Castle Point borough council in Essex has assessed the potential impacts of collecting paper, glass, metals and plastics separately, concluding that doing so would not be “technically, environmentally and economically practicable” (TEEP).
And, as a result of this independent TEEP assessment, a council report states it will continue with its current methodology of collecting comingled recyclable material alongside the separate collection of glass.
Castle Point – which comprises the Essex areas of Benfleet, Canvey Island, Hadleigh and Thundersley – operates a fortnightly collection of mixed recycling in pink sacks alongside a yellow box for mixed glass bottles and jars and a separate sack for textiles. Refuse is also collected fortnightly, while food waste is collected every week.
Currently, this system operates under a contract originally awarded to recycling firm Newport Paper in 2008, but the council is now considering a new recycling services contract and recently commissioned a TEEP assessment on whether to change its current system.
The revised EU Waste Framework Directive comes into force in January 2015 and states that separate collections of at least the four aforementioned waste streams are required where they are TEEP and appropriate to meet “the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors”.
While Defra has scrapped plans to provide guidance to councils on the issue, WRAP is helping to draw up a route map to help councils find out if they are compliant and the Resource Association has designed an online TEEP information tool to assist reprocessors.
Castle Point council commissioned consultancy Plan B Management Solutions to provide “independent, technical advice in respect of the council’s current collection regime” ahead of the letting of the councils new recycling services contract.
While the council report states it is “unclear at this stage how the WFD requirements will be enforced”, it adds that any legal challenge to the council’s collections arrangement is “probably more likely to come from a local resident than from the Environment Agency”.
“The recommendation is the council continues, at this stage, with its current household waste collection methodology by separately collecting the glass from all other waste types, and collecting plastics, paper and metal comingled, and separate from other waste types.”
Therefore, the report recommends that to minimise the risk of legal challenge, in future it “would be prudent to perform TEEP assessments where any significant changes to the council’s waste management services are planned or have occurred”.
With regards to financial implications, the report claims that if the council had been forced to modify its collection arrangements as a result of the TEEP assessment, or it faces legal challenges next year, the costs to the council are “likely to be significant”.
The report adds: “The TEEP assessment undertaken by the council’s independent technical advisor has demonstrated it is not technically, economically or environmentally practicable to collect the four affected waste streams separately from one another and from other waste types.
“The recommendation is that the council continues, at this stage, with its current household waste collection methodology by separately collecting the glass from all other waste types, and collecting plastics, paper and metal comingled, and separate from other waste types.”
Shropshire-based Newport Paper’s contract with Castle Point had seen the council’s recyclables processed at the company’s MRF near Thetford, Norfolk, but this facility closed last year and the company has been outsourcing material processing to other facilities.
The council’s contract with Newport Paper comes to an end in October and it has already invited tenders for a new recycling services contract, which would be for an initial period of four years with the option of a two-year extension.
The contract includes the provision of a recycling facility to primarily sort paper, card, metals and plastics from Castle Point households, as well as the onward processing and recycling of these materials.