Category Archives: Waste Management

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.

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)

Bioaerosols in Waste and Recycling

~ WISH have released a new informative article discussing bioaerosols in waste and recycling ~

What are Bioaerosols, where are they found, and why should I care?

  • Bioaerosols are a combination of microorganisms (bacteria, fungal spores, and other fragments of biological origin) that are suspended in air.
  • These microorganisms are naturally occurring, and when organic waste is stored for a period of time, will multiply. Hence, Bioaerosols have potential to be prevalent in enormous quantities in the waste management industry. 
  • Bioaerosols are released during the handling and processing of waste streams and can be present in any facility where waste is being moved (e.g. MBT, MRF, EFW, HWRC/CA sites).
  • Bioaerosols can cause ill health and long-term exposure may cause respiratory illness such as asthma, inflammation, irritation of airways and eyes, and gastro-intestinal disorders.

COSHH 2002 regulations consider Bioaerosols to be a substance which are hazardous to health.

What do WISH recommend you do as an employer? 

  • All waste site operations should create site and task specific risk assessments which consider bioaerosol exposure of those on site.
  • Personal monitoring of workers exposure levels should be undertaken to identify high risk activities. This involves attaching a Bioaerosol monitor to a person handling or processing waste.
  • Using data gathered by monitoring, control measures can be put in place if necessary.  
  • Data can be used for “zoning” of the site into low, medium, and high-risk areas. Risk controls can then vary between each area to suit the risk level.

For an in-depth explanation of the above, click here to read.

What do Albion think?

That monitoring Bioaerosols is very important for the following reasons:

  • Legal: to comply with permits, gain licenses, or ensure suitable risk assessments are conducted.
  • Financial: the costs of not monitoring (& managing) bioaerosols could be far higher than the costs of doing so – sites can be fined, or even face lawsuits
  • Moral: obligation to not cause harm to the environment, or put employees at risk
  • Functional: monitoring bioaerosols helps improve workplace welfare, and higher welfare is linked to better productivity

Albion also suggest that ambient monitoring be undertaken.  Ambient monitoring investigates if “sensitive receptors”, i.e. locations that are in close proximity of a waste facility are being affected by Bioaerosols.  This could be a site office or a neighbouring property for example. 

The EA already require ambient Bioaerosol monitoring at biowaste facilities that are 250m or less from a sensitive receptor.  Do you think SEPA should be following in their footsteps?

Reading this and concerned about bioaerosols in the workplace you manage? Albion have a wealth of experience undertaking personal as well as ambient bioaerosol monitoring.  Get in touch to see if we can help!

 

 

Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA)

2023 Changes to the Law regarding DGSA’s

Companies who have previously transported dangerous goods only as consignors (according to the description given in the ADR manual, “Consignor” means the enterprise which consigns dangerous goods either on its behalf or for a third party. If the transport operation is carried out under a contract for carriage, consignor means the consignor according to the contract for carriage) were not obliged to appoint a safety adviser before, but will now have to do so since 31st December 2022.

 

What is a DGSA?

A dangerous goods safety adviser is a person certified to provide advice to organisations whose activities include moving dangerous goods.  Dangerous goods are classified under ADR, which stands for the “European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road”, there are 9 classes of dangerous goods which include materials and substances from explosives, toxic substances, radioactive material to flammable liquids and solids.

In order to become a DGSA, an individual must obtain a vocational training certificate after receiving appropriate training and pass a written exam.

The DGSA is responsible for helping to prevent the risks inherent in the carriage of dangerous goods, specifically the risk to people, property and the environment.

The responsibilities of the DGSA include:

  • monitoring compliance with the requirements governing the carriage of dangerous goods
  • advising undertakings on the carriage of dangerous goods
  • preparing an annual report about the performance of the undertaking in transporting dangerous goods
  • investigating any accidents or infringements of regulations and preparing reports
  • monitoring the provision of training and advice to other staff
  • reporting of incidents and accidents to DfT

 

It is an employer’s responsibility to contract a third party to act as a DGSA for their undertaking if they do not have a member of staff trained as a DGSA.

 

A common factor in the Waste industry is the transportation of Asbestos Waste, in which there are specific Road Transport Regulations to comply with. We have compiled a quick guide which details the classification, packaging, labelling, and documentation required under ADR for the transport of Asbestos Waste.

Asbestos by Road Chart

Albion Environmental have highly experienced and certified DGSA’s who can provide consultancy support for any organisations who require a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor.