BAN Waste Select Committee evidence

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Phase 1 Day 5 2001-10-11 Richard Boden (Wyecycle, Kent)

report from minutes of Select Committee

Wyecycle, Kent - Richard Boden

Submitted : background document to the historical development of Wyecycle (for copy see original minutes).

The Chairman welcomed Richard Boden and asked him to make his presentation. Richard Boden, Managing Director of Wyecycle Ltd indicated that Wyecycle was a not for profit community business based in the village of Wye in Kent. It was formed in 1989 as a voluntary experiment and developed to the point where they were now four full time and 2 part time staff with a turnover of �80,000. It was obvious that this was a small community business although he believed that it was the longest running multi material kerbside collection including kitchen / garden organics in the UK. Although small the principles adopted held good for 100 households or 1,000 households.

In concluding his presentation Richard Boden set out the following key messages:-

Ten tips for Success:-

1. Treat kitchen and garden organics as two totally different organic waste streams;

2. Collect all kitchen organic material (cooked food, meats and fish);

3. Collect 2 above on a weekly basis;

4. Don't provide a wheelie bin for garden organic materials - too big for some of the year and too small for the rest;

5. Don't collect garden material free of charge - discourages hand composting;

6. Ban garden material from mixed waste stream;

7. Don't collect residual waste weekly - encourages participation in reducing waste;

8. Take a realistic view - can't look at waste in isolation - waste problem can only be solved by looking at food production, distribution, planning and transportation policies - cutting waste is a means to an end towards creating a sustainable society;

9. Take the long view - 30 years ago domestic waste was totally different from today and in 30 years time it will be very different. Need to be totally flexible towards change;

10. If you want to think 1 year ahead plant rice - if you want to think 10 years ahead plant trees - and if you want to think 100 years ahead educate people and take the public with you.

A question and answer session ensued.

(1) Can you tell us whether the reduction in the waste stream from the tonnages you collect bring about any reduction in Council's costs and Council tax or whether this money is transferred within the Council budget to the credits you are given? (Eric Landau)

In answer Richard Boden indicated that the service provided cost �50k per annum (�1 per house per week). The funding came from a number of sources including :-

The service operated on a cost neutral basis - no cost to the Council tax payer.

(2) How can you best reach those people most resistant to recycling? (June Wolf)

In answer he said that the "swap day" drew many people into the waste scheme. It helped to inform them of the benefits both social and environmental of the service. Leaflets were circulated to the community twice a year saying thank you and advising of the schemes details and requirements.

(3) The Appropriate Recycling Systems in small communities may differ from those in large City's. Should a City be approached as a group of Communities? (June Wolf)

Richard Boden responded that a sense of community was vital and that "the Community size made good sense in terms of logistics." Organic materials for instance should not be carted long distances and large bulk could be difficult. One thousand households appeared to be a good self sustaining unit but in terms of the overall system could be replicated many times. Jenni Madison asked whether Wyecycle helped with the "nasties" to which he replied that they went into landfill at present. However careful consideration was given to various elements of residual waste and was dealt with as follows:-

He emphasised that the things that remain within the residual waste stream had to be identified given a name and then dealt with one by one. Landfill was the best place for it at present.

The Chair asked about the DEFRA regulations regarding meat etc and Richard indicated that although having made an immediate approach to DEFRA for clarification no response had been received.

Responding to the Chair, Richard confirmed that his system did not have temperature control and therefore the composting of the organic materials was a slow process although there were no problems with smell.

In response from a question from Eric Landau, Richard indicated that income from recycled materials was as follows:-

The only material he had to pay for to get rid of was ferrous metal.

(4) In the case of Wyecycle you appear to have concentrated on solutions rather than problems and have put energies into that area. Would that also work for the City and how much resources would it take? (Jenni Madison)

Richard commented that it was essential to listen closely to the people in the Communities and to think your way through. The process is easier now because the legislative drive exists and waste is a big environmental problem and could not be ignored any longer.

The Chair asked why other villages had not joined the scheme and Richard indicated that primarily because it was not always easy to get the co-operation of Kent County Council and the district Councils but these barriers could well be overcome in the near future.

In answering a further question from the Chair Richard indicated that Wyecycle's targets were ahead of the County Councils because of the minimisation of waste policy. He also thought the targets were inappropriate. Government targets should be based on residual waste going into the collection service.

Nick Fray enquired why kitchen and garden materials were separated, both being organic, to which Richard responded that kitchen waste (fish, meat and food) were taken out because they were treated with greater control than garden waste.

At the end of the question and answer session the Chair thanked Richard Boden for his contribution.