Putting waste in the frame
In February, Pembrokeshire County Council launched a new residual waste treatment framework agreement for Welsh local authorities. Annie Kane learns more about how it works
In February of this year, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion councils jointly launched Wales’s first framework agreement for residual waste treatment.
Developed for the two councils by environmental consultancy Eunomia, the framework allows any local authority in Wales to buy waste treatment services from one of seven suppliers: two national waste management companies, two regional players, two Dutch incinerator operators, and a Scandinavian supplier with operations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
Dan John, Project Manager at Pembrokeshire County Council, tells me the framework came about in response to the financial and performance pressures faced by local authorities in Wales. He explains: “Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion have a long history of working together and sharing resources in terms of procurement and other areas, and we thought that if we included the scope of other authorities in Wales in our procurement choices, we could all benefit from the cost savings from economies of scale...
“So, we commissioned Eunomia to design, manage and deliver a residual waste treatment procurement framework. They came up with the idea of the actual structure of the framework, but it was our decision to share the opportunity to realise the cost savings, community benefits and landfill diversion routes with other local authorities, and to include the request for a solution with strong environmental benefits.”
Any Welsh councils interested in procuring a residual waste treatment contract can apply to John to have its current costs and disposal routes assessed, before receiving a businesse case detailing what the framework could provide.
He explains: “Once the council has made a decision, it can either make a direct award to the highest ranked contractor on the framework, or undertake a mini competition from all seven contractors based on a statement of requirements – so all the suppliers on that framework can then bid for the work.”
John reveals that by using the framework for their 15-year residual waste treatment contracts, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion will each save over £350,000 per annum by diverting waste from landfill. Instead, waste will be processed at Potters Waste Management’s sites in Pembroke Port and Lampeter, where recyclable materials will be removed before material is shredded to form refuse-derived fuel (RDF). This will be baled and wrapped before being exported to Sweden to power combined heat and power (CHP) plants, with export scheduled to start in June.
“Swedish incinerators are more efficient than the ones in the UK, as they produce heat for district heating networks and therefore recoup more energy from the waste than we would be able to here in the UK”, explains John. “As the waste is being used to create renewable energy, we’re making environmental savings, as well as economic savings. The reduced waste management cost is fantastic for us and may enable us to invest in other schemes that will boost our recycling rates.”
He added that, as well as financial and environmental benefits, the framework will create 11 jobs at Pembroke Dock and in local haulage, as well as providing councils with a simplified waste treatment tendering process, and offering a flexible approach to diverting waste from landfill in the short-term, thus “avoiding a situation where councils are committing too much waste to incineration in the long term, which can impact recycling rates”.
In the meantime, the council is also assessing whether separate collections of dry recycling materials are technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP), which could also impact future recycling rates. The council currently operates a co-mingled collection of dry recyclables (with separate collections of glass and food), and John tells me: “We’re open-minded and await to see if this assessment indicates a different direction of travel in terms of the collection service we operate.”