Posts Tagged ‘carbon emmissions’

Welsh councils encouraged to reveal end markets

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The Welsh Assembly Government is urging councils to divulge where their recyclable materials are sent for reprocessing after rejecting proposals to make this a legal obligation.

Jane Davidson, environment minister, WAG

Jane Davidson, environment minister, WAG

 We must stop thinking of waste as something we need to dispose of and start thinking of it as a resource

Jane Davidson, environment minister, WAG 

The WAG is encouraging the 22 local authorities in Wales to make use of amendments to the waste database WasteDataFlow to report a range of end markets for recovered material – as opposed to just one destination as was the case in the past.

The mechanism to do this will be also be available to councils in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland when it comes into effect to report data for the period October to December 2010. This data will be made available in March 2011.

The WAG had previously considered proposals to make local authorities legally obligated to report end markets for material to encourage transparency and encourage material to be reprocessed locally.

However, plans tabled by Assembly Member Nerys Evans in February 2008 were criticised for the potential cost involved and loss of competitive advantage (see story).

The new amendments to WasteDataFlow have no binding obligation for councils to report the outcomes.

A spokeswoman for the WAG told that councils would be “encouraged” to make use of the opportunity as there is “no big stick” in the form of penalties backing up the initiative.

Environment minister Jane Davidson, who had supported Ms Evans’ attempts to drive councils to reveal end markets, welcomed this latest move to encourage councils to offer greater transparency over their recycling.

She said: “We must stop thinking of waste as something we need to dispose of and start thinking of it as a resource. By keeping as much as possible of this waste in Wales local authorities can generate much-needed funds, while Welsh industries won’t need to look overseas for raw materials.

“It is still better to recycle overseas than to landfill at home. But it is greener and makes more financial sense to process recycling here in Wales where Welsh local authorities, businesses and jobs can benefit.”


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Proposals for greater transparency around recycling appeared again in the Wales Municipal Waste Sector Plan – which is intended to feed into the Towards Zero Waste strategy for Wales. In the Sector Plan, it was identified that there was a need for local authorities to “report more accurately”.

Under the previous WasteDataFlow system, councils had to report the final destination of their waste which was categorised by facility type. However, under the new system, councils will be able to put a company and site name against the end location for the material in the question.

The WAG, Environment Agency Wales and the Welsh Local Government Association are working closely with local authorities to help them to make the most of the new system.

Councils call for powers to charge for waste services

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The government should consider giving councils more powers to charge for waste and recycling services and to fine residents for failing to recycle as part of its review of waste policy of England, according to local authority recycling officers.

In its response to the government’s call for evidence for the review, which ended last week (October 7), the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), said it believed that local authorities were generally best placed to decide how to deliver waste services in their area, which it claimed fitted well with the government’s localism agenda

Giving councils powers to fine residents for failing to recycle was among the measures suggested by LARAC

Giving councils powers to fine residents for failing to recycle was among the measures suggested by LARAC


But, it warned that a combination of reduced targets for individual councils, financial constraints and the separation of waste from carbon drivers could reduce recycling service provision.


“Unless these issues are addressed by the government, ‘localism’ without appropriate drivers will reduce the incentive for some communities to increase recycling,” LARAC said.

The issue of how councils can improve their recycling performance in the current economic climate and how the waste review will impact on this is set to be one of the key topics addressed at next month’s LARAC Conference and Celebration Awards, which are being held in Liverpool on November 3 and 4.

Writing to the body’s members this week, LARAC chair Joy Blizzard said: “There is little sign that life in the public sector is going to get any easier, which is why the entire focus of LARAC 2010 is how to deliver recycling in the most efficient way possible.”


In its response to the review, LARAC said that, among the new powers government should consider for councils were to be able to make charges for waste management and recycling services, which it claimed would make the decision on charges “locally democratically accountable”.

It also highlighted the role that additional powers could play in achieving the waste review’s aim of minimising illegal waste activity, claiming that: “To fully embrace a zero waste concept suitable sanctions are needed against those that continue to undermine LA’s and local communities recycling efforts.”

“In this respect, additional powers would be welcomed that encourage recycling, perhaps for use of the fixed penalty scheme for failure to recycle, or to place correct materials in the correct bins.

“Local authorities would use these powers only as a last resort, however,” it added.

LARAC said that, in this area, the government should also give councils new powers to “sequester” revenues from enforcement actions, alongside a general increase in penalties for environmental crime.


LARAC 2010 CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITIONThe implications of the waste review for councils will be among the major issues up for discussion at next month’s LARAC 2010 Conference and Celebration Awards.  The conference is being held at Liverpool’s ACC on November 3 and 4, with the prestigious celebration awards and dinner being held on the evening of November 3 at Liverpool’s historic St George’s Hall.  To book a place at the event, please click here or call Sabreena Kaur on 0207 6334500

In its response, LARAC also advocated that the government should take an approach to incentives for recycling which would reflect its philosophy of localism.

It claimed that, in light of this, “local authorities are best placed to respond to local needs, perceptions and opportunities, and should be given powers to respond to these, including powers to choose what incentives are most appropriate for their communities”.

The coalition has been a strong supporter of the ‘carrot’ rather than the ‘stick’ approach for incentives, endorsing the US-devised recycling rewards scheme RecycleBank (see story), while also proposing to remove councils’ ability to run ‘pay-as-you-throw’ schemes (see story).

LARAC gave qualified support for the government’s approach, stating that: “In general LARAC support the concept of ‘rewards’ as a motivational tool but recognises that they do not incentivise everyone. There is also a danger that such schemes may become incentives for people to consume more.”

The association has already expessed its concern over the government’s apparent support for one scheme ahead of alternative ways of encouraging recycling (see story)


Among the areas of concern or in need of action that LARAC also highlighted in its response were:

  • To define ‘zero waste’ fully to avoid confusion with ‘zero waste to landfill’ – LARAC said the term ‘working towards zero waste’ would be more appropriate;
  • The need for further measures to encourage investment in waste treatment and recycling as PFI comes to an end;
  • Support for using skills and knowledge from private sector organisations and local communities to undertake roles traditionally carried out by public sector bodies – such as incentivising groups to bring fly-tippers to justice;
  • Changing licencing for civic amenity sites to encourage their use for trade waste as well;
  • Ensuring that any voluntary producer responsibility deals are monitored and reviewed to make sure they are not compromised by ‘freeriders’;
  • Removing regulatory barriers to re-use and developing re-use networks;
  • Making sure waste policy is “more closely aligned” with policies on health promotions and social exclusion – such as a link between healthy eating and food waste reduction.

LARAC’s response also sees it echo concerns raised by other local authority figures about the effect that a move away from alternate weekly collections could have on both council costs and recycling rates (see story).

When the government published the terms of reference for the waste review in July 2010, it said it would work with councils to increase the “frequency and quality” of collections (see story).

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But, in its response, LARAC warned that “any imposed move away from systems such as AWC, back to traditional weekly residual waste collections would not only raise significant budget pressures at a time where reducing the fiscal deficit is a key priority, but would also go against the localism agenda and could only have a detrimental effect on waste minimisation and recycling rates.”

The government is set to publish the first results of the waste review next spring.

Study shows mercury risk in flat panel recycling

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The presence of mercury in flat panel displays, such as laptop monitors and LCD TVs, has thrown up potential health and safety issues in a WRAP-commissioned study into the technical and commercial potential for recycling the items.



The research, which was carried out by environmental consultancy Axion Consulting, aims to help WRAP understand the recycling outlets for flat panel displays (FPDs), as there are currently no automated commercial processes in the UK and Europe.


However, due to an increased uptake in items, WRAP anticipates that the number of FPDs in the WEEE waste stream will rise “dramatically” in the next few years, requiring a suitable recycling outlet.

In particular the trial looked at the presence of mercury in the cold compact fluorescent light in the ‘backlighting’ system for LCD TVs, laptop computers and desktop monitors. The existence of this mercury means that end-of-life FPDs are classed as hazardous waste.

The study took the form of four demonstration trials. The first looked at the manual disassembly of FPDs, then the shredding of FPDs, the optical sorting of shredded FPDs using TiTech optical sorting technology and mercury decontamination.

The manual disassembly, which took place at Bruce Metals in South Yorkshire, was intended to remove the mercury content from the FPDs. The stripping of the items also allowed the researchers to investigate the potential harm and exposure of workers in a commercial operation.


Mercury remained a key issue throughout the trial, with it being stated that there were a number of backlight breakages in the manual disassembly element of the trial. And, as the trial was undertaken without significant time pressures, it was suggested that a commercial operation would face a higher level of backlight breakages.

The conclusion of the WRAP study highlighted that employees at an FPD recycling facility would be subjected to levels of mercury “higher than is acceptable”. However, it suggested that this could be reduced with personal protective equipment and local extract ventilation.

Furthermore a suitable washing medium to remove mercury from the FPD items could be not found in the trial, with results from the large-scale trial proving inconclusive. And, even under laboratory conditions, there was an uncertainty as to whether mercury could be completely washed from the shredded FPDs.

In a bid to improve on this, the researchers then used Aqua Regia – a strong acid – to attempt to remove mercury from the FPDs. The acid removed more than the water washing technique but only 56% of mercury added to the shredded material could be accounted for in output fraction.

The research concluded that more work would need to be done to establish a wash capable of removing high levels of mercury in a commercial process, as well as a greater understanding of where the washed mercury goes and alternative methods for its removal.


Addressing the potential for delivering a large-scale FPD recycling facility, the research states that a 20,000 tonnes-a-year capacity facility would potentially cost £3.798 million to develop, which would be capable of processing five tonnes of FPDs each hour.

It said the plant could consist of:

  • A three-shaft shredder;
  • 8mm flip-flop sieve to remove the fines;
  • Mercury washing stage to recovery mercury;
  • Dryer to dry the shred prior to separation;
  • Air ballistic unit to remove the thin films;
  • Magnet to remove ferrous metals;
  • Eddy current system to remove non-ferrous metals and circuit boards;
  • TiTech x-tract machine to remove glass/film composite; and
  • TiTech PolySort to separate polymers

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WRAP – FPD study


However, the study claimed that there were issues relating to capture rate of plastics found in FPDs, with near-infrared sorting equipment used in the trial unable to detect a commercial viable level of the black plastics present in the FPD items.