Saturday, 12 January 2019

No wonder we are drowning in plastic!

As 2019 dawns after all the media coverage of the plastic issue in 2018 then we all must look at the waste we produce - only then will we understand what needs to change.
As luck would have it back in January 2018 seeing all the plastic film I appeared to generate that couldn't be recycled I decided to collect all of this plastic over the period of the year - limiting it mainly to outer wrappers on many products which either showed no recycling information or claimed the material could not currently be recycled.
As 2019 then dawned how much waste material had I gathered from myself and my family of cats?
A blend mainly of chocolate bar outers, biscuit packs, oven chip packaging and cat food outers along with some clear vegetable packaging I was struck by a few things. Firstly I eat to much chocolate - but then really I always knew that but more importantly how little of this material is recyclable - or even marked with any recycling information.
Sorting through the waste was quite an insight - if it was a chocolate bar outer it almost always carried no recycling information.
This led to me sorting out a whole bin bag full of wrappers displaying no recycling info
How could it be that in 2018 such big name producers of chocolate products as Nestle, Cadbury and Mars could get away with this?
There was one or two glimmers of hope as it became clear some of the waste - some biscuit wrappers and chocolate bar wrappers marketed by the likes of Mcvities could potentially be recycled if they were sent to a business called Terracycle - which specialises in recycling hard to recycle products which cannot be recycled at the kerbside - but even with Terracycle it is not an ideal situation to have to create waste to recycle waste - by shipping waste back to Terracycle.
This then also left me with a collection of rather stretchy plastic film packaging that looked very much like LDPE plastic - but even though it LOOKED like it once again the packaging either said nothing about recyclability or stated it wasn't currently recycled.
Much of this waste was found to be Sainsburys home brand products - all stretchy plastics but all claiming not currently recycled.
It was time to investigate - and I didn't have to look far to be able to confirm that yes that stretchy plastic that kind of looked like LDPE plastic WAS LDPE plastic - and so could actually be recycled at supermarket carrier bag recycling points. But why market products in your stores which CAN be recycled and then not show this on the packaging?
Other big brand similar products also displaying either questionable recycling information or no information marketed by McCains (oven chips), Aunt Bessies (oven chips) and Butchers Pet Care (outer cling wrap on multi pack cat food) have all now been confirmed by the manufacturers as also being LDPE so yet more waste I thought was not recyclable will be going to a supermarket recycling point soon - lets empty the bath!
But just like a bath tub there is an issue with recycling plastic film that's left me feeling a bit drained!
A number of waste management companies now claim that there is no market for plastic film - even if collected for recycling.
How can we be in a position where it is considered better to make plastic film from new raw materials than to recycle waste plastic back into new replacement products?
Then we wonder why so much waste goes to landfill and incineration!

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The brown bin charge is dead! Long live free recycling!

The brown bin recycling charge has been binned in the city of Derby UK!
Turning the tide of charges for garden waste collection which is gradually crippling recycling in the UK
 (as recycling is based on weight and garden waste is a heavy component of any recycling scheme)
The Conservative council which was voted into power in the May local election put forward in their election manifesto a return to a free collection.
Prior to this the poor residents of the city had to pay £40 for the service which didn't even last all year!
Back in 2012/13 the council collected almost 20,000 tonnes of garden and food waste which was sent for in vessel composting outside of the city via a free service.
Fast forward to 2017/18 and that tonnage had shrunk to less that 4,400 tonnes of waste composted which was clearly linked to not just the £40 charge but also the fact food waste was no longer accepted and the service was restricted to specific 32 weeks of the year.
The charge had devastated the recycling rate at Derby City Council and it is now hoped this will help recycling turn a corner in the city.
The return of food waste collections in with the garden waste collection over the full 52 week year takes us back in a positive direction which was previously removed because food waste cannot be processed in a charged for service due to government regulation.
Recent residual waste surveys carried out in the city by the council identified that a massive 44% of waste gathered in the cities residual waste bins was garden and food waste.
In 2017/18 the city paid just £31.53 per tonne for its garden waste to be composted in an in vessel process at Ashbourne in Derbyshire.
This compares to the same waste entering the Resource Recovery Solutions residual waste contract where total contract waste costs for 2017/18 were roughly £91.57 per tonne -
a difference of around £60.
A return to a recycling rate of 20,000 tonnes could save the council over £900,000 per year! the council could save a great deal more if it diverted the 44% of compostable garden and food waste from the residual waste bin into the brown composting bin.
Well it could but there is a catch !

Currently the residual waste is sent to be burnt in a D10 disposal gasification incineration plant in Sinfin, Derby.
The council is paying a set fee of £25 million towards the plants construction - which is hopelessly behind schedule.
The less waste that the council sends to that plant the more per tonne fee that becomes when you add the cost to the per tonne charge the council will pay.
The council has contractually agreed to send waste of specific characteristics to be burnt in Sinfin and that includes an agreement to supply waste of a minimum biodegradable content - along with other specific requirements.
The following statement from the brown bin cabinet document shows how the incineration plant contract has its claws into the garden waste recycling project.

Any reduction in biodegradable content sent by the council to the Sinfin Lane plant in Derby will be looked on in a bad way by the operator of the residual waste contract - Resource Recovery Solutions (Derbyshire) or as we know them RRS because in a twist they have been awarded ROCs - Renewable Obligation Certificates for electricity generated from the burning of the biodegradable waste - ROCs have a value and RRS will be able to bank them!
Paying a government bung for burning such waste in an inefficient disposal plant basically rewards FAILURE!


Sunday, 14 October 2018


People who say it is good to burn compostable waste as it creates renewable energy are talking rot !
In the city of Derby UK a waste gasification incineration plant is under construction and one of the driving forces behind the development are government bungs known as ROCs for energy generated by burning biodegradable waste.
You can read more about ROCs and the Sinfin Lane waste gasification plant here-
Judging by the amount of odour complaints about the plant before the plant is fully operational there is certainly something rotten about the proposal.
The council in Derby changed to a Conservative administration in May 2018 and part of their electioneering was to state they would return to a free garden waste collection service - after the previous Labour council removed the free garden and food waste service which had run all year and replaced it with a charged for service (£40) for a garden waste only part year service.
With the prospect of a return to a free service brings with it the ability to also accept food waste in the cities brown bin recycling scheme. Ever since the free collection was removed the council still continued to send garden waste to Vital Earth at Ashbourne in Derbyshire which runs an in vessel composting process which produces a sterile product from garden and food waste.
The key point here however is that when there was a charged for service the council could not collect food waste in the same recycling bin because it would be considered that the council was also charging for food waste collections - which is not legal under government regulations on waste disposal. Common sense should say that the food waste was an extra to the charged for garden service - which could have been seen as good as it would have diverted biodegradable waste from landfill and incineration but here at the Rubbish Blog we don't set government regulation.
The public of Derby will now be expecting the election pledge by the now Conservative council in the city to be put in place as soon as possible and there is talk of this happening in 2019 however little evidence of this proposal is currently in the public domain.
Residual waste inspections carried out in the city in Summer 2017 have led to a better understanding of what is the composition of the waste Derby residents place in their black residual waste bins.
What we know is that around 44% of the waste heading to the Sinfin waste incineration plant is a mix of garden and food waste.
So what is likely sinking in with Derby City Council is that there is 44% of their waste being shipped to be burnt in Sinfin which could potentially be processed a lot cheaper at Vital Earth in Ashbourne where the councils garden waste was composted in 2017/18 for just £31.53 per tonne after the council got a generous rebate of £10 per tonne of waste shipped to the site.
But how can the council make use of this cheap service - which would also boost the cities recycling rate by a vast amount when they are contractually required to feed the Sinfin waste incineration plant?
They are not only required in the contract to procure waste of specific characteristics, organic content, moisture content etc but also when investing a lump sum of £25 million into the project the lower the amount of waste sent to Sinfin the higher the per tonne cost the council faces when we divide the payment by tonnage sent which then undermines the councils business case.
Almost ten years down the line with the incineration plant still not handed over not only does the plant itself stink but so does the project the council has signed up to.


Monday, 7 May 2018

Get ya ROCs off!

On April 30th 2018 Resource Recovery Solutions Derbyshire Ltd (RRS) announced that their controversial waste gasification incineration plant had been granted ROCs - Renewable Obligation Certificates for the electrical energy they will produce from the biodegradable aspect of household waste which the plant will take in for burning.
Renewi one of the parent companies of RRS released a press release relating to the granting of ROCs to the Sinfin Lane, Derby project which contain quite a degree of hot air.
They stated that "Up to 98% of the residual waste managed at the facility will be diverted from landfill, which will also generate enough green electricity to power approximately 14,000 homes."
While the plant may generate enough electricity for 14,000 homes - that is yet to be shown one thing is for sure - an unconfirmed percentage of the power generated will come not from so called green electricity - which is considered by the likes of OFGEM as biodegradable wastes being combusted but in fact non biodegradable waste such as plastics - ie fossil fuels.
It is fact (confirmed via FOI/EIR) that in the city of Derby 9,000 properties have no recycling scheme in place - after Derby City Council removed the service stating recycling bin contamination as an excuse.
What this means is that a percentage of waste entering the Sinfin facility will have had no prior recycling applied to it. Paper and card should have been recycled removing it from the residual waste stream entering the Sinfin site in Derby. Instead such material is condemned to be burnt to generate OFGEM funded electricity via ROC payments - ROCs being funded from green charges applied to our energy bills.
Has recycling been removed in the city to procure suitable waste to generate lucrative ROC payments?

Someone called James Priestley said the following-

James Priestley, Managing Director of Renewi’s Municipal Division, said:

 “We are delighted to have been awarded this important ROCs accreditation which is another significant milestone achieved in this project. Not only does this accreditation bring financial support to the project, it also shows how we are using innovative technologies to operate sustainably, divert waste from landfill and create valuable products from waste. We are looking forward to completing the final stages of commissioning and to providing first class, sustainable waste services for the people of Derby and Derbyshire.”
  Now when you use the terms innovative and first class you think ground breaking and efficient and you could be forgiven for thinking this applied in the Derby projects case but the reality is somewhat different.
At the second public inquiry into the project the planning inspector required RRS to provide evidence of their projects energy efficiency status - an important aspect of the project which was a useful insight into the project.

At the second public inquiry RRS were forced to admit that
 in the plants standard electricity only mode their plant was in fact nothing more than what is known as a D10 disposal plant because the energy efficiency status of the process falls below that which would class the plant as an efficient recovery process.

To see what the Waste Framework Directive says about a plant being recovery R1 or disposal D10 below is a series of quotes from the directive.

Recovery or disposal – the meaning of R1

47. The Waste Framework Directive (WFD) sets out the waste hierarchy and enshrines it in law. It requires that a waste management route defined as recovery should be used ahead of an alternative that is classified as disposal. Exceptions can be made (see below) but this general principle makes it important to know whether a process is considered recovery or disposal. 

48. Historically the Waste Framework Directives have included annexes which set out lists of what are considered to be recovery or disposal operations. Each is given a number and a letter: R for recovery, D for disposal. In the current directive the classifications of particular relevance to energy from waste are: • R1 – Use principally as a fuel or other means to generate energy • D10 – Incineration on land 

49. What this means is that where waste is burnt as a fuel to generate energy it can potentially be considered a recovery operation (R1) but where the purpose of incineration is to get rid of waste, it is considered D10 and hence disposal.  All municipal waste incinerators were and are deemed as disposal activities (D10) unless and until they are shown to meet the requirements of R1. This is why the term R1 often crops up in the debate about how good an energy from waste plant might be and how it compares to other options. 

50. For municipal solid waste, which includes all the waste collected from households, the EU has gone further by defining what it considers to be sufficient for recovery status under R1. The WFD includes a formula relating to the efficiency of the combustion plant. A municipal waste combustion plant can only be considered to be a recovery operation under R1 if it generates energy and the plant meets the efficiency thresholds calculated using the R1 formula


Why are OFGEM supporting inefficient waste gasification incineration plants? the lure of lucrative subsidies in this case in Sinfin Derby has in part led to the route this project has taken which is condemning resources to being burnt for a small amount of energy made financially viable by government subsidy.

OFGEM are rewarding failure.


Sunday, 18 March 2018


So it would be rude not to take a look at Derby City Council who are busily promoting this day on their twitter feed.
Let's take a look at the city and its recent exposure on the BBC News website regarding the fall in recycling in 14 million homes in the UK.
When considering league tables usually the higher you, your team OR in this case your local council are towards the top of the league this is considered better - its the target.  But when that league table is a table of FAILING councils and in this case the decline in the councils ability to recycle the last thing you want is to be at the top of your league!
In recent weeks the BBC has published an article about household waste recycling rates
This is an in depth report into the fall in recycling rates in England and can be read here
What the article highlights is that Derby - the home of this blog had the 2nd biggest decline in recycling between 2011/12 and 2016/17 and the articles graph on this subject is reproduced here please visit the link above to read the full story.
Source - BBC NEWS
What this shows is that Derby came second only to Hartlepool when it came to the collapse in recycling. If the data was pushed back to 2010/11 that collapse would be even greater. For a wider look at recycling rates in Derby the image below sets out recycling right back to 2005/6.
What the graph above shows is that the 2016/17 recycling rate was actually lower than the 2007/8 rate for recycling meaning in the course of the last nine years in Derby UK we got nowhere!
The BBC article reports how Derby city council stated-
"its recycling rates had fallen after it made changes to its recycling collection services in 2014, but said rates had increased in the past two years.
It said it had taken away "kerbside blue bin recycling" from some areas of the city "due to high levels of contamination" but was "reaching out" to people who had put the non-recyclable rubbish in the wrong bin."
The reality is that the councils recycling service started to decline after a peak of 48% in 2010/11 which was prior to changes made by the council.
The introduction of a controversial garden waste charge scheme led to high volumes of previously recycled garden and food waste being diverted into the residual black bin. Recycling rates are based on weight and so garden and food waste play a key part in recycling schemes.
Although this slaughtered the councils recycling rate they also removed recycling from large areas of the city claiming residents contaminated their recycling bins. The BBC article implies that the council said it was reaching out to people who had put the non recyclable rubbish in the wrong bin.
It is not clear what the council is trying to do by making such claims - a recent FOI / EIR request confirmed that circa 9,000 properties did not have a kerbside recycling collection and it should also be noted that the bring sites installed as replacements are being removed due to them becoming fly tip grot spots. The council removed the blue bin recycling service - they are not reaching out to anyone and recently refused my requests for the service to be returned to the communities now new Public Protection Officers are working in the city to address bins on streets etc
You can read more about that here
It may be #GlobalRecyclingDay but here in Derby UK the council is top of the league in excuses as to WHY their recycling is so poor. 

Saturday, 3 February 2018


Nine years after the Sinfin incineration plant project became the hottest topic in the
Derby City Council planning department Resource Recovery Solutions or at least one of its parents Interserve have finally struck the match to light up the waste plants burners.
Interserve - a major player in construction projects across the UK and a parent of Resource Recovery Solutions (RRS) has been on the ropes in the last year or so as they suffered a number of problems in their energy from waste project portfolio with strong links to the collapse of ENERGOS the incineration technology developers for the Sinfin plant.
In the case of the Sinfin project Interserve and Renewi the other parent in this project have relied heavily on the experiences of two other projects in the UK in Milton Keynes and Glasgow which also use Energos technology. In the case of the Glasgow project who also employed Interserve to construct the plant Interserve suffered the ultimate shame of being thrown off the project.
Because of the collapse of ENERGOS and its claimed updated technology contractors have had to work through the plants installation learning from the experiences of the likes of the Milton Keynes facility.
Thank god we were able to delay the plant long enough that ENERGOS collapsed otherwise the Sinfin plant in Derby would already be polluting the city.
As it stands the Sinfin project has begun some forms of testing.
 The plant has started accepting waste again which is being converted into refuse derived fuel known as RDF. This "fuel" is currently being exported off site while the incineration section of the plant begins the warm up process so that it is able to be tested before becoming operational later in 2018.
We are told that currently the plant is using its diesel fuelled backup burners to warm the incineration lines up and that steam is being generated for steam blows to clean out the plants systems.
Emissions relating to this have been seen leaving the plants stack in recent weeks as shown below when in the early stages emissions were just a lazy flow.
As time has passed the plant has vastly ramped up its emissions which included steam being vented at low level from the rear of the plant.
Things developed further and in recent days the volume of steam being emitted from the rear of the plant around the cooling system reached far beyond what local people expected and in one case someone called the fire brigade thinking that the plant was on fire.
The plant unlike energy from waste plants in Holland etc has installed a giant cooling plant at the back of the plant to cool the steam produced after it has been used in the plants turbine. In Holland they use that energy in the steam to heat local buildings to get worth from the waste that was burnt. Here in Derby we waste that energy to the atmosphere which is quite shameful and why the plant is considered to be an inefficient D10 waste disposal plant compared to an R1 recovery facility.
While the contractor RRS indicates it has notified the fire service and also local businesses it isn't clear what if anything they have done to notify local residents in the likes of Victory Road and Sinfin Lane in relation to the large volume steam vents.
You would expect a contractor working for the local council would show the local community - its neighbours more respect than this.
In the coming weeks the plant will be testing its turbine to prove it can generate electricity and this includes providing proof to meet the requirements for ROC accreditation (but that's another story).
Then the contractor has to make the plant run for 25 years successfully - and within 10 working days of handover both the city and county council have to stump up £25 MILLION towards the plant.
Locals are steaming about this and the burners have only just been lit!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Recycling! now is the time to give it back!

My previous blog post placed focus on the two faces of recycling in Derby UK.
On the one hand as Zero Waste Week was taking place the council was using social media to project an image of its recycling success while at the same time hundreds if not thousands of Derby residents in areas such as Normanton and Arboretum ward had had their kerbside recycling service removed a few years back. EIR / FOI data shows there are actually around 9,000 properties without a blue bin recycling service in the city. 
You can read more about the two faces of Derby recycling here-

The importance of recycling cannot be ignored - both from a sustainability aspect and a financial aspect as it is so much cheaper to recycle than to send waste to landfill or incineration.
The removal of recycling in the city was carried out for some questionable reasons in recent years and one thought is that this was an attempt to procure a feedstock for the controversial Sinfin waste gasification incineration plant in the city which is due to start operation soon.
They failed to address recycling contamination issues in those areas, left recycling bins festering for weeks if not months and then claimed contamination was a serious issue.
Contamination IS a serious issue if you do not address the issue!
The councils answer was to remove the service - quite convenient when you need to procure waste to burn!
What happened was they convinced other Derby residents that residents in the areas in question either didn't care or were to stupid to understand how to recycle!
The council was then able to sweep away the blue bin recycling service in many streets even though it was shown via FOI that they had no evidence to justify the service removal when the council targeted my own street - thankfully in my case they did not remove the service.
Replacement bring sites were put in place finally to provide some form of service for those who wanted to recycle.
What they actually did was install prime fly tip hot spots such as this one at Grove Street carpark in the Arboretum ward.

One of the saddest sights I have seen at a recycling site in recent times was a bag of plastic recyclables left at the bring site above which will have had no chance of being recycled because the bins were full and fly tipping surrounded the site.
The fact someone went to this trouble shows people care! The note on the bag says PLASTIC.

With the bring sites becoming quite a state 2-3 of the sites were removed by the council - once again condemning residents to having no recycling service.
This prompted me to put a question to the council cabinet member for waste Cllr Asaf Afzal at a recent Full Council meeting in the city regarding bring site provision. 
Question from Simon Bacon to Councillor Afzal
The city council removed the bring recycling site on Havelock Road in Normanton due to fly tip issues. This means that local residents have no ability to recycle their rubbish. When will the city council be replacing this bring site with an alternative site in that area of the community?
As you have mentioned these sites have attracted fly tipping. The council do not intend to replace any of the bring sites with alternative sites due to the costs and resources needed to maintain them.

From this we can see that the council does not care that their residents have had their ability to recycle removed as it is a case of - no its gone and your not getting it back!

But in recent months the council has done something positive which is to finally listen to local people who pushed for fly tip and wheeled bin enforcement in the city.
Enforcement of the wheeled bins - where residents are issued section 46 notices advising them that they can only have their waste bins in the streets at specific times.
In my view one of the biggest issues with bins on streets is the fact that this led to recycling bins being contaminated - as people passing in the street used them as normal bins for litter or fly tippers made use of the fact they could place whole bags of mixed waste in the bins.
So considering that the council now had staff in place to improve the street scene by targeting bins on streets but also importantly that these same staff were engaging with residents what better time could there be to use the enforcement staff to provide information on recycling at the same time they engaged with residents about their bins - an all in one process which would both address bins on streets and recycling contamination issues.
 once carried out in an area it would seem sensible to put back in place the blue bin recycling scheme due to the reduced risk of bin contamination and the fact that recycling is so much cheaper
So the question had to be posed!

Question from Simon Bacon to Councillor Afzal

With the successful work being carried out by the councils new Community Protection Officers to remove bins off streets in areas such as Normanton, will the council now return the blue bin recycling service to the streets targeted by the CPOs due to the reduced risk of bin contamination?

The contamination levels of the blue bins were very high. It is the council's intention not to return the blue bin recycling scheme to these areas as it proved expensive to operate and administer.
What we have is a council that for some reason does not want to recycle! its recycling rate has collapsed in recent years and surely the return of a service taking us back in the right direction - A CHEAPER SERVICE should be the way forward.