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 pence 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 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.


Monday, 4 September 2017

The two faces of recycling in Derby UK

The recycling rate for Derby UK in recent years has been pretty dire! since the removal of the free garden and food waste recycling scheme and its replacement with just a simple paid for garden waste scheme the recycling rate went into freefall! pushed on yet further by removal of recycling services completely in some areas of the city due to claims of bin contamination.
When the council caught on to the fact that residents were monitoring the recycling rate via council cabinet documents they promptly removed the data from the council cabinet score cards!
The council is to some degree pegging its hopes on a claimed 7-8% recycling rate at the controversial Sinfin, Derby incineration plant where rigid plastics and metals are to be extracted for recycling before the rest is burnt - but until that site is up and running that material is out of reach.
With Recycle Week on the way Derby City Council on social media are putting on a recycling face such as here on Facebook!
In a similar vein on Twitter they are also putting forward a green front
With Zero Waste week here the council is also promoting that on Twitter
Has the council had a road to Damascus change of heart regarding recycling or is it just a cynical ploy to make it look like recycling matters to them?
But what are the realities for some residents living in the city?
The council drive to recycle isn't always all it is cracked up to be!
Vast areas of the city had their blue bin recycling scheme removed when the council said residents were contaminating their recycling bins.
 The pitiful replacement bring sites the council has installed have simply become fly tip hotspots.
This site on Havelock Road in Normanton ward rapidly became a fly tip hot spot

So the council removed it - meaning residents totally lost their ability to recycle -

On a similar theme at Grove Street in the Arboretum ward the council also installed a fly tip hot spot
and if the council doesn't empty the recycling site when full what message does it send to the public?

Some residents care enough to gather their plastics and even mark the bags as plastics in a vain hope that what they are taking to the recycling site will be successfully recycled.
Meanwhile over in Hampden Street, Normanton bin contamination led to rejected bins - but at no point in the six weeks that three blue bins sat festering on the street did the councils bin men tag the bins as contaminated!
 then all of a sudden the bin men emptied two of the bins even though they still contained the same level of contamination that must have led to their rejection.

So the social media front is of a council looking to promote recycling -
 something that they have not gone out of their way to do in recent times but out on the street residents who feel they have a right to recycle still suffer a 2nd class service with random bring sites that are then either removed or simply not maintained to a high standard.
In some cases residents do not even get a 2nd class service -


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Hidden contracts! the public strikes back!

On 22nd October 2015 I Simon Bacon the writer of this blog applied to Derby City Council in Derby UK via FOI / EIR requesting the following information relating to the controversial joint waste contract linked to the highly controversial Sinfin, Derby gasification incineration plant.
 Derby City Council responded on 17th December 2015 in which it disclosed some of the requested information but withheld some of the information in part 2 of the request claiming the adverse affect to the confidentiality of commercial information. What was provided was a series of documents with many redacted (blacked out pages) where the council and its supporters - Derbyshire County Council and Resource Recovery Solutions edited the documents to hide certain aspects of the documents which they did not want the public to see.
Here are a couple of examples from schedule 14 of the contract which covers the performance mechanism.

As you can see from the images when they redact information they really black it out!
I appealed this ruling and Derby City Council carried out an internal review and responded to me on December 24th 2015 that it maintained this position.

Having considered this battle of wills further I made a complaint against Derby City Council on 22nd February 2016 to the ICO - the Information Commissioner. The ICO then gave full consideration to my strongly put appeal while engaging with Derby City Council further.
The council and its fellow contract members attempted to paint a picture which included impacts on interests of Resource Recovery Solutions (RRS) siting that the withheld information included price mechanisms, volume allocations and proprietary contract tools and processes.
The council argued that RRS operated in a competitive waste market and disclosure would allow competitors to work out the deal and how it was structured resulting in a loss of its competitive edge.
The council went on to argue that the Sinfin waste sites novel nature has the capacity to become a "BEACON OF EXCELLENCE"
ENERGOS the developer of the incineration equipment being installed into this beacon of excellence had gone into administration in mid July 2016.
It was suggested that the competitors of RRS would benefit from the unique know how contained within the information and thus undermine the ability of RRS to utilise this for its own benefit damaging its commercial interests.
Other than the Derby, Glasgow and Milton Keynes projects that have moved ahead there is little evidence of other projects moving forward using such technology and in recent weeks a proposal to install similar tech on the Isle of Wight has been dropped - so not quite the beacon being suggested.

The ICO asked the council to provide a new schedule setting out in each instance the councils rationale for withholding information so that it matched the specific parts of the documents. Having been given further time to do so the council advised it had approached RRS and Derbyshire County Council but that they had declined to provide any further arguments or clarification.
The ICO in their ruling considered that the lack of clarity in the councils submissions suggests that the council either does not properly understand what the effects of disclosure would be or has struggled to meet the evidential and explanatory burden set by the exception.
 On 4th August 2016 the Information commissioner at the ICO RULED IN MY FAVOUR instructing Derby City Council to disclose the withheld information to myself as the complainant.
In early September 2016 Derby City Council was in no mood to lose their battle again a resident of Derby so instructed its legal team to appeal the ICO ruling and so work started on a legal appeal.

I as the original applicant was also in no mood to lose the battle and so registered as a party to the appeal which WAS set to be heard later in 2017 in London UK. After a delay of a number of months as two similar cases passed through the tribunal system the Derby case began to move forward.

In recent months a similar case relating to an incineration plant in Gloucestershire and its associated contract pretty much ruled in the original applicants favour - while the council in that case attempted to put a brave face on things while putting some spin on the ruling the applicants in Gloucestershire are very happy with the result of their battle. A similar ruling regarding an incineration plant contract in Worcestershire also placed pressure on Derby City Council who were then set a date by the General Regulatory Chamber who were running the appeal by Derby City Council where the council had to acknowledge if it proposed to continue with their appeal.
So two other appeals went against the local councils which forced Derby City Council into a corner over their appeal against the ICO ruling.
 Did they continue or did they rollover!

The councils legal team made the following statements when terminating the councils appeal.
"Our clients have been carrying out a fresh, detailed, careful and considered review of the disputed information with all interested parties taking into account the passage of time and developments since the initial request and the commencement of the Appeal.
Having concluded that reassessment and made recommendations accordingly, the interested parties have respectively reached agreed conclusions and advised the relevant public authority which has been able to make an updated decision on disclosure as a result.
Our clients have invested a great deal of time in reaching this decision and it is not one that has been taken lightly. Despite considering that much of the disputed information remains commercially sensitive and confidential, given the time that has now passed since the original request for information by the applicant and taking into consideration the current stage the facilities are now at, the likelihood of probable harm from disclosure of the disputed information into the public domain has reduced.
As a result our clients have asked us to confirm that the disputed information will be disclosed in its entirety. "
 Derby City Council admitted at a recent full council meeting that they and their supporters - Derbyshire County Council and RRS / SHANKS had already spent £20,000 on their fight to keep aspects of the Derby and Derbyshire waste contract secret - hidden away from the public. In a strange twist they appeared to be suggesting to the local newspaper the Derby Telegraph that they had NOT paid £20,000 to stop me from gaining a copy of the contracts as reported here
The council was simply playing with words - £20,000 was spent but the city council only paid a third of the payment!

What are they trying to hide from the residents of Derby and Derbyshire ? what is so controversial that they redact whole pages of their waste contract ?  In these times of austerity and government cuts surely the public have a right to know what their taxes are being spent on.