Confidential report on waste collected by district councils in Gloucestershire indicates that bulk of waste to be burned by planned incinerator could be salvaged
10:58am Friday 8th March 2013 in News
AN ENORMOUS amount of the waste set to be burnt in the proposed £500 million Javelin Park incinerator will be either recyclable, compostable or reusable, a confidential report appears to show.
The report, produced for Gloucestershire County Council by waste consultancy firm Resource Futures, reveals a staggering 77.6 per cent of the residual waste collected by Gloucester City Council which is earmarked for the £500 million incinerator is recyclable, biodegradable or reusable.
Obtained via a Freedom of Information request, the report also shows that 65.8 per cent of the black bag rubbish collected in the Cotswold district and 57.8 per cent in Tewkesbury borough is recoverable - but this material will nevertheless be sent to the incinerator.
Former independent councillor Jan Bayley, who served on Cotswold District Council for eight years in the 1990s, acquired the report from the council.
She said it showed the proposed incinerator scheme would result in "a shocking waste of natural resources", while GlosVAIN's chairman Sue Oppenheimer described the findings as stunning.
The report shows that on average 67 per cent of the black bag rubbish, also known as residual waste, collected by Gloucester City Council, Cotswold District Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council is either recyclable, compostable or reusable.
Assuming a similar proportion of the residual waste collected by other local authorities in the county is recoverable, the report would suggest that a majority of the waste due to be burnt in the planned incinerator could have an alternative use.
Mrs Bayley, who oversaw the implementation of recycling schemes during her time at CDC, believes Mechanical Biological Treatment is a better and more environmentally friendly alternative to incineration because it would remove all of this recoverable material from the waste stream.
Whereas incinerators simply burn the black bag rubbish delivered to them, high-tec MBT plants sort through it, extracting all of the recyclable, compostable and reusable material.
Earlier this month Urbaser Balfour Beatty, the company behind the Javelin Park proposals, finalised an agreement to build an MBT facility in Basildon for Essex County Council.
"The proposal for an incinerator is not an environmental one at all. The environmental solution would be to have some form of system which allows for second chance recycling and sorting of waste," said Mrs Oppenheimer.
In response, Gloucestershire County Council said the Resource Futures report was one of many surveys carried out periodically to give an insight into recycling trends and was not supposed to be used as a basis for drawing broader conclusions.
The authority said the report was not an analysis of Gloucestershire's household rubbish as a whole but a snapshot of certain areas - Gloucester City, Cotswold District and Tewkesbury Borough - at a particular point in time.
Stan Waddington, GCC's cabinet champion for waste, said: "This report is a small one-off sample and it is not meant to be a basis for drawing broader conclusions.
"However, we strongly agree that there needs to be much more recycling in Gloucestershire. The Javelin Park facility is based on Gloucestershire achieving 70 per cent recycling.
"To do that, 90 per cent of families in the county will have to recycle 100 per cent of rubbish that can be recycled.
"We know that's a very challenging target - but we think it is right to recycle as much rubbish as possible - and then recover energy from the rest."
Analysis RESOURCE Futures was commissioned by the county council to analyse the content of black bag rubbish from three local authorities - Gloucester City Council, Cotswold District Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council.
Their confidential report, which was obtained following a FOI request, shows that the vast majority of waste in these black sacks (67 per cent) is recyclable, reusable or compostable - yet this is precisely the waste which will be sent to the Javelin Park incinerator to be burnt.
Although, Resource Futures only looked at three councils in the county, it is fair to assume that a similar proportion of the waste in black bags collected by other local authorities in Gloucestershire is also recoverable.
The Javelin Park incinerator is being built by GCC to process the county's residual waste - the black bag rubbish left over after residents have sorted their waste at the kerbside.
But, the Resource Futures report starkly illustrates that roadside recycling schemes fail to capture all recoverable waste and that an overwhelming majority of the waste found in the county's black bags and destined for the incinerator is still likely to be recyclable, reusable or compostable.
If given the go-ahead, the Javelin Park incinerator will process 190,000 tonnes of residual waste per annum over the duration of a 25-year contract.
However, the EU is proposing to ban the incineration of recyclable and compostable material by 2020.
If this material accounts for 67 per cent of the waste earmarked for the Javelin Park incinerator (127,300 tonnes per annum), as appears, it is difficult to see how the case for such a large facility stacks up.