Report of Justin Lomax, Head of Contract Services, Waste and Resources Team.
Justin Lomax, Head of Contract Services, Waste and Resources Team introduced a report which provided an update on all contracts between the period of April-December 2020. Highlights from the report included –
· Current recycling rates were at 46% (same as 2019)
· Over 50,000 tonnes had been diverted away from landfill over this period, a 7% increase on last year.
· Rejection levels at the Materials Recovery Facility were c. 18% resulting in 6,500 tonnes being unable to be processed.
· 2 RIDDORS had been issued at Household Waste Recycling Centres since the last meeting, one was a relating to failed hydraulics on a shovel and the other relating to a back injury as a result of moving a box of rubble. Both issues had been addressed and appropriate actions taken.
· Despite the covid closures, there had been 547,000 visits to HWRCs, with a significant peak in July 2020 following the first lockdown period. Footfall had now levelled and remained lower than numbers in 2019 and 2018.
· The van permit scheme was in the final stages of development with a soft launch planned for June and a formal launch in July 2021.
· The Environment Agency were consulting on the level of permissible plastic in compost, reducing from 5% to 0.5%. GM levels were c. 10% currently, so this may result in increased levels of rejections and processing costs.
· Carpet recycling now required an environment permit as it has been re-classified as waste. This may result in less opportunities to recycling via equestrian outlets.
Members noted the increased level of rejections and officers confirmed that levels of diligent checking and communications with the public had been increased.
In relation to the disposal of domestic plasterboard, Members questioned whether there would be further facilities put in place across Greater Manchester. Due to the waste type, plasterboard had to be processed separately and therefore there were only the facilities to receive this waste at weigh bridge locations currently. Officers confirmed that additional provision was being considered and any developments would be reported back to the Committee.
Members were concerned about the general increase in contamination of biowaste and urged for stronger enforcement and further education to be delivered. Officers relayed the challenges as crews were only able to see what was on the top of the green bin and therefore often missed plastic bags, non-green garden waste, tools, plastics etc. Good practice from other local authorities was also being sought in relation to how to best educate the public regarding the impact of contamination.
Specifically, the issue of contaminated bins in shared flat facilities was raised and whether there were any plans to address this concern. Officers reported that best practice from London boroughs had been reviewed as they used a ‘bin champion’ arrangement where one resident was responsible to check the bins and communicate regularly with other residents. This could be an option for GM to pursue further, however it would require the support of the Local Authority and respective landlords. Members reported of cases where bin holes had been designed to only receive waste of one type had helped to minimise incidents of contamination.
It was considered that Covid-19 may have impacted contamination rates as families had been under significant pressures and recycling correctly may have slipped off their priority list as a result. Communications regarding previous campaigns had seen strong public support when delivering a simple, straightforward message that focussed on reward rather than sanction. In relation to contamination, Members suggested that an awareness campaign as to the cost saving to the council/tax/individual as a result of disposing correctly may be a good option to support behavioural change.
The change of classification for carpet waste was disappointing to the Committee, however, they were informed that although not of the same scale, sound insulation in car doors was another potential outlet.
In relation to the plant installation at Reliance Street, officers reported that the building was now in place and it was still on track to commence operation from August 2021. However, there had been a delay on the commissioning of works for the Raikes Lane site and a further update would be provided at the next meeting of the Committee.
1. That the report be noted.
2. That further information on the increase of plasterboard disposal provision would be brought to the Committee in due course.
3. That it be noted that Michelle Whitfield would share some practical examples of good practice sharing directly with Cllr Lancaster.
4. That an update on the installation of the turbine at the Raikes Lane Facility would be provided at the next Waste & Recycling Committee meeting.