Category Archives: Environmental Management Systems

Albion’s ABC of Waste Management – O – Open Windrow Composting

Organic waste can be treated through physical, chemical, or biological forms of waste management. The fundamental aim of organic treatment is to degrade the easily available compounds; stabilise the material; and reduce its volume. Biological treatment includes composting, which has multiple benefits, including:

  • Employment opportunities
  • Reduction of waste to landfill/incineration, which helps control greenhouse gas emissions
  • Recovery of useful organic matter for use as soil amendment, assisting with soil quality improvement (increasingly important due to intensive cultivation and climate change)
  • Stabilisation of waste in order to remove pathogens

Commercial-scale composting is available in two forms – open air windrows (organic materials are placed in long heaps) or in-vessel systems (material is enclosed). In-vessel composting is often used to handle food wastes and animal by-products, as this option isolates the waste from the environment, and people. This is important as these wastes have a higher risk of containing pathogens, compared to garden wastes.

Garden wastes contain items such as twigs, leaves, grass clippings, and also larger items like tree stumps, which are broken down prior to the composting treatment through shredding. These materials are often collected via garden waste kerbside collections or recycling centres, and they are an ideal feedstock material for open-air windrow composting.

PAS100 (Publicly Available Specification for Composted Materials) is a recognised set of standards laid out as guidance for organics recycling. The standards specify that compost reaches a minimum of 60˚C for at least 7 days, to inactivate any pathogens that may be present within the waste. Once composting is complete, the product is graded and sold. This allows any contaminants or materials not quite broken down to be removed. The compost sold can be used as agricultural soil conditioners, or for gardening purposes, or may even be used on golf courses.

However, there can be some issues with composting – for example, concerns over heavy metal pollution of agricultural soils due to composts containing contaminants such as metals and plastic, which may then have a pathway to enter the food chain. Composting sites may also create issues with odours, noise, vermin, VOCs, and bioaerosols – the latter of which arises due to micro-organisms within the waste.

Composting encourages micro-organisms to grow, as these are crucial to actually break the waste down. For composting to be efficient, the material needs to be well-aerated, so these micro-organisms have access to oxygen. Open windrows are aerated by regularly turning material. Additionally, compost is often screened (sieved) to produce the end-product – a quality soil supplement. These processes, along with shredding of large items within incoming waste, all involve handling the compost and moving the material, which can generate dust, and create bioaerosols.

Bioaerosols have the potential to present environmental issues and occupational hazards at any waste treatment facility, if it handles large quantities of organic material. A number of serious health effects, including respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, have been linked to high bioaerosol concentrations. As such, composting sites may be required to conduct bioaerosol monitoring, in order to manage the risk of bioaerosols.

In Scotland, composting sites must have a Waste Management Licence (or they will require an exemption). SEPA licences composting sites, and when doing so, they must consider the issue of bioaerosols. In England, sites carry out monitoring according to standards from The Environment Agency. A site’s operations and the amount and type of waste it handles, its possible high-risk areas, and the guidance provided by the relevant environmental authority, are all things that a site may factor in when considering which type of bioaerosol monitoring they want to conduct.

Albion can supply consultants with the knowledge and expertise necessary for conducting a range of bioaerosol assessments, including:

  • Occupational bioaerosol monitoring – assesses exposure for site staff
  • Environmental monitoring – determines possible exposure levels at residencies or workplaces near the site
  • Site-specific bioaerosol risk assessments

By analysing the risks associated with bioaerosols at a certain site, and who may be affected by them, we can then also provide guidance on how to manage and lower a site’s bioaerosol emissions. Albion Environmental has a number of environmental monitoring specialists, trained to complete a wide range of services within the field of environmental monitoring, including those related to bioaerosols. Find out more about the environmental work we do 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

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.

University West of Scotland Lectures – Waste and Resource Management

Alasdair presents lecture to University of the West of Scotland (UWoS) students on Waste Management.

All too often the focus in developing countries is building roads, schools, houses etc. and good waste management is often forgotten. Using his experience from travelling to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Alasdair put in context the difficulties faced by developing countries.

What is more important?

  • A new road
  • A hospital
  • Clean drinking water
  • Waste management

In many cases it is all of them!

Frequently, the international community focuses on the environmental improvements generated by good waste management practice, however, often there are even more important public health issues such as contamination of water, contamination of land and crops, indiscriminate burning of waste, so first and foremost waste management should be dealt with as a public health issue.

As these countries become more prosperous, their buying power increases and the variety and type of plastic increases, further exacerbating the problem.

Much of the waste currently in the oceans is from countries such as DRC where waste is discarded, washed into streams and rivers and finally into the sea and the oceans.

Alasdair finishes by giving some examples of excellent work which is going on and how if viewed as an opportunity to improve public health and create earning opportunities many developing countries can have top class waste management systems which would also meet their environmental objectives.

For more information please contact us or call 01292 610428.

 

Jonathan Love Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary with Albion

It is with great pleasure Albion Environmental Ltd are celebrating Jonathan’s 10 years’ service with the company. When Jonathan joined the company in 2008, it comprised of 4 employees with the head office based in rented office space. Through the years Albion has grown steadily moving to its newly refurbished office “Albion House” in 2013. In 2017 an extension was added to increase office space and improve the onsite training facility. We now have a staff of 14.

Jonathan joined the company as an environmental assistant to implement the Environmental Management System ISO 14001 at Levenseat. During his time Jonathan has continued to manage Levenseats environmental management system with the recent successful transition to 2015 standards and now working towards a combined 14001 and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems ISO 45001:2018 system. John has also managed our Business Management System which is accredited to ISO.

Jonathan holds the following Certificates of Technical Competence: Managing Treatment Non-Hazardous Waste, Managing Landfill Non-Hazardous Waste, Managing Transfer Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Waste, and is currently progressing to Chartered IOSH status.

Key areas of expertise include waste compositional analysis, environmental monitoring and Health, Safety and environmental auditing, compliance and preparation of documents.

It is estimated that Jonathan has managed waste analysis projects sorting through over 300 tonnes of waste. He does grumble about it but secretly he enjoys being the “rubbish expert!!”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Jonathan for his continued support and loyalty to the company over the years.

Contact 01292 610428 or mailto:info@albion-environmental.co.uk