collected per household. On this range of costs it would cost £95 per tonne to collect 240 kilograms per household annually. These figures do not include the cost of the depot, transport to users and the income from the sale of materials. Community Recycling Network estimate that there is a net income of at least £10 per tonne for handling and sale. This would give costs of £85 per tonne, which is close to the figure based on the SWAP report.

Tonnes Collected

Cost (£)

Households

Cost (£) per /tonne

Kilograms per Household

2,229,278

271,505,470

14,975,514

122

149

6,336,868

538,460,785

22,257,707

85

285

National Costs for Kerbside collection of Recyclable Materials (Hummel, 2002)

Newcastle City Council is presently considering proposals for kerbside collection, looking at the options of a contract with a private contractor, and an in-house service provided by the council. These proposals are based on the specifics of Newcastle rather than a general national view of costs.

The private contractor has estimated collecting 10,000 tonnes a year at a cost of £70 per tonne. The in-house proposal outlined by the trade unions estimates collecting 10,000 tonnes a year at a cost of £58 per tonne. Both of these include the cost of the depot and income from sales. In both of these cases, the cost of collection per tonne would be likely to decline when the levels proposed by BAN Waste were achieved.

SWAP

Hummel

Private Contractor

In-house Trade Union

Cost per tonne to collect, handle and income from sales

85

85

70

58

Tonnes

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

Cost of Collection (£)

2,040,000

2,040,000

1,680,000

1,392,000

Comparison of Estimated Costs of Kerbside Collection for Recycling

The cost of landfill is going to increase significantly over the next decade due to the increase in landfill tax by £3 a year from 2005/6 as well as the need to raise standards and the long-term liabilities outlined by Khan (2002). Compared to the present costs of collection of around £26 a tonne (Rowland, 2002) and landfill costs which are likely to be around £60 per tonne by 2006/7, with a possible further rise after that, a collection and treatment cost of £60 per tonne for kerbside collection would compare very favourably

Compost

Collection

As with the collection for recycling, there is a range of estimated costs for collecting organic matter for compost. A review of the figures suggests that it should be possible to collect the amounts BAN Waste is proposing, around 18,000 tonnes, at £60 a tonne.

SWAP (2003) have estimated collecting 5,740 tonnes of garden waste at a cost of £109 per tonne. [lacuna]

[back to contents]

Chapter 6

Doing It

"Newcastle Too Good to Waste"

It Can be Done

Some in the waste industry claim that the most that can be realistically recycled and composted is around 30-40%. A common misquote is a claim that the Environment Agency believe the maximum level of recycling possible is 42% (House of Commons Library, 2002). John Burns (2002) of the Environment Agency stated clearly that,

"Nowhere did the Agency assume a maximum rate of 42 percent."

All over the world cities are recycling and composting over 40% of their municipal waste. Flanders is recycling and composting 62% of its municipal waste, Netherlands 47% and Switzerland 45% (Green Alliance, 2002). The province of Nova Scotia in Canada reached 47% recycling and composting of its household waste in 1999, after less than a decade of effort (Friesen, 2002). Seattle has been over 40% since the mid 1990s. The state of California has diverted 42% of its waste by reduction, recycling and composting, with many cities over 50% (Green Alliance, 2002). Lower Austria is recycling and composting around 60% and Lecco province in Italy has rapidly reached 53% (CRN, 2002)

The Strategy Unit's study (2002) stated that

"Other countries provide successful examples of better waste management. There is much that England can learn from other nations."

The Strategy Unit examined a number of alternative scenarios and concluded that the best option was one based on recycling and composting 45%, a serious drive to reduce waste and more home composting, and the remainder to be treated by incineration, MBT or by other means. But the priority is on resource management concentrating on reduction and recycling. The report believes that with this approach recycling could rise to over 50%.

The Community Recycling Network (2002) states that

"We could soon be in a situation in which more than 60 per cent of household waste is recycled and composted. At the national level, this development could take a decade, though for individual local authorities, it could be achieved more quickly."

The Green Alliance (2002), based on its study of best practice internationally states that

"Targets of recycling 50 per cent of municipal solid waste should be achievable over the next five to seven years."

Jones, of Biffa (2002), stated that a readily achievable goal would be around 10-15% direct to landfill and about 30% recycling, 30% composting and 30% energy recovery which would be either by incineration or MBT to produce biogas, both of which leave a remainder to be landfilled. Jones believed that levels of kerbside recycling of between 18,000 and 28,000 tonnes should be possible in Newcastle. Overall Biffa can achieve a 70-80% diversion from landfill.

SWAP in its report (2003) based its calculations of the levels of collection on the present "standard practice of local authorities in Britain". In contrast, their evidence to the Select Committee (Robb & Stevens, 2002) gave figures as what could be achieved by a high quality system that was innovative and based on a high level of community involvement, similar to that proposed by BAN Waste. The levels achieved by such as system are similar to those that BAN Waste have outlined.

BAN Waste

SWAP High Level Scheme

Kerbside Recycle

24,000

23,220

Kerbside Compost

18,000

23,220

Civic Amenity Site

14,850

13,000

Bring Schemes

5,000

7,130

Re-use (included in other streams by BAN Waste)

4,481

Total

61,850

71,051

Comparison of BAN Waste & SWAP's analysis of Compost, Re-use and Recycling

All of these reports indicate that BAN Waste's proposals are in line with a range of experts' views of what is possible in the next decade or less.

Keys to success

The strategy outlined by BAN Waste is achievable. We need a determination from all parties to make this a reality. We believe that success depends on:

Public Involvement

There is a high level of public support for recycling and composting (BAN Waste, 2002b & Environment Agency 2002). While it may be true that some of the results of opinion polls exaggerate people's actual actions, they do show how people feel. This is what needs to be built upon. Biffa (2002) estimate that there is only around 10% of the population who are a hard core of people completely resistant to recycling. MORI (2002) found a similar very small minority resistant to recycling. Rather than focusing on the reluctant small minority the strategy should give priority to supporting the views of the vast majority. Once the facilities are available and recycling is made easy then it is likely that most people will recycle. An important factor in encouraging recycling will be the influence of public opinion.

"In Nova Scotia, peer pressure was an important factor in building recycling."
(Friesen, 2002)

To gain high public support, there needs to be a system that is convenient and easy to use. The proposals of BAN Waste for a range of convenient ways of collecting materials for composting and recycling provides that system.

Maximising Recycling Rates (CRN, 2002) states that areas of greater deprivation have lower recycling levels than more affluent levels. This is clearly an issue for Newcastle. There are a number of reasons for this lower involvement, which need to be considered in the development of a recycling strategy. Firstly more deprived areas produce less waste (BAN Waste, 2002a) so will produce less material for recycling. In addition the houses are usually smaller, without gardens and garages, so there is less space for storage. This is an important issue and needs to be given consideration in the design of containers and is a reason for a weekly rather than forthrightly collection. The problems that were highlighted with wheelie bins in the Community Events (BAN Waste, 2002b), with them littering streets or back lanes, are due in part to them being introduced without consideration to the practicalities of different housing types. This needs to be avoided with recycling and composting. A third factor is that people in more deprived areas are often more alienated from the council. Therefore a letter announcing kerbside collection for recycling and composting may not gain much support. This is best overcome with real community involvement in the decisions and an active information programme. In some areas of high deprivation recycling has been a success (Murray, 2002).

High levels of support are best achieved by treating the public with respect and working with them in a genuine partnership. The approach should include:

It is sometimes claimed that the low levels of recycling in Britain and the North East are due to some cultural differences of people here compared to Europe or North America. Jones (2002) challenged this stating it is more to do with policies and commitment. Up to now England and Newcastle have not had the systems or political will to support recycling.

"Broadly I don't believe that these cultural differences are that real. This is a function of commitment - the right economic framework, education, sending the right signals and the will. It is not really a function of where you are. Most of the technology that's involved is common to the whole system. Really its down to commitment."
(Jones, 2002)

Friesen (2002) pointed out that North Americans are

"consuming pigs, yet we can recycle".

BAN Waste suggests that there should be a structure for community involvement in the running of Newcastle's waste strategy, perhaps a supervisory board representing a number of stakeholders.

Workforce

An enthusiastic workforce can have a key role in the success of recycling and composting. Whether on the kerbside collection or at Civic Amenity sites, motivated and well-informed staff can provide guidance, information and support to the public.

Sometimes it has been suggested that the idea of community involvement in recycling should include members of the public going out to collect the materials. We agree with Jones (2002) that this is not the best approach. On the one hand the workforce needs to be trained, covered for health and safety and have decent pay and conditions and on the other hand relying on volunteers risks both wearing people out and inconsistency in approach.

"handling waste is a dirty dangerous serious business, its not the sort of thing you do with people who don't necessarily have the right training infrastructures and so on … There are issues around pension funds, … wage rates are the best in the country."
(Jones, 2002)

Of course, properly trained staff with good conditions of employment can be provided by private companies, community based organisations or the public sector.

It is important that the workforce has good pay and conditions; otherwise there will not be the commitment to work with and encourage the public. The lessons of Brighton and Hove Council illustrate both the good and bad way of going about handling waste and staff. The Council privatised its waste management in 1999. Within months the press were reporting a catalogue of disasters, the workforce had passed a vote of no confidence in the management and the Council was highly critical. In less than two years the Council took back the waste management contract with the company paying £3 million in compensation (Davies, 2001). Since then industrial relations have improved and the workforce are much more motivated, the quality of the service has improved and recycling has increased. There is now talk of "a real partnership". The latest move is a training programme for staff as 'green ambassadors' in support of recycling (Brighton & Hove Council, 2002).

The idea of 'green ambassadors' and workers' involvement in the collection of materials was recommended by Dalton (2002). BAN Waste supports such an approach with a trained workforce who are involved in raising awareness both in their day to day work and in reaching out to communities and organisations, perhaps including speaking to schools, community groups, etc. and also providing guided visits to the various parts of the recycling and composting process.

Business

Business, in many sectors, has a role in a new resource recovery approach. There are great opportunities to link Municipal Resource Recovery with collection of materials from business. BAN Waste in its first hearings heard examples of companies interested in such an approach (BAN Waste, 2002a).

The waste industry has a key role. However we would urge them to change their name and self-image from waste disposal to resource recovery. Companies need to improve how they work with communities and elected organisations. They

"need to be there giving transparent and clear advice, and be absolutely clear where [they are] coming from and on what basis [they] are talking."
(Jones, 2002)

BAN Waste has raised concerns previously about company secrets and the claim that contracts, even after being signed, are 'commercially confidential' and how this can damage trust and democratic accountability. We have also expressed concerns about long-term contracts that lock councils into strategies and with business when circumstances are likely to need flexibility (BAN Waste, 2002a). This need for flexibility was repeated by Jones (2002) and Murray (2002).

Where the private sector take on contracts they can provide skills and expertise but they must also take responsibility for any risks.

"Our obligations are we will achieve the statutory requirements, that covers health, safety, diversion and everything else. The sting in the tail is, that if signed up to divert 50% and only divert 45% then the [company] are liable."
(Jones, 2002)

It is important that any private sector company also has the right approach. Many in the industry still have an attitude of waste disposal.

"Business needs to be done by people who are committed to resource recovery not waste disposal."
(Murray, 2002)

Some companies still believe that the way to make money is by waste disposal rather than resource recovery. Dalton (2002) stated a warning

"Beware of a kerbside collection strategy that is set up to fail as big waste disposal companies are more interested in incineration - they can make more money."

An important opportunity for business in the region is the use of the resources in expanding existing businesses and creating new ones. This is also an important role for the Regional Development Agency, ONE North East. The New Economic Strategy recognises that

"The global market for environmental products and services is huge. Business opportunities in this market will be pursued through the Environment Industries Cluster."
(ONE, 2002)

Council

Newcastle Council has a fundamental role in any change in the ways of dealing with waste. They are the legally responsible body and, whether the system is run by the council or on its behalf, the council determines the strategy, its aims, its character and the terms of its operation.

The Council has to decide whether it wants to continue with a waste disposal outlook and the standard approach, which may reach the national targets but not be a leader in Britain. In contrast, it can decide to change to a policy based on resource recovery and the aims outlined by the Strategy Unit (2002), and put Newcastle at the front of policies for the 21st century. BAN Waste would urge the council to take the more challenging, but rewarding path of resource recovery.

The first step is a change of outlook, to an aim of resource recovery and the efforts, of political will and human and financial resources, should focus on these as the priority. This means a suitable mix of tools to collect resources via kerbside collection, Civic Amenity sites, bulky collections and bring schemes. It means actively co-operating with the people of Newcastle, the workforce and the users of the materials. Newcastle Council is

"Trying very hard to develop frameworks, structures and process to engage the community … rationally we have come from a functional background … we are learning to work with communities …but the gap in resource terms is enormous … the skills and capacity don't exist … [we] continue to recruit, train and develop."
(Rowland, 2002)

We recognise this would be a dramatic change from the past where waste management was viewed largely as technical issue with the aim to collect and dispose of waste in the most efficient and economic manner. Resource recovery involves much more social awareness as it is dealing with motivating people, the public and staff, to capture resources.

Councils, including Newcastle, are short of cash but a forward looking council can tap into a resource as valuable as money - the skills, energy and abilities of people. If Newcastle council decides to work with the city's citizens and workforce to achieve a vision for the future it would discover, as Nova Scotia has, that this is a powerful force for change.

Nova Scotia: An Inspiring Example

One of the most inspirational witnesses of the Select Committee was Barry Friesen, Solid Waste-Resource Manager of Nova Scotia. He was enthusiastic about his work and proud of the achievements of his team and the people of Nova Scotia. The province in a few years went from virtually no recycling to 50%, with the main city Halifax achieving 60% (SWAP, 2003). The policy was adopted because of strong public pressure to reduce the many polluting landfill sites but not to use incineration as the alternative. Even modern landfill sites such as the new one opened in 1978 near the main city, Halifax, failed.

"It was claimed to be well designed with good protection. But it leaked leachate into the ground and surface water as the installed plant only handled one quarter of the leachate. The place stunk and released methane gas."
(Friesen, 2002)

These experiences all had an impact on the public who wanted change.

"There was extensive independent public consultation [and] the final strategy incorporated the views of the people and was therefore well supported."
(Friesen, 2002)

The province adopted a new strategy in 1995, with the main theme of

"Nova Scotia is Too Good to Waste."

It is based on two

"Principles of environmental protection and economic development."

Nova Scotia has

" moved from waste management to resource recovery, with jobs being number one here."
(Friesen, 2002)

The core of the system is separate collection from households of organics, recyclables and garbage (residue). The province has also introduced bans on some materials going to landfill, systems to deal with household hazardous materials and linked the system with collections from businesses. There has been an active policy of industrial development to use the materials recovered.

The result has been a success.

"The basis of success was public support, make it easy and very public, 'in your face'."

"The most satisfying thing is that the public feel proud of the achievement - feel doing something that matters and useful."
(Friesen, 2002)

We would urge Newcastle Council to adopt the outlook of Nova Scotia. This would mean the Council showing the same commitment and vision to developing a resource recovery strategy as it has shown to the Capital of Culture bid.

BAN Waste recognises that a shift to the strategy outlined here would be a challenge for Newcastle Council and the people of the city. However, the high recycling and composting levels outlined are possible and there are great rewards for the city if it sets out with confidence and determination to achieve these aims. BAN Waste urges Newcastle Council to avoid the approach of making do and following others; instead we believe that Newcastle can be a leader in Britain.

Newcastle, like Nova Scotia, is Too Good to Waste.

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Chapter 7

Benefits of BAN Waste's Strategy

Facing the Future - Be Ahead of the Game

The future is always uncertain. However, every trend in public opinion, environmental protection and economics points towards a future where we would no longer have a waste strategy; we would have a resource recovery strategy instead. Newcastle is presently discussing its waste strategy for the next 20-25 years. This strategy must be designed to cope with future changes. Although the details of the future are unknown, any reasonable look ahead can see further directives from Europe and British legislation that will push society to reduce waste, treat what waste that is produced as a resource and to minimise negative impacts on health and the environment. This requires the strategy to be flexible and not tie up large sums of money in fixed plant that require large capital spending - such as an incinerator.

The present strategy proposed by Newcastle may struggle to reach the government's recycling targets. The SWAP report (2003) suggests that kerbside collection for recycling in Newcastle based on "standard practice of local authorities in Britain", which is in line with the Council's present proposals, would be likely to achieve around 5,800 tonnes on a fortnightly collection as the Council plans. This casts serious doubts on whether, on the basis of the Councils' present plans, the stated goal of collecting between 10% and 15% of waste, 13,000 to 20,000 tonnes will be achieved. If SWAP's estimates are correct, then it would make reaching a total recycling level of 25% difficult by the presently proposed strategy. BAN Waste urges a different approach from "standard practice of local authorities in Britain".

BAN Waste recommends a different strategy; one that is based on resource recovery. This would not only ensure that the city complies with future minimum requirements but it puts Newcastle ahead of the game, a leader in resource recovery. This offers real advantages to the city with an improved environment, greater economic activity, popular support and enhancement of the city's reputation.

Future Perfect (Biffa, 2002) outlines some of the likely changes that our handling of waste/resources will face in the future including

Legislation

The legislation and directives covering waste are changing. There can be no doubt that they are moving towards high levels of recycling and composting as well as reduction in the total amount of waste produced. This means that there are likely to be increasing barriers to the use of landfill and incineration. The Strategy Unit (2002) has urged the government to aim for recycling and composting levels of 35% by 2010 and 45% by 2015. The present targets for Newcastle are significantly lower, with the aim of being over 25% by 2010 and over 30% by 2015 (Rowland, 2002).

Newcastle's Aim

Strategy Unit

2010

25%+

35%

2015

30%+

45%

Comparison of Targets for Recycling and Composting: Newcastle Council and Strategy Unit

Based on the SWAP report (2002) there are doubts as to whether Newcastle Council's present strategy would achieve the recycle targets the Council is aiming for. If the Strategy Unit's proposals are adopted Newcastle would risk struggling to reach them if it sticks to its present proposed strategy. BAN Waste's strategy would exceed the higher targets proposed by the Strategy Unit.

Landfill

The government has announced its intention to increase landfill tax to £35 per tonne by 2015 (Treasury, 2002).

The Strategy Unit (2002) proposes that the government should

"Review the case for a ban on the landfilling of recyclable products in 2006/7"

The cost of landfill and the restrictions placed on its use are certain to increase, so BAN Waste's policy aims to reduce landfill and ensure that which goes to landfill is safe and inert.

Incineration

The Strategy Unit (2002) proposes that the government should

"consider the case for a ban [in 2006/7] on incinerating recyclable products".

As quoted earlier Jones (2002), a Director of Biffa, believes that there should be a tax on incineration as does the Environment Agency (2001) and MPs (House of Commons, 2001).

In recent years the legislation on incineration has been made much tighter, which resulted in the closure of several plants. As Khan (2002) pointed out, it is possible in the next few years there will be a further tightening in legislation which will either require significant and expensive upgrading of plant or their closure.

There is a real concern that an incinerator will compete with high levels of recycling and composting. Once an incinerator has been built, at large expense, it needs to be fed for years to repay the investment (Whitney, 2002). This demand is mainly for the very materials that are most suitable for recycling and composting as will burn - paper, card, plastic and some organic matter. In addition, if a lot of money has been tied up in an incinerator there is less to invest in the collection and treatment of materials to recycle and compost. If Newcastle opts for incineration, it may face a future conflict between incineration and higher recycling and composting targets.

BAN Waste's policy does not include incineration so avoids the likely future restrictions on operation, release of pollutants or what can be incinerated and probable future taxation. It also saves on the large capital costs of an incinerator, thus freeing money for other activities, and avoids the risk of litigation due to health problems or serious failure of an incinerator.

Compost

The clean composting of organic matter is moving up the political agenda both in order to reduce waste (Strategy Unit, 2002) and to improve the quality of soil. The EU Directive on BioWaste will come into force, probably by 2010 (Murray, 2002), and require the collection and composting of organic matter to produce a high quality material suitable for use on agricultural land and gardens (European Commission, 2001)

There is a growing insistence that only high quality material can be classed as compost to be used in gardens and farming (European Commission, 2001). The Strategy Unit (2002) proposes that the government

"should continue to encourage the development of quality standards for compost".

BAN Waste's strategy results in high quality compost that can be used on gardens and in agriculture. This will comply with likely future legislation and could provide revenue from the sale of compost.

In contrast Newcastle's present strategy proposes the treatment of 25,000 tonnes of mixed waste. There is uncertainty about the quality of the material that can be produced from mixed waste. There are serious doubts about whether it is possible to separate waste after it is mixed so that it is not contaminated with plastics, glass, heavy metals and other chemicals. According to John Buckham, Newcastle Council Officer, Head of Energy & Waste (Buckham, 2003) the product must be of a high enough standard to be classed as compost and the mechanical sorting of the mixed waste will remove all the impurities. However Rowland described it as "grey composted" (Rowland, 2002), with the aim of "stabilisation" which would not produce compost of as high a quality as proposed by BAN Waste and that it is a recovery process rather than recycling and composting.

If the glass, plastics, heavy metals, etc cannot be removed then the result cannot be classed as compost as it will be contaminated and will not be suitable for gardens or agriculture. In effect it is only a treatment before landfill.

"Compost must be up to the quality guidelines … Pre-sorting of materials was important to producing compost, the product from mixed waste causes concern it may only be suited to landfill … 'Grey compost' was actually pre-treatment for landfill."
(Burns, 2002)

"The proposed product of treating mixed waste, 'grey compost', is not likely to meet the standards for compost."
(Dalton, 2002)

If the process only produces 'grey compost' than it will not count towards recycling targets nor offer wider benefits. The best way to produce good quality compost is by keeping the organic matter separate from other materials. This is best achieved by separate collection which is in line with the policy outlined by the Strategy Unit (2002).

Other waste

There are a host of EU directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), batteries, compost, etc in the pipeline (Khan, 2002). All of these have implications for Newcastle. A waste strategy that is not flexible because it has invested large sums of money and is locked into an expensive incinerator and turning organic matter into landfill cover rather than compost will make compliance with these new directives very difficult. Instead the council should look ahead to the future. In order to best cope with the future the council should now aim to be a leader in Britain in recycling and composting. This is best achieved by concentrating investment and human resources, now, on

"reducing waste at source, segregation of waste at source, concentrate on biodegradable waste and concentrate treatment on recycling."
(Khan, 2002)

BAN Waste's strategy aims to keep potential hazardous and harmful household waste separate from the general waste. It also provides a platform to successfully cope with future legislation on specific products and to work with producers with their recycling responsibilities. This could be an additional employment opportunity.

Waste Composition

The composition of waste is changing and will continue to do so. It is also possible that in the future there will be more integration between municipal waste and other waste streams (Biffa, 2002; Jones 2002). A flexible system, such as BAN Waste's strategy, is best able to cope satisfactorily with these future changes.

Trade Waste

The development of the strategy outlined by BAN Waste would allow increased integration between the recovery of resources from households and the businesses sector. The infrastructure established to deal with households could readily expand to deal with materials from business, much of which is readily recycled, composted and re-used. This would allow further savings in landfill costs, possible income form business, increased economies of scale and further wider benefits for society and the city.

Changes in technology

The licensing for waste handling plant is based on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPCC) which stipulates that plants are required to use the best environmental technology available. Khan (2002) warned that as technology improves the quality of plants must improve as well, so there will be constant upgrades.

"What this means is that if anywhere in the world that technology is available then it must be used here … so you can forget about the standards now, the standards are only guidelines. If your plant or incinerator, if you are not complying with the best technology because at the time [it was built] it was not available, now the technology has become available the [Environment] Agency will modify your permit and require you to do this"

This process of constant upgrading could be very expensive for an incinerator or even make it obsolete well before the end of its planned life.

Jobs

"There are 10 times more jobs in recycling than disposal."
(Friesen, 2002)

The full benefits of BAN Waste's proposals could result in 500 to 1,000 jobs for Newcastle both in direct collection and handling and in new downstream treatments and processing of materials.

The SWAP report (2002) calculates that there would be between 170 and 300 extra jobs, including trainees, just in direct jobs created in the collection, handling and some treatments, if the strategy they outline was implemented. There would be a wide variety of jobs. The jobs of collecting materials, either from the kerbside or at the Resource Recovery Centres, would be higher status and more rewarding than the usual cleansing jobs as the staff would be green ambassadors interacting with the public. There would also be drivers, administration workers and mangers. The re-use proposals would provide skilled jobs and training opportunities.

Nova Scotia in Canada went from virtually no recycling to 50% recycling and composting in a few years. The province not only ensured that materials were collected but that the economic benefits of these resources were realised by the local people with new industries and employment. Among the new uses for recycled materials are:

(Nova Scotia Department of Environment, 2000)

Nova Scotia gained employment benefits in both direct jobs and in secondary jobs in the downstream handling and processing of recycled materials. This downstream employment could include a wide range of new jobs in processing plants dealing with paper, glass or plastics.

If Newcastle Council worked with neighbouring councils and ONE North East there would be an opportunity for significant job provision in an economic sector that has a long-term future.

"European nations with advanced resource efficiency policies have the strongest employment and technology profiles for a buoyant world market."
(Biffa, 2002)

Sustainability

Newcastle Council is part of a European-wide review of the sustainability of cities being carried out by the cities themselves, Peer Review for European Sustainable Urban Development (PRESUD). It recently made a report on Newcastle (Presud, 2002). While making some positive comments it highlighted waste as an area of concern,

"Waste - a key issue, you have a long way to go."

It highlighted issues in detail including:

The report suggested that the Council needs to improve its Community engagement including "Working with communities of interest" and commented favourably on the work of BAN Waste. If the Council adopted the recommendations of BAN Waste it would make a real difference in answering all of these questions raised by other European cities.

The council has an opportunity to move to sustainability, improve the environment, create new jobs, have a source of renewable energy and really work with local citizens.

Public Opinion

Incineration is deeply unpopular. As BAN Waste found in it first hearings, even those in favour of incineration acknowledged the strong opposition and felt they would prefer not to live next door to one (BAN Waste, 2002). These same views came over clearly in BAN Waste's Community Events. In contrast, there is much higher support for recycling and composting.

A decision by Newcastle Council to go ahead with the construction of an incinerator would provoke strong public opposition, as Rowland (2002) recognised in his evidence. If on the other hand the Council goes for high levels of recycling and composting it would gain public support.

Strengthening Democracy and Community Involvement

Key concerns for local government are to strengthen local democracy, the public's involvement in decision-making and community cohesion. The strategy outlined by BAN Waste would gain wide public support and, with the recycling partnership board proposed, would enable direct community involvement in public service delivery and operations. This approach would fit well with the government's strategy of partnership, community cohesion and improving services.

Newcastle's Reputation

Newcastle is working to gain a reputation as a leading European city. Although environment may not rank as high as culture and entertainment in this strategy it can still play an important role. It is widely recognised that both residents and visitors are aware of the quality of the environment. As well as increased plants and cleaning in the city centre, the city's environment covers much more. Incineration will not enhance the city's reputation.

A strategy based on resource recovery will improve Newcastle's image, reputation and cleanliness of its streets. Good waste management, treating waste as resource,

"Sends appropriate signals to the public about valuing the local environment and can help both to reduce anti-social behaviour, such as fly-tipping and litter, and to improve local liveability."
(Strategy Unit, 2002)

BAN Waste's strategy will also increase public awareness of the volume and production of waste, which will aid a shift towards reduction and the use of recycled goods. All of this would have benefits for the quality of life in the city as well as saving the council money.

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Chapter 8

Wider Changes

This Report has concentrated on the key changes that Newcastle Council and its citizens need to make to shift the city from a wasteful to a resourceful policy. The Interim Report (BAN Waste 2002a) made more detailed comments on national and regional policy and the Final Report will also return to this subject. The core of the changes outlined in this report can be implemented by the city without action by other bodies. However to make the most of a shift to a resource recovery policy the actions of the city should be supported by others.

National Action

The Strategy Unit (2002) outlines a number of changes the government should make including:

BAN Waste supports all of these actions.

In Nova Scotia the use of regulations to ban certain materials from landfill had a positive impact (Friesen, 2002). In Nova Scotia and other areas of North America and Europe a deposit scheme on drinks containers has proved most effective. This is not in the Strategy Unit's list of proposals, but BAN Waste would urge that it is considered in future policy reviews.

The development of markets for recyclable materials and compost is important. However, there are already markets for most materials including steel, aluminium, paper, textiles and plastics.

"Alcan is importing recycled aluminium cans from abroad as it cannot get enough from the UK."
(Whitney, 2002)

"Paper is being purchased for at least £35 per tonne, in some cases higher."
(Murray, 2002)

Region

There are clear economic opportunities in the developing of a resource recovery industry. This can be most effectively done with coordination at a regional level. The volume of resources produced by one local authority is unlikely to be enough to base an industry on. However the amounts that the North East will be producing if it adopts the strategy urged by the North East's Regional Technical Advisory Board (RTAB) on waste with a shift to "treating waste as a resource" (Warburton, 2002) would be the basis for industries in the region.

ONE North East should consider its role in integrating policy to achieve sustainable development with economic, environmental and social benefits. The encouragement of resource recovery industries provides an ideal opportunity.

Need to shift to view of resources regionally … a paper mill in the region would be a big step forward … the Regional Development Agency could consider."
(Rowland, 2002)

There are a number of centres of excellence in the region, one on the use of resources would be a valuable contribution as would encouraging a resource recovery cluster (Warburton, 2002).

Even if nationally the government does not shift public agencies to purchase recycled goods the North East could decide to be a pioneer

"The public sector has a key role in making change, with ~30% of North East's economy being the public sector, its actions can stimulate markets."
(Warburton, 2002)

ONE North East and the North East Assembly could challenge all the public sector bodies in the region to adopt a purchase policy which encourages recycling.

Reduction

This report has concentrated on the shift from waste disposal to resource recovery. It has not dealt with the reducing the amount of packaging and other waste in the first place. BAN Waste believes that this is a crucial area where action is needed with the lead being given by central government and business.

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Chapter 9

Summary

We Have To Change

The need to protect the environment for ourselves and future generations means we have to stop throwing away mountains of waste and creating pollution that is damaging to health and the environment. We have to move from waste disposal to resource recovery.

British and European law states that we have to recycle and compost more. These laws are going to become stricter in the future. There is already a sharply increasing tax on landfill. There is likely to be bans on landfilling some materials, a tax on incineration and requirements to produce clean compost. Newcastle at the moment only recycles 4% of all its waste. It has to change!

A Policy for Now and Future

BAN Waste has outlined a policy that meets present government targets and likely future ones. It is based on high levels of recycling and composting and the safe treatment of materials to produce clean compost and energy and inert matter to landfill. The Council's proposed policy, which includes incineration and landfilling active waste, may not meet present targets and will struggle with future legislation.

BAN Waste's policy is based on what other cities in Europe and North America are already doing. BAN Waste want Newcastle to be a leader in resource recovery in Britain. The Council's proposed strategy will not do this.

An Affordable Policy

BAN Waste's policy is affordable and the overall costs are similar to what the Council plans to spend. BAN Waste's policy would allow access to additional funds that are only available to community partnerships.

Benefits

As well as meeting government targets, BAN Waste's policy would also:

Doing It

To realise the aims of BAN Waste requires

There needs to be a detailed investigation of these proposals with the involvement of the council, the workforce, BAN Waste and other community groups and stakeholders.

Nova Scotia reached 50% recycling in less than 10 years by involving the public. The change has created jobs and raised the confidence of people there. BAN Waste believes that like Nova Scotia, Newcastle is too Good to Waste.

References

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Appendix 1: Select Committee Witnesses

Day 1, September 23, 2002

Day 2, October 3, 2002

Day 3, October 9, 2002

Day 4, October 14, 2002

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Appendix 2: Membership of Select Committee

Chairs

Each of the four hearings had a different chair. This allowed a wider involvement in the Select Committee, building links between the Select Committee and other organisations.

Sept. 23

David Malone

Children's Warehouse Newcastle, Director

Oct. 3

Bob Stewart

Newcastle Healthy City Project, Chief Executive, Member BAN Waste

Oct. 9

Jim Cousins

Member of Parliament for Newcastle Central

Oct. 14

Richard Adams

Member of the Economic and Social Committee, Director of Contraflow

Members

Val Barton

Byker Resident

Jo Bourne

West End Resident

John Buckham

Newcastle Cityworks, Head of Energy & Waste Management

Phil Capon

Newcastle Local Authority UNISON

Bill Colwell

Newcastle Council for the Protection of Rural England, East End Resident

Sylvia Conway

Newcastle Women's Institute, Newcastle Resident

Nick Fray

East End Resident

Will Haughan

Newcastle Cityworks, General Manager

Frances Hinton

Acting Chair of Children's' Warehouse

Bill Hopwood

Byker Resident

Helen Kelly

Byker Resident

Eric Landau

Kenton Resident

Jenni Madison

Byker Resident

Steve Manchee

Green Activist

Roger Mould

Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services

Harold Norcott

Community Action on Health

Carolyn Spencer

St Peter's Basin Resident

Bob Stewart

Newcastle Healthy City Project, Chief Executive

Geoff Stokle

East End resident

June Wolf

Newcastle Resident, Allotment gardener

The core membership of the Select Committee is from 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 invite a number of citywide organisations to nominate one of their members to join the Select Committee.

We approached:

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Glossary