Recycling reward scheme

May 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Residents in Lambeth who recycle waste each week will be awarded points by the London Council that can be redeemed as vouchers for shopping and recreational activities.

The initiative has seen the London borough team up with Recyclebank, who offer rewards and loyalty schemes to the environmentally conscious. The recently launched programme is aimed at residents living on housing estates to begin with and if successful, it will be extended to the whole community within 12 months, said Lambeth Council.

The implementation of the Recyclebank scheme, in partnership with waste management provider, Veolia Environmental Services (VEP), is part of Lambeth Council’s plans to encourage its residents to recycle and reduce the amount it spends on waste. Its residents are the first in London to adopt the scheme.

According to Lambeth Council, the programme will enable 51,000 housing estate properties to start earning points for recycling waste and in return be rewarded for their efforts. Residents could save up to £75 a year to spend in restaurants or when buying clothes or books, said the Council.

VEP explained that residents will be able to let Recyclebank know that they have recycled each week by phone, on-line or by using a free iPhone application. Those who choose to join the scheme will receive 300 bonus points on registration and 10 points each week that they report their recycling.

As many as 100 local reward partners have been recruited to take part in the scheme, as well as several national partners such as Coca Cola and Marks and Spencer.

Sue Igoe, UK managing director of Recyclebank said that Lambeth was the first borough to introduce the “new community solution” and that the scheme had been developed to “tackle the challenging issues of recycling in flats head on”.

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Tesco bans council recycling bins in its car parks

May 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Supermarket giant Tesco is forcing councils around the UK to remove their recycling bins from their car parks by June of this year. The company wants to install and profit from its own recycling facilities (installed by contractor DS Smith). There will be no visible difference for consumers at first: they will have access to Tesco’s high tech recycling bins that scan items one by one and “decide” if they are suitable for recycling. These bins can receive plastic, cans and glass, but not paper.

Tesco’s decision has angered city councils as it entails losing a large amount of revenue, somewhere between £50,000 and £80,000 per year according to the Daily Mail. Indeed, in some local authorities, Tesco’s council bins have made up to 25% of recycling points.

Councils use reprocessors that convert most of the waste into reusable and sellable materials. For example, recycled paper can be used by the newspaper industry, glass can be reground into sand and plastic transformed into plastic bags. Councils have been motivated by the growing demand for recycled materials, especially paper.

Income from recycled goods is used by councils to maintain smaller recycling points, as well as to recoup sorting, processing and haulage costs. Unfortunately, Tesco’s decision may mean that ultimately shoppers lose out on some of their council services. What’s more, councils can be fined if they don’t meet recycling targets set out by the government.

The supermarket chain claims that it will invest in community projects to make up for the loss suffered by local authorities.

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Biofuel crops being grown on landfill sites

May 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm

The rising demand for biofuel has led the WRG (Waste Recycling Group) to come up with a novel way to produce its own. The group has just announced that it will be planting biofuel crops on land that was formerly being used as landfill sites.

Biofuel is being suggested as one of the solutions to global warming because it is carbon neutral – the carbon it uses to grow is then used up in the fuel, so no extra carbon gets released into the atmosphere.

The WRG has now begun to plant the biofuel crops on a total of 14 landfill sites across England, and it will harvest these once a year and sell them to Drax Power Station in Selby where they will be converted into biomass fuel.

The group carried out a test project on three hectares of land at Breighton landfill site which is located in Yorkshire. The success of this test project has led it to expand the project to 100 hectares on numerous sites.

It will be growing a combination of SRC (short rotation coppice) and miscanthus grass on the old landfill sites. It will take three years before they can first be harvested, but after that the crops will produce eight to 12 tonnes per hectare each year.

Miscanthus grass is a high-yielding crop which grows very quickly even in bad quality soil. Once planted it keeps on returning each year for up to 30 years, making it ideal for growing on the old landfill sites. Funding for the project is coming from Natural England.

The senior restoration and energy crop manager at WRT, Mark Pailing, called the project an “exciting development”.

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North-East plant proves viability of mixed plastics recycling

April 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm

A new recycling plant in Redcar on Teesside is leading the way when it comes to sorting and recycling different plastic types – an involved process that has so far proved beyond the capability of most other plants across the UK.

Since the disappearance of heavy industry in the north-east, high employment has dogged the region. For example, the closure of the world-famous Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, meant a proud workforce there was reduced from several thousand to just 200 (in 2008).

Many people either relocated south (if they could afford to), or remained in cities such as Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland (and their surrounding areas), snapping up the low number of unskilled jobs available, or simply resigning themselves to years on the dole.

The sudden creation of many green jobs on Teesside has been a revelation, therefore. The recent rescue of the Tata Steelworks in Scunthorpe (now finally in the black) created similar optimism, but with recycling being regarded by many as ‘the future’, the feeling in Redcar is that those lucky enough to have been taken on there may well enjoy secure employment for many years to come.

At the plant, workers are fully trained in all forms of plastic rescue, but the laborious process of sorting different items by hand (according to plastic-type, etc.) has been replaced by a pioneering, innovative new system where all forms of plastic are made reusable through the adoption of an integrated approach.

And so, the days of separately sorting items such as plastic bags, dessert pots, sandwich packaging, and microwave meal trays seem to have been finally consigned to history, which is not only a benefit to those working in recycling, but also to consumers (who can often be confused over which of their household waste items are recyclable, and which aren’t).

Lord Henley, the junior environment minister responsible for waste and recycling, said: “The innovative technology will make life easier for families who have puzzled over recycling their yoghurt tubs and food trays. It is also a welcome boost to green jobs in the north-east!”

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Tetra Pak sustainability concerns

April 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm

A question mark over Tetra Pak items’ sustainability is once again the ‘talk of recycling’ in the UK. With the majority of Tetra Pak recyclables being exported to Sweden for reprocessing, many local authorities in the UK are choosing not to collect Tetra Pak items at kerbside.

The lack of a domestic recycling capacity for Tetra Pak drinks cartons (since the closure of the Smith Anderson recycling plant in Fife in 2006) is forcing the company to work hard on developing a viable UK reprocessing option.

As one of the world’s foremost food processors and packagers, Tetra Pak prides itself on providing millions of people across the globe with environmentally-friendly products. Founded in 1951, Tetra Pak now operates in almost 200 markets, and employs thousands of people. They have always been recognised for their innovative approach to packaging design.

It is perhaps surprising, then, that their enviable reputation could be irreparably damaged, unless a UK reprocessing option is not established soon; after all, if Tetra Pak items are always left at kerbside (while other companies’ packaging is regularly taken away) Tetra Pak could soon be perceived as the eco-friendly processing and packaging company that’s ‘being left behind’.

After the closure of the Smith Anderson plant, Tetra Pak asked several UK paper mills to participate in ‘trials’: the mass incineration and recycling of millions of used Tetra Pak cartons of all shapes and sizes (particularly all post-consumer beverage cartons); however, this proved unsuccessful, due largely to increased energy costs.

Although shipping the used cartons to Sweden (and its neighbouring countries) obviously costs more in transport expenditure, the Scandinavian option still works out cheaper for Tetra Pak overall.

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Carbon footprint of household food waste

April 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm

The water and carbon footprint of household food waste has been recorded for the first time, showing environmental effects in the UK and globally.

A new report, jointly published by Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), claims that water used to produce food that is then wasted by UK households, amounts to 6% of the UK’s water requirements.

The water footprint from the UK is worked out by calculating the amount of water used to provide goods and services around the country. Research from the report found that the 6.2 billion cubic metres of water, used to produce 5.3 million tonnes of food that is wasted each year, is almost twice the annual household’s water usage in Britain. This works out to be approximately 243 litres per person per day.

The new research follows reports in 2009 from WWF and WRAP that identified avoidable food waste as having a value of around £12 billion, when the majority that is thrown away could have been eaten. Moreover, apart from the financial costs when food is discarded, the water and energy used to produce it is not recovered, it explained.

According to the report, food that is wasted in the UK every year, is responsible for up to approximately 3% of the UK’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions, along with those added from overseas. This is the same as the emissions created by 7 million cars each year.

In the report WWF and WRAP highlighted the importance of preventing food waste at all stages of the supply chain and said that by reducing waste from food, positive steps could be made towards addressing climate change and poor water management.

Liz Goodwin, chief executive at WRAP added that “growing concern” over the “availability of water in the UK and abroad and security of food supply”, meant that it was “vital we understood the connections between food waste, water and climate change”.

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Coca-Cola in new recycling plant project

March 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm

The quantity of plastic bottles that can be recycled in the UK is about to get a massive boost thanks to a new partnership between Coca-Cola (CCE) and ECO Plastics. The two firms have joined forces to announce the building of a new £15 million recycling facility at Hemswell in Lincolnshire which will be dedicated to recycling plastic bottles.

The new facility is part of a 10-year joint venture, and once it is up and running it will more than double the quantity of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) drinks bottles that can be recycled in the UK. Last year, 35,000 tonnes of PET was processed in the UK; once the facility is up and running that figure will rise to over 75,000 tonnes.

Coca-Cola is making a £5 million investment towards the construction of the site after the original site was destroyed by fire in August 2009. ECO Plastics will raise a further £10 million, and the facility is set to go operational in 2012, leading to the creation of 45 jobs in both the construction phase and the operational phase.

Coca-Cola stands to benefit from a regular supply of recycled PET to help it reach its target of 25% recycled plastics in its UK packaging by 2012.

The MD of ECO Plastics, Jonathan Short, said that the company was “delighted to be partnering with a company of the calibre of Coca-Cola Enterprises”. Simon Baldry, the MD of CCE GB, said that the move will help to “address the recycling challenges in this country”.

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Work starts on £80 million London recycling plant

March 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Work began recently on a new £80 million recycling plant in London which will convert waste into gas that can be used to generate electricity.

London mayor Boris Johnson was present to mark the beginning of work on the advanced gasification plant, and said that local people won’t have to worry about any rubbish that they cannot recycle going to landfill because now “it will be used to power their homes with green energy”.

The plant is being built by Bioessence East London Ltd, a renewable energy firm in Dagenham, and is one of the first such plants to be built in the UK. Once it is fully up and running in 2013 it will be able to deal with 100,000 tonnes of waste every year, converting it into 19 megawatts of energy.

The process will see residual household waste being directed to the plant, where thermal and chemical processes will be used to break it down. This will create synthetic gas which can then be used to generate electricity.

The plant received an £8.9 million loan from LWaRB (the London Waste and Recycling Board). However, this was less than the £12 million originally pledged due to budget cuts.

The chair of LWaRB, James Cleverly, said that the plant “perfectly demonstrates how waste can be used as a resource.”

On top of the power that the plant will produce, it will also lead to the creation of a number of new jobs. 25 permanent jobs will be created when it is operational, and 100 construction jobs will be created during the building stage.

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Edinburgh receives recycling boost

February 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Edinburgh is clearly a city full of residents with a green-friendly approach. That much was made clear when the council recently revealed a surprisingly high level of demand from the general public for more recycling facilities. It therefore would surely have come as music to the ears of those living in the Scottish capital that they will now be able to have batteries and plastic bottles collected for recycling from their homes, with the former now collected from blue kerbside boxes and the latter from red kerbside boxes.

Residents had previously been forced to travel to selected local shops or major council recycling centres if they wished to recycle their batteries but it isn’t just the council in Edinburgh that has identified battery recycling as one key area to address over the next five to ten years. With just 3% of batteries used in British households currently ending up in recycling plants, councils across the nation are seeking to solve a problem that can at worst lead to harmful chemical leaks that have the potential to damage the environment severely.

The local council in Edinburgh also has high hopes that the plastic bottle recycling scheme will be particularly successful, with around 275,000 tonnes of plastic used on an annual basis in the United Kingdom. This astounding figure equates to around 15 million plastic bottles each day. When you bear in mind that plastic bottles can take around 500 years to decompose in their entirety, the potential problem of not having adequate recycling facilities seems all too clear.

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Councils aim to improve waste and recycling collections

January 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Over 100 councils have signed up to the Waste Collection Commitment in order to improve residents’ satisfaction with how waste and recycling is collected throughout the UK.

The Waste Collection Commitment aims to help local authorities provide better waste and recycling services. It was launched by Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Local Government Association (LGA). Both organisations were asked to look at ways to develop recycling from a householder’s perspective.

According to WRAP, research into the Commitment was carried out in 2008 via a telephone survey of over 2000 householders, who were chosen to reflect the characteristic profile of England. Key findings from the research were developed with local authority involvement into several principles, that ultimately defined a good collection service.

WRAP explained that by signing up, councils would provide a better level of service and improve communication with their workers, so that residents would be clear about the level of service they would receive.

Wyre Borough Council recently became the 100th local authority to sign up to the Commitment. Commenting, Phillip Ward, director of local government services at WRAP, said that “reaching this milestone” was proof that local authorities were “dedicated to improving customer experience when it came to waste and recycling.”

He said that the research had also shown that “more than 80% of people were satisfied with their waste and recycling collection”. He added that they were encouraging more local authorities to review their service against “the principles of the Commitment” and to follow the lead of the other signatories.

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