Posts Tagged ‘Carbon Trust’

Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The number of single use carrier bags used in Wales looks set to plummet under Welsh Assembly Government proposals announced today (June 4) to introduce a seven pence charge for them from Spring 2011.

 However, campaign groups have attacked the proposal, claiming existing voluntary agreements and recycling initiatives would have a better environmental impact than the planned tax.


Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

The announcement of proposals for the tax on single-use carrier bags come as the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) looks to reduce the over 400 million carrier bags currently distributed in the retail sector in the country.

Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson will today launch a second consultation on the proposed tax today (June 4) at the Hay Festival for literature and arts, in a bid to gauge responses to the proposed seven pence charge.

Under the proposals, a seven pence charge would be placed on bags from Spring 2010. It had been anticipated that the WAG would look to introduce a tax of between five and 15 pence per bag under a four-month consultation launched in June 2009 (see story).


The second round of consultation, which closes on August 2 2010, is also seeking views on whether there should be exemptions for certain types of bags used to carry unpackaged food or pharmacy medicines and whether there should be a voluntary agreement with retailers to ensure profits from the charge are passed to environmental or community projects.

Commenting on the proposed charge, Ms Davidson said: “Carrier bags are an iconic symbol of the throwaway society in which we live. Whilst I know that reducing our use of single use carrier bags is not going to solve all our environmental problems, the charge delivers an important message about the need for us to live much more sustainable lives.

“I believe the seven pence charge is high enough to encourage consumers to change their shopping habits but not so high that it will stop impulse shopping or create a significant burden when we have forgotten reusable bags.

“I am confident that the Welsh public will embrace the carrier bag charge and see it as positive step towards preserving our beautiful countryside and helping Wales to reduce its carbon footprint.

A study undertaken by environmental consultancy AEA in October 2009 claimed that there was “good evidence” for Wales to introduce a charge, and added that the WAG should follow an example set by the Republic of Ireland with its Plastax Levy in 2002 (see story).


Responding to the WAG proposal, the Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) – an alliance of carrier bag manufacturers – hit out at the proposed levy and claimed that the Welsh Assembly Government was “ignoring the science” by proceeding with plans for the charge.

A spokesman for the organisation told “We don’t believe that there is any such thing as a ‘single-use’ carrier bag, as is claimed by the Welsh Assembly Government, as we know from Defra statistics that 80% are reused at least once for something or other, for things like bin bags.”

The spokesman also pointed to a voluntary agreement put in place by WRAP with retailers over the past two years, which saw single-use carrier bag distribution fall by 48% compared to 2006 levels (see story).

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“We know the number of bags being wasted and we know that people have been made to think about whether they need a bag, which is the primary principle for the tax being given by the Welsh Minister,” he said.

Furthermore, the spokesman identified the growing number of recycling points at major supermarkets, which he said now totalled “over 3,000”, which allow shoppers to deposit used bags into a dedicated container for recycling. The spokesman stressed: “What this will do is not help the environment at all.”


Welsh minister supports Every Can Counts

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson has given her backing to the drinks can recycling campaign Every Can Counts and encouraged businesses and public sector organisations across Wales to follow the example set by the scheme.


Environment minister Jane Davidson with members of the IPS Green Team promoting the Every Can Counts campaign

Environment minister Jane Davidson with members of the IPS Green Team promoting the Every Can Counts campaign



The campaign, which was launched in October 2008, is aimed at capturing both steel and aluminium beverage cans away from households and is run by aluminium recycling sector trade organisation, Alupro with backing from WRAP, UK Can Makers and Beverage Can Recycling Europe. 

Its intention to help capture 30,000 tonnes-a-year of aluminium beverage cans and 8,000 tonnes-a-year of steel beverage cans, was endorsed in England by former minister for waste and recycling Jane Kennedy in February 2009 (see story).

The Every Can Counts campaign is working with the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and government-funded resource management service Envirowise Wales to roll-out the scheme in Welsh public sector organisations.

Envirowise is promoting the campaign as part of its public sector waste minimisation campaign (PSWMC), which is funded by the WAG and encourages sustainable waste management practices.

Under the arrangement, the campaign is trying to get all public sector organisations in Wales to work towards reducing waste generated as a result of their day-to-day operations.

Envirowise is managed by AEA Technologies and Serco Limited, however, a contract to manage the service is currently being re-let following the merger of existing waste and recycling programmes into one delivery body under WRAP in April 2010 (see story).


Ms Davidson visited the offices of Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in Newport, South Wales on Monday (May 24) to show her support for the drinks can recycling campaign.

The IPS has adopted the Every Can Counts campaign to complement its existing recycling programme and encourage recycling among its 365-strong staff, with funding from the PSWMC enabling it to produce promotional material to share throughout the organisation.

Ms Davidson, said: “I am very impressed by the recycling efforts of the Identity and Passport Service and would like to congratulate the staff on their achievements so far.”

She added that the scheme exemplified what could be achieved by workplace recycling and said: “I hope their success will encourage other organisations to take their recycling efforts to the next level.”

Rick Hindley, of Every Can Counts, said: “The range of programmes we are now working with demonstrate the flexibility of Every Can Counts and how it can effectively increase the pro-environmental behaviour of employees. It’s extremely positive to witness how the Identity and Passport Service is implementing the programme and to see it making a difference straight away.”

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Every Can Counts


And, Ms Davidson said that the forthcoming ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy, which is set to be published next month, would look to build on recycling away from the household in order to reach its proposed target of recycling or composting 70% of municipal waste by 2025 (see story).

She explained: “Later this spring I will be launching our waste management strategy ‘Towards Zero Waste’ which will set out our ambitions of becoming a high recycling country by 2025 and a zero waste country by 2050. Dramatically improving recycling at work wll be key to helping us achieve these ambitions.”

WRAP claims benefits of EfW in updated life cycle research

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Recycling is still the most environmentally beneficial waste management option for materials such as paper, card and plastics, according to a report published today (March 16) by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).


However, the study does claim that sending paper to energy recovery could be comparable in terms of climate change potential – as a measure of greenhouse gas emissions – and recommends that for biopolymers such as corn starch bags this could be the best option. 

One of the main findings of the WRAP report was that incinerating paper had comparable climate change potential to recycling the material

One of the main findings of the WRAP report was that incinerating paper had comparable climate change potential to recycling the material

The research, entitled ‘Environmental benefits of recycling – 2010 update’, builds on a 2006 study commissioned by WRAP (see story) which looked at the impact of landfilling, recycling or incinerating materials.

In the 256-page document, WRAP scrutinised over 200 life cycle analyses of waste material disposal to consider which route would give the most preferred benefits on four fronts: climate change abatement; energy demand; water consumption; and, depletion of natural resources.

The research looked at food waste, garden waste, textiles and biopolymers and advancements in waste treatment technologies, such as pyrolysis, gasification and anaerobic digestion.

Aluminium, steel, glass and aggregates, which had been part of the 2006 study, were excluded because there has been little change in treatment technology for these materials, so it was considered that there would be little change in the results.

And, while recycling emerged as the preferred disposal option for paper, cardboard, plastics and biopolymers, the 2010 report gives credence to the idea that – in some cases – it may be beneficial for material to be used in energy recovery applications.

The attention given to thermal treatment methods in the report comes in the wake of WRAP announcing in October 2009 that it would be changing its agenda to include a focus on developing markets for energy-from-waste (see story).

The executive summary for the report states: “This report reinforces the key conclusion of the first report that recycling of paper/cardboard, plastics and biopolymers for most indicators assessed gives more environmental benefits than other waste management options.”


In its assessment of the preferred disposal option for paper, WRAP explained that the relationship between incineration and recycling “appears more complex” than in the 2006 study, which could be attributed to the development of new thermal treatment technologies.

And, while it claimed that recycling is preferable in terms of meeting energy demand and water consumption, they were found to be broadly comparable in terms of climate change potential.

Keith James, environmental policy manager at WRAP, claimed that the finding was similar to that made in the 2006 report, and said it was important to stress that the quality of paper being recycled diminishes each time it is recycled. And, once it is of too low quality to be recycled further, it is important to find appropriate outlets.

The research highlights three case studies, including French and Swedish examples, where incineration appeared on a comparable level with recycling.

The report states: “The comparison between recycling and incineration appears more complex, as better energy recovery efficiencies have been built into the more recent LCAs. In general, the data shows that recycling is preferable for energy demand and water consumption, but they are comparable for climate change.”


 The report said that the preferred disposal option for biopolymer plastics – such as corn starch bags – is currently incineration, due to the lack of abundant material or suitable recycling infrastructure. Until a biopolymer market is created, WRAP claims energy recovery is the best use.

 Speaking to, Mr James said: “With bio-polymers there is not that much on the market at the moment so there isn’t enough to warrant separate collection.”

On the subject of plastics as a whole, the WRAP report claims that incineration with energy recovery “performs poorly” and the preferred treatment method is stated as mechanical recycling – a finding which conforms with the results of the 2006 study.

The new report claimed that mechanical recycling of plastics is the best waste management option and that the benefits were mainly achieved due to avoiding production of virgin plastics.

Food and garden waste

On the topic of food and garden waste, anaerobic digestion emerged as the preferred treatment option, with composting and energy recovery deemed comparable in their contribution to climate change potential.

In addition, the report claimed that home compost bins should be properly managed and aerated, to avoid anaerobic conditions forming, which could result in the emission of methane.

Wood and Textiles

The lack of published life cycle analyses was raised as a point of contention in the report when it attempted to consider the best possible option for wood and textile materials.

Despite the lack of available data for the two material streams, WRAP claimed that incineration with energy recovery would be the preferable option for wood in terms of energy demand, while recycling was preferred for climate change potential.

Meanwhile, it was assessed – from the data available – that recycling had “substantial environmental benefits” for textiles, with the scale of the benefits dependent on recovery routes and the avoidance of material production.

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This lack of available data also hampered WRAP’s intention of assessing the impact of new waste treatment technologies – which, WRAP claimed, had a “disappointing” number of life cycle analyses available. However, the study claimed the data that was available was “very encouraging”.

Commenting on the overall aim of the study, Mr James said: “We were interested in understanding how technology is developing because, obviously, things don’t stand still and we need to understand how much has changed in those intervening four years and what the options now are for a range of materials We wanted to see what evidence is out there.”

The report is set to be formally published on WRAP’s website later today (March 16).

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