Tuesday 19th February 2008
CRR joins LGA in Congratulating Households on Good Sorting – But Questions LGA Figures
The Campaign for Real Recycling today joined the Local Government Association in congratulating householders on their participation in domestic recycling. This follows an LGA statement last week in which householders were praised for getting the right materials in the right containers and in which the LGA claimed high tonnages recycled by local authorities with low reject rates.
Andy Moore, CRR coordinator said: “Householders are the key agents in domestic recycling. They are capable of complicated choices for the right motives when offered the right information and the right opportunity. Source-separated collections make the best use of this intelligence and willingness and result in almost no rejection of material.”
However, the CRR seriously questioned the LGA interpretation of the figures.
Andy Moore explained: “We think the LGA must have double counted. Taking the spreadsheet they indicate on their website, they have totted up the tonnage of all the authorities to obtain the 13 million tonne figure. The note at the top of the page is clear that the WCA figures are already included in the WDA ones. The column includes tonnage figures from both collection and disposal authorities (the latter in purple), so most of the tonnage has been counted twice.
“Moreover, the information may also be misleading as the reject data only describes material that has actually been rejected at the end facility, taking no cognisance of the contamination levels of accepted loads, which at times can be very high. It is clear from the information that there are many local authorities who do not report any levels of rejection. It may be that some are exceedingly good, or have a MRF that either doesn’t manage contamination on incoming loads, or doesn’t reject for contamination. Even more significant, these figures represent tonnage sent for recycling, reuse or composting, but are not necessarily indicative that these processes have been completed. It tells us nothing about the contamination level of the resulting material reaching the reprocessor or indeed, how much the reprocessor ends up rejecting. We’d be delighted if reject rates were as low as 1.6% but sadly we’re sure they’re still rather higher than that. We’d be pleased to meet Councillor Bettison to discuss measurement methodology at some point.”
Eric Randall of Bryson Recycling in Belfast added: “Reject rates for co-mingled/MRF collection systems are always higher than for source-separated ones. We pride ourselves that our MRF is run well and we have a very strict policy for incoming loads, but the contamination rates we achieve are still averaging around 6-8%. On the whole, source-separation improves national rejection rate figures, whereas co-mingling worsens them.”
The data used by the LGA, taken from Defra’s WasteDataFlow, is as yet unvalidated. The Environment Agency will audit it later in the year.
Information for Editors:
1. The Campaign for Real Recycling wants central government and local authorities to act urgently to improve the quality of materials collected for recycling in the UK. Real recycling is about maximising the economic, environmental and social benefits of recycling for everyone, from the local council tax payer to the global re-processing industry. Our concern is that collection systems that gather a range of different materials in one bag or bin and then compact them could permanently undermine the environmental and financial benefits of recycling. Our campaign aims to influence local authority policy and practice, and build consensus within the UK of the economic and environmental importance of highly separated collections.
2. The LGA press release can be found at: http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=234141
3. Campaign for Real Recycling supporters include: