PSD provides excuses for reducing recycling targets

October 29th, 2010 by Richard Lord

In the Billet D’Etat XXIV for December 2010 the States of Guernsey Public Services Department admits that it will fail to meet the 50% recycling target for household and commercial waste as mandated by the States of Deliberation in 2007.

The Public Services Department project that by the end of 2010 household recycling of dry recyclables such as paper, cardboard, glass, tins and cans, PET and HDPE plastic, and juice and milk cartons will reach 36.1%.  If ‘green’ garden waste is included, as the recycling figures do in the UK, then the Public Services Department projects that the rate of household recycling for 2010 will reach 44.4 %.  However, food waste is the largest component of household waste by weight.  Each home owner can compost their own food waste but currently there is no household collection of food waste.  The Integrated Skills report produced in July 2008 estimated that households produced over 5200 tonnes of  food waste per year.  However, the total amount of food waste composted (and recycled) by home owners is unknown.

The rate of commercial recycling cannot be calculated until early 2011.

PSD states that net expenditure on States funded recycling and associated services was £1.25 million in 2009.  The department also calculates that at current levels, achieving a 50% recycling rate for both household and commercial waste streams would result in about 36,000 tonnes of residual waste.

PSD would like to at least maintain current recycling levels and achieve 41.5% recycling of commercial waste.

The department plans to continue to aim for the 50% recycling target adopted in 2007 until it is superseded by targets set in the developing waste strategy.

The Public Services Department admits that the States of Guernsey has not always led by example in addressing their own recycling efforts.  Citing Enviros, the Environment Department’s consultants, logistical and social issues are provided as reasons why high recycling rate may not be achievable.

However PSD has achieved some recycling success.  In 2004, 4,128 tonnes of material was collected for recycling from domestic sources.  At the end of 2009 this figure had increased to 8,774 tonnes of material.

Commercial waste represents about two-thirds of the waste produced in Guernsey. Much of this waste is outside the control of the Public Services Department. The Department has to rely on the goodwill of Guernsey’s recycling industry to collate figures for levels of commercial recycling.  At the end of 2008 commercial recycling reached 41.5% but fell slightly in 2009.  Figures for 2010 won’t be available until 2011.

States of Guernsey run or supported waste minimisation and recycling initiatives (click table to expand)

The Public Services Department offer parishes the opportunity to be charged only £1.00 per tonne for delivering dry recyclates to the Fontaine Vinery site.  This could substantially reduce each parish’s solid waste disposal bill by reducing the amount tipped at the Mont Cuet landfill but to date no parish has taken up PSD’s offer.

Net cost per tonne of recycling domestic bring bank material in 2009 (click table to expand)

According to PSD’s figures in the table above, the average cost of bring bank recycling in 2009 was £68 per tonne.  This net cost is at a time when the price of recyclates had collapsed due to the credit crunch.  As recyclates become more valuable again, higher income receipts from the sale of recyclates may reduce the net cost of the bring bank recycling programme.

This £68 per tonne figure for bring bank recycling compares with PSDs’ initial proposed Suez facility gate fee of £175 per tonne.

The Billet D’Etat states that “Enviros had identified that to obtain high recycling rates, kerbside collections of dry recyclabes and kitchen organics would need to be in place.”

Enviros stated several barriers to using food waste.  These include limitations on land availability for local spreading, and a potential threat to public water supplies, which rely on surface derived water, based on nitrate content.

In the face of these limitations, PSD has distributed thousands of home composters, which compost food waste in an uncontrolled way, which can attract vermin and cause odour problems.

Guernsey currently imports from the UK thousands of tonnes of compost that is sold in garden centres and used in gardens all over the island.

Guernsey Mushrooms Ltd. imports almost one thousand tonnes of chicken manure from the UK every year, which is distributed around the island after it has been used to grow mushrooms.

The limitations cited by Enviros can be overcome.  Household and commercial food waste can be composted to a high standard to meet safe microbiological criteria.  It can be bagged and sold as locally produced compost to replace some of the imported compost.  This would reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by importing compost, and by reducing the methane produced by decomposing putrescible waste that currently escapes from the Mont Cuet landfill.

The parish of St. Helier in Jersey currently has a kerbside collection service for food waste.  The parish mixes food waste with green waste and composts it in a Rocket compost.  Using an accelerent, good quality, micro-biologically safe compost is produced in three weeks.  This compost is applied to St. Helier’s parks and gardens.

For further information from PSD in the Billet D’Etat XXIV please download the correspondence on PSDs recycling target from PSD Minister Bernard Flouquet and addressed to the Chief Minister and the Policy Council.

1 Response to “PSD provides excuses for reducing recycling targets”

  1. rosie dorey

    We really do need to get a move on and start to collect food waste from the kerbside to put through some kind of anaerobic digester. This would immediately help to alleviate the rat, seagull, smell and methane problem at Mont Cuet as well as reducing the tonnages entering the tip.

    Why do I feel nervous that PSD will find a way to say ‘no’ to anaerobic digestion? I do hope that I am wrong!!

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