Category Archives: Consultancy Services

REA’S ORGANICS RECYCLING SCOTLAND CONFERENCE

Albion team attended The REA Organics Scotland Conference, organised by The Renewable Energy Association and hosted in Aberdeen. This conference allows groups within the organics sector – including local authorities, waste operators, waste management companies, and industry consultants – to come together to discuss the issues facing the Organic Waste Treatment sector. It is the ideal platform to look at innovative developments, current opportunities, and certain challenges and difficulties within the field.

The event started with a visit to an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) site being constructed near Aberdeen’s TECA (The Event Complex Arena). It was fascinating to see the plans for the site, how it would work, and to see the inside of an Anaerobic Digestion tank. Once the AD site is operating, it will produce enough electricity to power TECA. The plant will use 81,000 tonnes of feedstock each year, and this will include Aberdeen’s food waste, along with agricultural wastes and crop fuels.

In Scotland, building more organic waste treatment plants could be crucial in meeting the target to ban any biodegradable municipal waste from entering landfills from 2025 onwards (extended from 2021). This is just one of many important policy targets implement by the Scottish Government, to improve waste management. Another aim in Scotland is to cut food waste by 33% (from the 2013 figure) by 2025.

The first conference speaker covered this topic, by introducing the Scottish Governments Food Waste Reduction Action Plan & explaining the different methods that will be used to minimise food waste. Most of the other speakers, focused on organic waste management. Over the course of the conference, there were multiple interesting talks on a variety of topics, including:

  • Plastics found in organic waste, and what can be done about this
  • Summary of a study tour that explored the methods that Italy use to handle organic wastes
  • The process of building an organic waste treatment plant
  • How Aberdeen is using renewable energy to transform the city
  • Improving the quality of compost outputs from composting sites
  • Panel discussion on promoting the benefits of recycling organic materials

Albion’s very own KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) Associate presented at the conference too. She gave a well-received and engaging talk about bioaerosol monitoring and the benefits of a KTP. The talk included a description of what bioaerosols are,why it is important to monitor them and ways for sites to manage and minimise the risk of bioaerosols.

Bioaerosols are often generated by microorganisms, and high levels of microorganisms are crucial in the process of degrading (and therefore treating) organic wastes. As such, organic waste treatment can be strongly linked to high concentrations of bioaerosols – which can have certain negative health effects for humans. This makes bioaerosol monitoring an important subject.

Going forward a mutual understanding of both the key issues facing organics recyclers and how environmental and health & safety legislation may fit will help progress this KTP. Following on from the KTP, our environmental consultants here at Albion Environmental will have acquired the expertise and in-depth knowledge needed to provide a wide array of bioaerosol services that are useful to any potential clientstargeted specifically at their needs.

Information about the services our environmental consultants can provide can be found here

Albions ABC of Waste Management – L Landfill Ban

Under the ban which was set by the Waste (Scotland) Regulations legislation in 2012; no biodegradable municipal waste would be allowed to be sent to landfill sites from January the 1st 2021. This ban applies to a wide range of waste types including the following European Waste Codes (EWC):

  • 20 02 01 – Biodegradable waste
  • 20 03 01 – Bulky waste
  • 20 03 01 – Mixed municipal waste
  • 19 12 10 – Combustible waste (Refuse Derived Fuel – RDF)
  • 15 01 06 – Mixed packaging.

However, there have been concerns raised in relation to local authorities and commercial waste operators in Scotland as they were deemed not to be making adequate preparations for the ban on time. A study commissioned by the Scottish Government published on April 2019 concluded that, based on 2017 figures:

  • 14 LAs, accounting for 55.5% of residual household waste (744k tonnes), have already made the financial investment to ensure solutions are in place before the ban.
  • 3 LAs (7.6% of household waste – 99k tonnes) have long term solutions in place post 2021 but no firm interim solution.
  • 6 LAs (13.3% of household waste – 177k tonnes) have an interim but no long-term solution secured.
  • 9 LAs (23.6% of household waste – 315k tonnes) have no alternative arrangements in place.

For commercial waste operators the report said that they “to do not appear yet to have made adequate preparations for the ban.” Overall, the report concluded that there would be insufficient residual waste treatment capacity in Scotland available to deal with waste generated once the ban is put in place. The extent of this gap will depend on the level of recycling that is achieved.

Highlighting concerns with the potential for Scottish residual waste be sent across the border to be landfilled in England due to the lack of progress of local authorities and commercial operators towards complying with the ban; the Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced on September 2019 that the ban will be pushed back to 2025.

While it is important that companies continue to prepare and develop infrastructure to meet the ban, the work Albion complete on waste compositional analysis for councils demonstrates there is still a lot which can be done to reduce the quantity of waste going for disposal in increase the quantity going for recycling, composting and Anaerobic Digestion. Recent analysis results continue to show –

  • 25-35% of food waste in residual waste
  • 5-15% recyclate in residual waste

Combine these results with only 55% of householders using their food waste system, would suggest there are huge areas of improvement possible.

Albion can provide you with the information you need to start introducing changes to drive consumer behaviour towards using their bins correctly and reducing disposal. We can also provide overall strategy and provide staff training to assist you in making these changes. To find out more or to have an informal chat please contact Jane Bond

Albion’s ABC of Waste Management – K KERBSIDE COLLECTION

Are You Helping or Hindering Scotland’s Recycling? How can this be improved?

  • Currently the contamination rate in the Household waste recycling streams ranges from 0.91% to 43.04%*
  • The average contamination rate for Scotland’s recycling is 17%

*These figures, provided by SEPA, do not include waste that was so badly contaminated it does not make it to the recycling facility and instead is sent to energy from waste facilities or landfill.

Contamination in the recyclate waste streams is currently plaguing Scotland’s recycling efforts.  Plastic is the main problem with people finding it difficult to determine which plastics are recyclable due to the range of plastic polymers and differences between recycling schemes. The BBC have estimated that incorrect recycling/disposal of plastics alone costs Scottish councils about eleven million pounds per year.

Kerbside collection of recyclable material generates income for local authorities. The better quality produced; the higher price councils will receive. If household residents do not separate the recyclable materials, or put the wrong items in the recycling bin, then the whole vehicle load of recycling may be contaminated and sent to landfill or incineration. As a result, the council will not receive revenue for the material and they will also pay the landfill cost.

Is Scotland Reaching its Domestic Recycling Targets?

  • Currently only 44% of domestic waste is put in the recycling bins
  • Scotland is working towards a 70% recycling target by 2025

It is clear that Scotland needs to increase both the quality and quantity of its domestic recyclate. How can this gap be narrowed? Education in the benefits of improving the quality of recycling is required across all councils. A poll conducted by Viridor in Scotland found; 77% of people would recycle more if they could see how the money saved was being invested in public services at a local level. The pending Scottish landfill ban will only increase the importance of achieving this target. When the Scottish landfill ban is implemented in 2025 it will be in councils’ best interest to do everything in their power to increase the recycling rate of their residents in order to keep residual disposal cost to a minimum.

How the Recycling System Should Work.

Most councils recognise the following materials as recyclates and will offer a collection service for; Glass, Plastic, Metal, Paper and Card, Garden Waste and Food Waste. In an attempt to improve recyclate quality and quantity councils are moving away from comingled recycling, thus simplifying the sorting process. The recyclate is collected, separated on a picking line and then bulked to be transported to the end buyer.

*Scottish Environment Protection (SEPA)

Why Should You Recycle?

Financial Benefits– Councils use profits generated to subsidise their costs which can reduce any potential increases in council tax for residents.

Environmental Benefits– Recycling reduces pollution caused from collecting new materials while conserving natural resources.

Social Benefits– Some councils give a percentage of recycling profits as charitable donations and others use savings generated to subsides other local programmes and projects.

What Can Albion Do?

  • Albion can provide councils with a range of services to help improve councils waste management services.
  • We can work with councils to develop waste management strategies to reform waste collection services with the aim of increasing recycling rates while reducing long term operating costs.
  • We can undertake waste analysis via sampling which identifies council’s current contamination rates of both their residual and recyclates, and provides vital information to aid decision making. The results of this analysis can be used to identify areas where improvements can be made.

To find out more or to have an informal chat please contact Jane Bond on 01292 610428.

TRAIN THE TRAINER

Albion staff successfully achieve accredited Scottish Qualification Certificate in HE0T 33 Planning and Delivering Training Sessions to Groups giving them the confidence and skill set to be able to deliver training sessions to our clients.

The qualification is intended for candidates with vocational expertise or subject knowledge whose job role includes the training of others in small group settings (minimum four, maximum seven learners) and in work related learning contexts. It is also suitable for those who aspire to a training role, or who expect to have some responsibility for training as part of a future job role. To find out more please contact us.

Congratulations to Jane Bond (Project & Business Development Director), Andrew Howlett (Principal Consultant), Fraser Christie (Environmental Consultant and Site Technician) and Chris Eccles (Environmental Technician) on their success.

Thank you to trainers Craig Chandler and Davie Fraser for their enthusiastic course delivery on what is a very interactive and engaging course.

Albion’s ABC of Waste Management – I INNOVATION

Innovation is fundamental in transforming the way we use resources within Scotland. Effectively managing our resources is imperative to achieving a circular economy in Scotland. Therefore, some benefits of innovation mirror the advantages gained from a circular economy, such as

  • Environmental – safeguarding resources & lowering reliance on them; reducing waste generated; decreased carbon emissions
  • Economic – improving productivity and resilience; opening up new markets
  • Social – added lower cost options for accessing goods; social enterprise opportunities

A number of businesses have already taken novel and creative approaches to try to achieve a more “circular” operation. There are multiple ways for an organisation to implement more circular initiatives, simultaneously becoming more sustainable, including:

  1. Strategies to reduce consumption – such as the 5p bag charge, which reduced plastic bag usage considerably across the UK – thereby reducing waste and the associated problems
  2. Where it is not possible to lower the level of waste generated, the waste hierarchy should be used to determine how best to manage waste. Organisations should understand the benefits of managing their waste in the best way possible
  3. Some companies reduce the waste they create by altering their business models to try to re-use more items, to divert waste from landfills. For instance, Spruce Carpets are a community enterprise that refurbish and deliver used carpets, giving them a new home instead of throwing them away. CCL North offer a secure option for recycling and refurbishing IT, which means that valuable materials can be retained instead of discarded.
  4. Additionally, redesigning products to ensure that certain components last longer can be an effective means for reducing waste. EGG Lighting, for example, have developed a circular business model whereby only the LED and driver parts of lighting units are replaced, and the rest remains in use. Through their lighting service, businesses can regularly upgrade their lighting technology without replacing entire lighting units, minimising waste generated.
  5. Waste can be seen from a new perspective – it can be a resource that is put to good use. Multiple groups have achieved this, such as Aurora Sustainability (use coffee waste and heat from whiskey distilleries to produce gourmet mushrooms) and Jaw Brew (partnered with Aulds the Bakers to create a zero-waste, vegan beer made from leftover bread rolls).

Clearly, innovation is a great tool for helping society move towards a more circular economy. However, many of the ideas discussed above require more than just innovative thinking; a background knowledge of waste management is also important. Various waste training courses are available to provide an understanding of waste management legislation, – something that may be vital to those wishing to recirculate waste items by using them in their production streams. More information on waste training courses can be found here:

Additionally, if companies wish to redesign their business model to reduce the waste they produce, then conducting a waste analysis can act as an extremely helpful step in determining which waste materials to target. Here at Albion, we can provide a waste analysis – a tool which can be very useful for helping design recyling scheme. For more information please please get in contact or call us to discuss on 01292 610428.