Archive for February, 2010

The history of Guernsey’s solid waste debate and where we are now

February 5th, 2010 by Scott Ogier

As the waste debate draws near and the key issues threaten to be lost amidst the welter of information and disinformation perhaps a brief recap of history will help put our current situation into perspective.

In 2003, the States of Guernsey voted to proceed with a 70,000 tonne incinerator but in 2004 I brought a requete which halted the process while an independent investigation took place. The subsequent panel of enquiry believed more should be done to encourage the minimisation and recycling of waste.

The States of Deliberation decided to restart its procurement process.

Unfortunately – and what leads us here today – is that States didn’t in the interim support the measures we believed were necessary to change our long term waste strategy, measures such as; exporting to Jersey to buy time to drive down our waste stream, household collection for dry recyclables, anaerobic digestion for food waste or a Materials Recovery Facility for industrial and commercial waste, none of that was implemented. None of the measures to really drive down our residual waste stream were implemented.

Without source separation, society’s waste is channeled into a single stream which needs to be handled. To handle that single stream we need a large plant. Separating out our waste means no one single large plant is required.

Without that separation one is merely left discussing what sort of large plant we will have, which is where we are.

The States of Deliberation has been busy constantly on this issue since the early 1990s; there are two trains of thought, one a waste separation and minimisation camp and the other a collect-it-all-and-deal-with-it camp. The latter has always had the upper hand. The segregate and separate camp has lost nearly every battle. We lost kerbside twice in the last year alone. The States has made its views very clearly known.

Our current situation, i.e. having this plant as a solution, is a result of the ‘collect it all and deal with it’ mentality which is still in the majority as shown by the recent rejection, twice, of kerbside collection of recyclables and the failure to explore micro incineration as put forward by the People’s Panel.

As well as rejecting household collection of recyclables the States has also turned many other options down over recent years:

In 2004 we turned down a 70,000 tonne incinerator.

In 2006 the States declined to go with export to Jersey to buy us time to work on reducing our waste stream.

Deputy de Lisle’s and my plan for a smaller waste stream of 30,000 – 50,000 tonnes was similarly defeated in 2006 and the States stuck with 45,000 – 70,000 tonnes. Ironically this 37,000 – 57,000 tonne solution is not far off where we wanted to be.

In 2007 the States of Deliberation failed to install Deputy Dorey’s Materials Recovery Plant to drive down industrial and commercial waste.

In 2008 this current Assembly barely allowed the Energy Report to scrape through and noted it rather than endorsing and supporting it. The work streams remain almost entirely unfunded which shows how low the environment is on the agenda.

Finally in 2008 this current Assembly refused to pause the procurement process to explore waste minimisation and a smaller residual plant as recommended by the Waste Disposal People’s Panel report.

In May 2009 the States rejected kerbside recycling. In September 2009 the States rejected kerbside recycling again.

These are the key milestones and debates which gave the States of Deliberation an opportunity to pursue a waste minimization strategy. The States decided to follow none of them.

Personally I think that we should be source separating our waste; we should have kerbside collections; our residual waste should be driven down and our recovery and recycling of raw materials should be higher.

The last States and this States do not agree however.

The reason we lost those debates is this; when we stopped the last incinerator we had an uneasy coalition of deputies opposed to it for various reasons.

When we tried to rebuild the waste strategy however, not everyone was on the same page. Everyone started voting according to those various reasons. It was easy to unite to oppose the incinerator but everyone’s idea of where we should go FROM there was different.

Those who opposed the incinerator on financial grounds, did not support kerbside recycling on financial grounds.

Those who opposed the incinerator on environmental grounds would not support export of waste to Jersey for environmental reasons.

Those who opposed the incinerator on health grounds would not support micro-incineration due to health concerns.

Given that split and the inability to compromise, everything which could have taken us away from a single plant to handle our waste was rejected, leaving only the option of a single plant once more, albeit a smaller, cheaper plant.

We have been good at destroying and poor at building.

There are some supporters of Deputy Kuttelwascher’s Requete who did not support kerbside, did not support a waste minimization strategy. There are some who refused to pause the waste plant procurement to investigate shipment to Jersey or micro-incineration. They urged PSD to proceed with the tender.

So we can see that once again we have an uneasy coalition of political views which could starburst away from each other as soon as the Requete is past leaving us with no waste solution once again but also no consensus on what to replace it with.

If the Deputy Kuttelwascher Requete succeeds in its aims – and its aims are to examine alternatives in the hope of finding something better and going out, therefore, to procure this ‘better solution’ – that would result in a further tendering exercise. By the time that has finished we will have spent 11 years since 2004, using over £50 million pounds worth of landfill life.

The supporters of Deputy Mary Lowe’s Amendment need to be extremely careful. It could be passed by a coalition of Deputies some of whom wish to separate, minimise and divert waste through kerbside collections and a zero waste style approach while others may just want to have another large plant like the gasification plant we saw recently or Rodney Brouard’s waste processor. If those two factions unite and throw Suez out there is no guarantee they will be able to agree on what to replace Suez with.

This Assembly has already shown, by its actions, that a rejection of this plant could result in another five years of wasted debates and split voting. The Environmental credentials of the house are very poor and I have my doubts that we would win through to the levels of separation, segregation and minimisation necessary to move away from the single large plant.

That is why I supported this half size incinerator, not because it is where I want to be, but because the voting patterns of the last States and this one, dictated we have this kind of solution.

I am disappointed we have not done more to minimise and separate our waste stream but we have had numerous debates over the past five years and nearly every stone has been turned and unfortunately put back again in exactly the same position.

So, without taking steps to separate out recyclables and minimising the waste stream, it is inevitable that a large plant to deal with the larger amounts of residual waste would be required so it is no surprise that the waste industry have tendered for an Incinerator.

With this latest tender, as well as incineration, other viable technologies were permitted to tender, including modular, micro-incineration, mechanical heat treatment, gasification, pyrolisis, all forms of mechanical and biological treatment and all forms of heat treatment. All were permitted to tender. We received three tenders, two for incinerators, and one for a gasification unit. The Suez Environnement proposal was the cheapest and most environmentally friendly and at 37,000 tonnes had the smallest heat treatment unit. In fact it can operate down to 27,000 tonnes.

We have just gone through a tendering process where gasification plants could have tendered and did. Micro, modular incinerators could also have been tendered or waste processors could have tendered.

Why then, despite assurances of being able to handle our waste stream in a modular fashion and extremely cheaply did no one put forward these as a solution? At the incredibly cheap prices we hear being quoted they should have been run away winners. But no tenders were received, despite their being able to. We have no evidence that these newcomers would have been able to meet the standards expected of them in order to place a tender.

We pushed very hard to get our waste separated out and minimised but the decisions of the States have always favoured a residual plant approach, having a large plant dealing with all the waste produced. To stop now and tender for other big plant solutions when we have already gone out to tender in the last 24 months would be a farcical course of action.

We could stop the current waste strategy, go out to tender again and lower our standards, to say, you don’t need a couple of plants up and running for a couple of years so we can see how successful they are, in other words, you don’t need a proven track record, we are willing to take a risk on you. We would then see all sorts of new technologies vying to have their prototypes trialled on Guernsey, all sorts of salesmen promising to run it cheaper, better, faster – which was what we had after the cancelled incinerator in 2004. When it came to the crunch however, they were nowhere to be seen or worked out tens of millions of pounds more expensive.

The opinion of the States has been that it might be acceptable for a county such as Hampshire or Brittany to take a risk on technology which hasn’t been up and running successfully in a couple of places for a couple of years to prove itself. Hampshire can transport any waste to another one of their incinerators or to another county or to a landfill site. If Guernsey goes for unproved technology and it fails, we do not have the same luxuries on this small island as they do on the mainland or in the UK.

I hope I have demonstrated to readers who believe this current waste disposal plant is the idea of PSD that in fact it is the history of debates which has led us here, and that it is a States of Guernsey solution.

If they would take it, another alternative would of course be to export to Jersey. This would buy us time to seriously attack the waste stream and divert it to other destinations. But we have argued all this before and lost.

One thing is for sure, Deputies supporting the Requete or Amendments who have previously voted against waste minimisation or pause for investigation will now need to commit to those kinds of measures. It is a shame they are prepared to do that now at the last minute when we could have done with their support at earlier key stages.

Newey & Eyre (CI) Ltd. accepting low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes for recycling

February 5th, 2010 by States of Guernsey Public Services Department

A low energy light bulb (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

GUERNSEY has started low-energy electric light bulb and fluorescent tube recycling through a tie-up between a local company and the States.   With the backing and encouragement of the Treasury and Resources and Public Services Departments, local electrical goods supplier Newey & Eyre (CI) Ltd is launching the recycling initiative.

Low-energy bulbs and fluorescent tubes contain trace elements of hazardous chemicals such as fluorescents with mercury and sodium. Ideally these bulbs should not be broken and put into landfill, although old-style bulbs can be placed in general household waste. Continue reading

A model for 21st century environmentally friendly urban living?

February 5th, 2010 by Richard Lord

The final episode in ‘What a Waste’ looks to the future by examining how cities such as Freiburg in Germany are at the forefront of sustainable technology and taking the first steps in mitigating the impact humans have on their environment.

Chief Executive of the Garenne Group offers his advice to States of Guernsey on proposed incinerator

February 4th, 2010 by Andy

I would like to take issue with Peter Roffey’s conclusions in his Guernsey Press article of 19th January 2010 titled ‘Burning Issue’.

I have no vested interest, more the opposite in fact since our company would probably have some involvement in the construction of the Suez Incinerator should it be built.  However, I am fundamentally opposed to Guernsey constructing such a huge incinerator plant.

Because I have experience of various aspects of incinerator construction, it might be useful for others to read my opinions on the subject.  Our company quoted at the time of Lurgi and were involved in the tender process eventually won by Suez.  We are currently constructing the Jersey Incinerator and have been on site now for twelve months.  Throughout these last eight or nine years we have worked very closely with the process contractors, CNIM, Energos, WRG and Imtech.  All of their waste experts, to a man, believe that what Guernsey is currently proposing is ‘mad’ and that we must have money “to burn”!!

They all believe it is far too big and expensive for an island of our size and not the solution any of them would put forward if only they could be given that opportunity.

Referring to Peter Roffey’s numbered paragraphs:

1.    It is disingenuous to refer to incinerator opponents purely as people (deputies) with a “green leaning”.  Of course, environmental issues are extremely important; incineration is clearly not environmentally friendly and many UK and European countries are now sourcing alternatives.

But it is the overall conclusion which we should embrace: the Suez plant is environmentally unfriendly as a process, it will be a huge ugly building partly destroying our north eastern coastline and it is far too expensive. These three main points are individually damaging but put together and you have a total disaster scenario!

2.      The alternatives are many and they are not all cutting-edge technology as Peter Roffey suggests.   I would not be so bold as to select which alternative is best (it could be Stan Brouards autoclave, it could be landfill, it could be micro incinerators, etc, etc.) but I am convinced there is a tried and tested, simpler, cheaper solution out there for Guernsey.

3.    It is accepted that all waste treatment processes produce a residue.  From my experience the residues from an incinerator are more toxic and “risky” to deal with than other treatment processes.

4.    Exporting waste to Jersey seems a very sensible solution to me.  Jersey’s new plant is 18 months away from completion.  It is too big for Jersey’s current waste projections, at least for the next 15 years.  Jersey States have recently reconfirmed their desire to accept Guernsey’s waste.  The experience in the UK (Isle of Man is a good example) is that incinerators end up “importing” waste because they need to keep the burners going, so it could be that Jersey could take our waste for longer than 15 years.  The thought of Guernsey’s incinerator, if built, being too big is frightening, environmentally and economically – recycling would have to disappear and we might have to import waste!

Jersey would have no extra work to do in order to receive our waste because their tipping hall is already sized to receive the large tipping lorries.  The shipping companies have already stated they have the capacity.  Guernsey would need to build a waste transfer section.  I built such a station in South Wales some 25 years ago and, it is a fairly simple construction.  I would guess to build something similar in Guernsey would currently cost in the region of, say, £4m.  Surely this 15 year solution at very acceptable costs must be explored, bearing in mind that 15 years is over half the life of the 25 year Suez plant.

5.    As a contractor, I do not believe Guernsey will lose its credibility as a client if they change their mind on this issue now.  I do not accept that “few serious waste treatment companies will want to have anything to do with us in the future”.  On the contrary all the companies we deal with would be very willing to get involved in a waste solution for Guernsey that they would see as being appropriate and not “mad” as is their view of the current proposal.

6.    I don’t understand why people talk of the waste plant being self financing or “free to the States”.  The simple fact whether States run or privately funded is that the people of Guernsey will be paying for this plant.  If there is a cheaper solution out there, and there is, then we will all benefit financially.

7.    Longue Hougue is a large site and the alternatives to the Suez plant are generally smaller so less likely to sterilise the site.  In fact one of the greatest reasons not to build the Suez plant is that 25 years after construction it will reach the end of its working life and then what?  Then we really will have a sterilised site.

8.    Landfilling Les Vardes again appears a very plausible alternative.  Do we really need if for future water storage – quite unlikely since our current water storage gives us a full year of use.

The environmental problems associated with landfill have always been the production of methane and leachate.  These can both be dealt with now fairly
simply.   A very plausible solution to our waste problem could be a strategy of:

•    Export to Jersey for 15 years allowing Ronez final quarrying time at Les Vardes
•    Build methane / leachate treatment at head of quarry and landfill in Les Vardes for well in excess of 50 years
•    Use Longue Hougue for something more valuable.

9.    New technology around the corner is here now, is not untried and should be reviewed.  The problem has been the States brief to, and choice of, their consultants.  They have been wedded to an incinerator and do not appear to want to open their eyes to alternatives.  If we move forward in a positive way by rejecting the Suez incinerator we must set up a more open minded team to explore the many better options.

10.    Peter Roffey is right in saying that somebody has to start to govern and make some real decisions.  This should not mean that we must make the wrong decision at all costs.

I would urge States members to support Jan Kuttelwascher’s requete and ultimately decide not to proceed with the Suez Incinerator.

Andy Hall
Chief Executive Officer
Garenne Group

Existing Homes Alliance

February 2nd, 2010 by admin

The UKs Existing Homes Alliance published their manifesto on 1 February 2010.  The manifesto states that the UK housing sector should achieve a 42% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 based on 1990 levels.  The organisation estimates that the cost of treating individual homes with a whole house retrofit to improve energy efficiency to the required level will cost from £12,000 to £40,000 per home depending on the type of property and the energy efficiency measures installed.

Download the manifesto