Category Archives: Albion Environmental News

The Garden Waste Debate

The Garden Waste Debate: Exploring Scotland’s Permit System

In recent years, many councils across Scotland have implemented a permit system for garden waste collection, raising questions about its effectiveness and fairness. With 21 out of 32 councils now charging for garden waste collection, it’s crucial to examine whether these permits are a sensible approach to managing green waste. Let’s delve into the debate surrounding garden waste permits and assess their impact on both residents and local authorities.

 Why Permits?

Garden waste permits have been introduced to offset the costs associated with collecting and processing green waste. By charging residents for this service, councils aim to recover some of the expenses incurred in managing garden waste collections. However, the decision to implement permits has sparked a debate about whether this approach is the most equitable and efficient solution.

 Cost vs. Convenience

For residents, the introduction of garden waste permits raises concerns about affordability and accessibility. While some may be willing to pay for the convenience of kerbside collection, others may view the additional expense as an unnecessary burden. With limited options for disposing of garden waste without a permit, many residents will use their local recycling centre to ensure their waste is composted. Unfortunately, some might simply use their residual waste collection, increasing the amount of organic waste in residual bins. Given the cost differential for disposing of residual waste (approximately £160 per tonne) versus garden waste (approximately £30 per tonne), this could have a significant impact on council budgets. Research is still needed to evaluate the revenue from permits against the increased costs of disposing of additional residual waste.

 Council Considerations

From the perspective of local authorities, garden waste permits offer a potential source of revenue while encouraging waste reduction and recycling. By charging for garden waste collection, councils aim to incentivize residents to compost or recycle their green waste independently, thereby reducing the overall volume of waste sent to landfill. However, the effectiveness of this approach depends on residents’ willingness to comply with the permit system and explore alternative waste management options. The most environmentally sustainable solution is home composting, which eliminates the need for collection and disposal, yet few councils actively promote this option when providing information about garden waste permits.

 Lack of Consistency

One notable aspect of Scotland’s garden waste permit system is the lack of consistency across councils. While some councils charge for garden waste collection, others include it as a free service within council tax. The frequency of collection also varies, with some councils offering weekly or bi-weekly services, while others collect every three or four weeks. This inconsistency highlights the absence of a standardized policy for managing garden waste at the national level, leading to varied experiences and expectations for residents depending on their local council’s policies.

Price Disparity

The graphs we’ve compiled using data from all Scottish councils illustrate the price per brown bin collection and the annual permit charge. Prices range from free to £60 per year, with West Dunbartonshire Council being the most expensive. However, when examining the cost per collection, South Ayrshire Council tops the charts at £3.84 per collection, while East Renfrewshire Council is the cheapest at £1 per collection.

 Conclusion

The debate surrounding garden waste permits in Scotland underscores the complexities of balancing cost, convenience, and environmental sustainability in waste management. While permits offer a potential revenue stream for councils and theoretically promote waste reduction by encouraging home composting, they also raise questions about fairness and accessibility for residents.

Research into these changes would be beneficial—for example, identifying the most cost-effective collection frequency for garden waste, quantifying how much garden waste ends up in residual waste with a charging scheme, and evaluating the carbon impact of residents traveling to recycling centres regularly. Most council decision-makers seem to have taken a simplistic approach, viewing permits primarily as a revenue opportunity, without fully considering the implications for effective waste management, recycling, and carbon reduction.

As Scotland continues to grapple with these challenges, achieving consistency and clarity in garden waste policies across councils will be essential to ensuring an equitable and effective approach to green waste management.

Environmental Compliance Update: Monitoring Fugitive Emissions from Shredding Waste Upholstered Domestic Seating

 

Environmental Compliance Update: Monitoring Fugitive Emissions from Shredding Waste Upholstered Domestic Seating

🔍 Background: The Environment Agency has issued RPS 297, providing guidance for waste treatment sites handling shredded waste upholstered domestic seating (WUDS) containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Whilst this position statement only applies to England, if you are handling POPs/WUDS in Scotland and the rest of the UK it would be prudent to take this into account.

📋 Key Conditions to Meet:

  • Appropriate Disposal: Ensure shredded waste is sent to an authorized Industrial Emissions Directive Chapter 4 compliant permitted incinerator.
  • Health and Safety Monitoring: Maintain workplace exposure monitoring data showing fugitive particulate levels below 5 mg/m³.
  • Fugitive Monitoring Plan: Collaborate with the Environment Agency to establish a monitoring plan by August 31, 2024.
  • Results Reporting: Submit monitoring results to popsinsofas@environment-agency.gov.uk by December 20, 2024.
  • Abatement Equipment: Install abatement equipment by December 1, 2025, if necessary based on monitoring results.

🔗 Read the full RPS here: Monitoring Fugitive Emissions from Shredding Waste Upholstered Domestic Seating (RPS 297)

ℹ️ Please note: While this update provides valuable guidance for waste treatment sites, it is important to recognize the current challenges in monitoring for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the lack of an agreed sampling methodology in the UK. Additionally, RPS 297 only applies to England and for those operating in other parts of the UK there is currently no similar Position Statement.

🌍 Albion services: If you work with waste upholstered domestic seating Albion can offer the following services:

  • Compliance Assessment: Determine the extent of compliance with regulations regarding the handling, shredding, and disposal of waste upholstered furniture.
  • Risk Assessment: Identify potential environmental and human health risks associated with shredding waste.
  • Consulting: Provide guidance on best practices for managing waste including segregation, handling, storage, and transportation.
  • Training: Develop bespoke training programs for your staff on safe handling practices, environmental regulations compliance, and risk mitigation strategies.
  • Monitoring: Help develop monitoring protocols to track compliance with regulatory requirements.

Contact Us: Have questions or need assistance?
📞01292 610428

 

Resource Management Association Scotland (RMAS) Site visit to Optimum Eco Group – Restructa Ltd. and CCL (North) Ltd.

Resource Management Association Scotland (RMAS) Site visit to Optimum Eco Group – Restructa Ltd. and CCL (North) Ltd.

We had the pleasure of taking part in the RMAS site visit to Optimum Eco Group, sites Restructa Ltd. and CCL (North) Ltd, both in Irvine.

After a brief catch up over tea/ coffee and pastries, we were spilt into groups and taken by bus to the first site, CCL (North) Ltd. Established in 2000, CCL is one of the UK’s leading specialists for secure data destruction, IT asset disposal and WEEE recycling. Here we were shown around the plant and the process from the items arriving, to them being stripped down and recovered or fixed and reused. There is a museum section where some of the rarer finds are kept and displayed and I was delighted to see a ZX Spectrum computer on show, which took me back to my own childhood memories of my first ever console.

The ’hands-on’ approach with the waste demonstrates incredible attention to detail and ensures every part that could be recovered or reused is able to be utilised elsewhere. I found the vape dismantling particularly interesting as I am seeing more and more discarded vapes everywhere I go. These were stripped down, batteries removed, and plastic sleeves separated to try and make use of as many parts of the vape as possible. This was done by hand and under a fume cupboard.

The handling of IT equipment and other data sensitive equipment was very well thought through to maintain sensitivity and security throughout for the client. We were able to see the process of shredding, and the vast difference from the assets that went into the shredder compared to what came out at the other side.

We were then taken to Restructa which was formed in 2005 in response to the UK Government’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive.

It focuses on the repair, reuse and recycling of display equipment from its 25,000sq ft facility, handling more than 1000 TVs every day. Restructa. has developed into a leading recycling and waste management provider.

The televisions and monitors arrive and are checked to see what is wrong with them to segregate those repairable from those requiring recycling. We learned that out of 650,00 televisions sent for recycle each year, 37,000 tv’s are repaired and go on to have an extended life by around 5 to 6 years and are used by those who need them most.

At both sites we saw their modern apprentices hard at work and learning new skill sets. It was very reassuring to hear that approximately 70% of apprentices go on to progress within the company.

One fascinating thing about our visit was being shown what happens to the old TV screens, the glass is processed on site and made into garden decorative pebbles and chips, that has an opaque quality and let’s light shine through meaning the old TV screens become part of garden décor, water features and I was given some myself which I look forward to adding to my plant pot.

The other incredible piece of technology we were shown was the POPs (Persistent organic pollutants) testing system that Optimum Eco Group have developed, which tells you if a television backing can be recycled or not, thus increasing recyclable material. The manufacturing industry has no current responsibility to tell us what chemicals are in the items they produce, meaning they are less likely to consider the cradle to grave concept and how easy their product is to be recycled at end-of-life and this responsibility now falls to the waste industry to deal with.  

Our visit gave me lots of food for thought and great chat over lunch and it was so nice to see an organisation, not only doing what they should, but going above and beyond showing best practice and actively looking for the next best thing. How great it would be if everyone thought so carefully about their impact on the environment and what they can do better. RMAS does a great job of encouraging knowledge sharing, networking and engagement as well as encouraging innovation.

RMAS is a not-for-profit, non-political membership organisation for micro, small and medium sized resource management companies operating in Scotland. They actively represent and support companies who are operating across the length and breadth of Scotland. RMAS ensure members are well informed and that priority issues, risks, and opportunities are communicated, and represented effectively to Government, its various agencies, the commercial sector and the public.

I am grateful to RMAS and Optimum Eco Group for arranging the day and provoking the conversation that followed as a result. A truly informative site visit and lunch.

LitterID Service

Albion is delighted to launch our new “LitterID” service for local authorities in the UK.

Using the latest technology, developed in collaboration with leading universities in the UK, litter can be tested and DNA identified. The test will take place at a lab near our office and takes less than 5 minutes to be completed. Once the test result is available the result is uploaded into our computer system using the latest AI technology to identify the litter culprit. In independent tests of the technology we have achieved an accuracy of 99.9%.

The Benefits to Councils

  • Millions of pounds are spent by councils each year clearing and lifting litter – many believe this money could be better spent on other services.
  • Litter results in degradation of public areas.
  • Littering is a serious blight on our landscape and has a detrimental effect on our tourism industry.
  • The law is clear – under Section 87 EPA 1990 – Littering is a criminal offence, throwing down or dropping an item in any public open space is classed as littering. If a person is found guilty of the offence they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £80 or could potentially be prosecuted and risk a fine of up to £2,500.
  • This new technology allows councils to get serious about litter and provide a proper deterrent to littering.

Examples of typical use may be –

  • Officers frequent local pubs and sample and analyse cigarette butts outside pubs – frequently there will be multiple butts discarded so for example 20 butts would generate £1,600 for a few hours work
  • After large events or during summer weather, when for example lots of people visit our lovely beaches but simply leave or discard their litter – councils can gear up with extra officers.  Revenue potential can run into tens of thousands of pounds
  • An interesting option is when councils collect roadside litter, the waste collected can be taken back to a central location, tested and offenders identified! This would require some investment from councils but the testing is so quick and easy that one officer can test an item ever minute resulting in a fine rate of £4,800.

The Process

Albion will provide the following service to local authorities who wish to use this innovative technology –

Provision of sampling and test kits for your officers.

In person training for your officers which will include training on sampling and testing.

In person training for staff who will be authorised to use the AI powered data base to identify offenders and issue fixed penalty notices.

Albion believe this technology will be a game changer for addressing the serious blight of littering in the UK. There will be no hiding place for people who litter. Councils will need to work out policies regarding how this can be implemented. For example serial offenders may find they receive multiple fines but ultimately – if you don’t want a fine – don’t litter – it’s easy!

For further information and costs of this new service in the UK please do not hesitate to contact: info@albion-environmental.co.uk

For any enquiries outwith the UK we are setting up a franchise system so please get in touch, and we can also discuss this option.

Useful Links to Support this:

Litter and fly tipping legislation | Zero Waste Scotland

Who is responsible for litter and fly-tipping? | Zero Waste Scotland

Keep Scotland Beautiful

Responsibilities | Community Litter Hub (keepscotlandbeautiful.org)

Recent Consultation on MRF Code of Practice

The Scottish Government have released proposed amendments to the MRF Code of Practice (CoP), running from February 2024 – 19 April 2024, aiming to support the rollout of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging from 2025.

Albion has reviewed the consultation and listed some of the main changes below:

Key highlights include:

  • Expansion of CoP scope to include bulking facilities, mandating sampling and reporting for MFs handling waste from multiple suppliers.
  • Increased sampling frequency for input materials to 60kg per 75 tonnes.
  • Introduction of new materials for sampling and reporting.
  • Effective date set for October 1, 2024.
  • Mandatory retention of sampling data for seven years, with reporting obligations starting October 1, 2024.
  • Requirement for separate identification of glass as packaging.
  • Refined sampling methodology aligned with England and Wales standards.

Under input sampling and reporting:

  • More frequent sampling at once every 75 tonnes.
  • Minimum individual sample weight set at 55kg.
  • Inclusion of data on weight and type of packaging, categorized by target, non-target, and non-recyclable materials.
  • Addition of new material grades such as plastic pots/tubs/trays, plastic bottles, and fibre-based composite material.

Output sampling and reporting:

  • Applicable to facilities within the current CoP’s scope.
  • New requirement to report packaging separately.
  • Addition of fibre-based composite as a material category with specific sampling frequencies.

End destination recording and reporting:

  • Extension of obligations to newly in-scope bulking facilities.

These proposed changes aim to enhance waste management practices and align operations with evolving regulatory frameworks, urging stakeholders to provide feedback during the consultation period.

What can Albion do to help?

We are an experienced provider of Compositional Waste Analysis services to Local Authorities and Commercial Waste Companies and can assist operators undertake Waste Sampling in accordance with the CoP.

We have also developed and delivered training courses which provide information and support to MRFs which fall under the Code of Practice.

For more information or an informal chat regarding these changes please contact:

andrew@albion-environmental.co.uk

This consultation has been circulated to interested stakeholders by e-mail, Albion understand that if you wish to review the consultation in full you can contact:

producerresponsibility@gov.scot