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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.

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

COP26 Series

A campaign recap

To mark the end of the COP26 Conference in Glasgow, we are recapping our daily ‘COP26 Environment Series’ posts which we published on our social media throughout the last 12 days. If you missed our social campaign, you can see all the posts in one place right here!..

Day 1 COP26 Environment Series

‘It’s day 1 of the #COP26Glasgow conference, meaning it’s day one of our mini environmental series!

Today we are discussing the Plastic Pollution in our oceans.

Our oceans are home to essential organisms which help us breathe, provide us with food and help regulate the climate. It is essential to protect our oceans, and this starts with tighter control of wastewater disposal and to eliminate as much plastic as possible.’

Day 2 COP26 Environment Series

‘Day 2 of our #COP26 environment series highlights the issue of Deforestation and the effect it has on our climate.

Have you thought about how this may affect you or your business? Swipe through the images to find out more.’

Day 3 COP26 Environment Series

‘As another day of discussions close at #COP26, we wanted to share our Day 3 #environmentissue and highlight the need to reduce our Global Carbon Footprint.

To avoid the 2 degree rise in global temperatures, we must reduce the average global carbon footprint to under 2 tonnes per year by 2050.

There are many ways individuals and businesses can reduce their carbon footprint and build a greener economy.

Here are some handy facts and tips to keep in mind.’

Day 4 COP26 Environment Series

‘It’s Day 4 of our #COP26 environment series. Today’s topic highlights the issue of over-population, which is one of the largest contributors to climate disruption due to human-generated greenhouse gases.

There is a world-wide effort to reduce our carbon footprint, however, unsustainable human population growth massively overwhelms these efforts.’

Day 5 COP26 Environment Series

‘On Day 5 of our #COP26 environment series, we are highlighting the issue of biodiversity loss and its effect on our climate.

68% of the planets flora and fauna have been placed on the endangered list since 1971. The primary causes of biodiversity loss are influenced by the growth of human population, increased consumption, and less resource efficiency.

To help combat this, we must take action to create as many rewilding sites as possible to allow increased habitat and pollination with insects and flora being at the bottom of the wildlife food chain.’

Day 6 COP26 Environment Series

‘We have been sharing our environment series this week and will continue to do so each day of the #COP26 conference in Glasgow.

Today’s topic is Air Pollution. What are we doing that contributes to air pollution, and is there any way we can stop this? As individuals we can take steps to reducing the polluting activities, however the big changes must come from governments and corporations.

The European Green Deal (https://zcu.io/sB2o) and zero-pollution ambition are examples of great opportunities for change.’

Day 7 COP26 Environment Series

‘On day 7 of #COP26 in Glasgow, we are getting involved in the conversation by discussing the impact of #foodwaste on our climate.

As communities all over the world continue to struggle with food insecurity, we must take action and make a difference for our people and planet.’

Day 8 COP26 Environment Series

‘Day 8 of our #COP26 series. Overconsumption.

Did you really need that?

The power of advertising fuels our overconsumption, with ‘not to be missed’ deals convincing us to buy things we don’t even need.

We must be more aware of these influences and shop more sustainably. Repair and reuse where we can to help protect our planets resources.’

Day 9 COP26 Environment Series

‘Day 9 of our #COP26 Environment Series.

The spotlight shines on Glasgow on week 2 of #COP26, and as we waved goodbye to some of the world’s leaders we began to think about the impact poor governance is having on the climate crisis.

There have been many market failures which have impacted our efforts in combating climate change, with policymakers often ignoring the message to increase the price of greenhouse gas emitting activities.

Some important changes could massively help our cause.

Will #COP26 be the year the message is heard?’

Day 10 COP26 Environment Series

‘How are rising sea levels impacting our planet?

There are huge consequences to rising sea levels, which continue to effect vulnerable communities who can’t afford sustainable adaptations to protect their land & homes.’

Day 11 COP26 Environment Series

‘Today it’s only right to discuss how businesses can ensure they are being environmentally conscious.

Many of the CO2 emissions generated come from business related economic activity. However there is plenty you can do to reduce this impact!

Take a look at our blog discussing the processes we have in place to ensure we are a sustainable business: https://zcu.io/dfMJ

Day 12 COP26 Environment Series

‘Final Environmental issue discussed this series!

We couldn’t finish the series without discussing fossil fuels and their affect on climate change.

Leaders pledged to reduce carbon emissions when they signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, but have we made any progress?..’

It has been an immense pleasure to see COP26 being hosted in our hometown and we hope our mini series has provided some useful insights into the climate issues we are collectively trying to tackle. Let’s hope #COP26 in Glasgow results in some impactful decisions from our world leaders.

An update for our Candidates!

A request from The Environment Agency

Most existing waste environmental permit holders and those looking to apply for permits must comply with a government approved technical competency scheme.

The Environment Agency are looking for feedback from all in relation to the current attendance requirements of TCM’s with the aim to do the following:

  • Simplify the requirements for both industry and regulators.
  • Provide greater clarity of what the attendance requirements are.
  • Provide clarity in certain situations such as 24 operations, sites with multiple facilities on what the TCM requirement is.

This is your opportunity to ensure that revisions to the attendance requirements work for you and your industry and protect the environment and human health.

The EA would like your views on:

  • Proposed options for changes to the attendance requirements for technically competent managers.
  • Other rules associated with the attendance requirements.
  • Implementation timescales
  • What the impacts are for you

Take part in the survey by clicking on the link below.

Environmental permit competence requirements: changes to technically competent manager attendance – Page 1 of 12 – Environment Agency – Citizen Space (environment-agency.gov.uk)

Meet the Team – Issue 6

Welcome back to our ‘Meet the Team’ series, where we get to know our team in a bit more detail.

This week we are introducing you to one of our talented environmental consultants, Jill.

Jill Thomson

Environmental Consultant

A headshot picture of employee Jill Thomson

Favourite quote:May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows’ – Jason Mraz

Job Role: As an environmental consultant, my main role is to work on contaminated land projects including ground investigations, risk assessments and the provision of regular environmental advice to construction companies providing advice on remedial requirements, remedial validation, water supply pipe assessments, the reuse of site won materials, waste classification and landfill tax. I also provide assistance in other areas including the preparation of environmental monitoring annual reports, completion of waste management exemption applications etc.

Experience: I have fourteen years’ experience within the contaminated land industry, during this time I have developed my technical skills and knowledge which enables me to undertake contaminated land projects under both Part IIA and Planning regimes and within a wider environmental setting.

Favourite Project I’ve worked on at Albion: My favourite project is ongoing and involves the review of 3rd party reports to provide environmental advice for numerous residential developments usually within the Central Belt. Advice is provided on capping requirements, waste classification, landfill tax, soil management (disposal or re-use), soil gas assessment (including radon), invasive weeds and water supply pipe requirements and enables the house builder to gain a better understanding of the environmental works that may be required during the site’s development.

Get to know me: An interesting fact about me is that when I was (a lot) younger I used to be a synchronised swimmer and take part in competitions. To this day I still struggle to swim without a nose clip!

When I’m not working you’ll find me..trying to occupy my children or dog, having two young children and a dog keeps me busy. However, I do try and find time to watch a movie at the weekend.

If you’d like to get in touch with Jill regarding any projects, please email : jill@albion-environmental.co.uk 

Or connect via LinkedIn here.