Article by Councillor Piers Bateman
The nature of things we can place into the green recyclables bin are largely dictated by what the Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) - two huge and costly industrial plants in Hampshire, built and run by Veolia, can cope with. The current MRFs, where most waste is received and sorted, are beginning to show their age and are fairly limited with what they can cope with for recycling - but so far as currently possible they sell the recycled, and recyclable stuff on the market (subject to prevailing market conditions, which are changeable from time to time), and some of those proceeds come back to HCC, and to Local Authorities - which helps keep this very expensive service cost down to an extent.
We, together with other Borough and District Authorities, are each responsible for collection of waste - in other words we are the Waste Collection Authorities (WCAs). Each WCA has its own operational methodology - operating in-house or through contracted services, with fleets of specialist vehicles best suited to the particular urban or rural environments within, and of, the respective Authorities. HCC is responsible for disposing of the collected waste, i.e. it is the Waste Disposal Authority (WDA). HCC contracts with Veolia for receiving and dealing with Disposal (and collecting from our banks and the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) for that purpose - and for Recycling - and selling what recyclable materials can be sold at the time.
Project Integra is a partnership between the 11 District/Borough authorities (the WCAs) in Hampshire, HCC (as the WDA), the Unitary Authorities of Portsmouth and Southampton, and Veolia who are the integrated waste management contractor for the partnership. Project Integra was established in the mid-1990s to deliver an integrated waste management service - such is the complexity of the operational interrelationship between the Collection and Disposal methodologies, and the huge cost involved in relation to industrial infrastructure and plant, lorry fleets and numerous operational and access issues - not to mention the substantial financial impact of ever changing market conditions relative to selling recyclable materials onward.
HCC has been pressing to get Veolia to upgrade its infrastructure to cope with a wider spectrum of items for recycling. At last we have been able to obtain HCC agreement to get Veolia to plan for a new Super MRF - with intent to cope with a much wider spectrum of recyclable materials. We have succeeded to the extent that Veolia will now be commissioned to undertake an outline costings and potential design. Veolia says the cost of altering the current MRFs would be prohibitive and uneconomic - hence the option to move towards creation of a Super MRF. Whereas sufficient is broadly known of where the Government is steering in relation waste management for Veolia to work up outline plans, firm and final plans can only be made once we know what the Government actually decides after analysing the results of the recent DEFRA consultation across the nation in respect of a proposed new Government Waste Strategy - which may be published in late 2019 or early 2020 - and which we await with closest interest! This outcome will inform the plans that our Council and the Project Integra partnership can make going forward.
Conservative Councillors of Gosport, are very engaged by the need to continue improving all aspects of the Borough's (and, indeed, Hampshire's) waste management. Meantime, we are pleased that
a. our local Household Waste Recycling Centre collects well over 90% recyclable material,
b. less than 6% of waste from Gosport goes into Landfill - together with our Hampshire partnership, being among the best performers across the country in this respect, and
c. that the rest that can't be recycled goes to Energy Recovery Facilities - which provide power to over 55,000 houses in this Region.
However, we are determined also to improve the percentage of waste that is actually recycled for further use -and - pending the Government's decision on a National Strategy, we are already working on a plan to improve this percentage by continuing to build up our very successful gardening waste club scheme, and - importantly - reducing the rate of contamination in Gosport's recycle bins; a small amount of the wrong stuff in one recycle bin down the road can easily cause the whole collection from that road to become worthless through contamination once it gets offloaded into that lorry! One of the recent actions we have taken towards reducing contamination (and thereby improve our recycle percentage significantly), is to employ additional staff within StreetScene to go into our schools and help educate young people about recycling and how to avoid contamination. Further, we are presently encouraging more work on creating clearer guidance for residents as to what can and must not be put into the recyclables bin. We have more plans, but these must await the Government's upcoming steer on the National Strategy!
Much more work is yet to be done, and most of which has to be in concert with HCC and the other Local Authorities.
I hope that the above gives a helpful outline for you in connection with matters relating to waste management.