Norfolk to begin co-mingling glass

All eight councils of the Norfolk Waste Partnership (NWP) are to begin co-mingling glass in collections of dry recyclables from 1 October 2014, following a new waste contract agreement.

Currently, all the councils (Norfolk County Council and Breckland, Broadland, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, North Norfolk, Norwich City and South Norfolk Councils) collect card, paper, cans and plastic bottles in co-mingled bins, with Norwich City Council also collecting glass (via a separate recycling box).

However, from 1 October, all Norfolk residents will be able to place glass in their co-mingling bins, as well as plastic pots, tubs and trays and cartons.

According to the partnership, the new service could increase recycling by between five and 10 per cent across the county.

MRF updates to 'meet quality requirement'

The move comes despite new Waste Regulations coming into force in 2015 that require local authorities in England and Wales to separately collect paper, metal, glass and plastic by January 2015 when it is necessary to ‘facilitate or improve recovery’ and are ‘technically, environmentally and economically practicable’ (TEEP). 

However, Councillor Brian Long, Vice Chair of the Norfolk Waste Partnership and Cabinet Member for Environment at the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk told Resource that updates being made to the Costessey materials recovery facility (MRF) run by Norfolk Environmental Waste Services Ltd (NEWS) would mean that the quality of the material coming out of the MRF would be “far in excess of what is needed”.

He said: “We wouldn’t have locked into a 10-year contract if we weren’t satisfied it were legally compliant. I’ve been to look at the updates to the MRF and I’ve not seen a cleaner stream of newspaper coming out of a co-mingled plant.

“I’m confident that the quality of what’s coming out of the MRF is far in excess of what is needed. We have a clean and environmental recycling product that is good enough to go straight to market, which is what we’ve driven to do in West Norfolk in any case.

“We’re confident that what we’ve done is appropriate.”

Adrian Akester, Technical Representative for NWP, added: “As part of the tender process, contractors were required to demonstrate they could sort material to give a quality product for reprocessors to use. As a result, investment in the sorting equipment will see the very latest technology being installed at the site which will have the capability of ensuring sorted material is of the quality required by the end markets. The district authorities are currently undertaking a TEEP exercise following the Route Map launched by WRAP owing to the lack of guidance from DEFRA on what is considered to be technically, environmentally and economically practicable.”

Any profits from the NEWS operation will be shared between the NWP councils and Norse Waste Solutions (Norse), as they are all shareholders of NEWS.

The installation of ‘improved technology’ at the MRF is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

‘A massive change’

NWP says it expects the new system to ‘benefit all Norfolk residents’ as it will help support waste and recycling services throughout the county.

Speaking of the new service, Councillor John Fisher, Chair of the NWP, said: "This is really exciting news for Norfolk residents. All the districts, along with Norfolk County Council, have worked together to negotiate a new contract, which means that materials that people have wanted to be able to recycle for some time can now be recycled using the kerbside collection service. With the new contract in place, investment has been made in the processing facility and the new technology used means that many more items can now be processed for recycling."

He added: "This new service represents a massive change for the majority of our residents. Only residents in Norwich had a glass collection previously, but even for them, being able to put glass bottles and jars in the same bin will make recycling so much easier.”

Collection days will remain the same and current bins provided will remain in use. However, if residents find that their wheelie bin is too small for all their recycling, NWP advises that a cardboard box or clear bag can be placed next to the bin for collection.

It is warning, though, that glass cannot be placed loose as side waste and must be placed in the blue bin. Residents are also being reminded that the lid of the bin must be closed if it is to be emptied.

Those living in Norwich will no longer need to use the green recycling box (which was used to collect glass), but the council has said that residents can keep these and ‘use them for whatever [they] like’.

Fisher concluded: "We want people to take note and from 1 October to start collecting their new recycling along with their existing. All we ask is that food residue is rinsed off any containers, bottles or jars before placing them loose in the bin. Clean recycling has a greater value and helps prevent bins from becoming smelly and by leaving the items loose in the bin, they can be easily sorted. Items in bags cannot be sorted effectively by the equipment and may be rejected."

Norse estate waste contract

As well as the household contract, Norse Waste Solutions has agreed a four-year agreement with Norfolk County Council to supply waste collection services to its estate of over 160 properties, which includes libraries, fire stations, social services buildings, museums and civic premises.

Commenting on the new deal, Ian Barnett, general manager of Norse Waste Solutions, said: “One of the key factors in securing this agreement, was the company’s ability to demonstrate sustainable end-markets for recyclates via its sister organisation Norse Environmental Waste Services.

“The fact that we collect separate waste streams and employ VWS Enviroweigh systems on all our vehicles, allowing us to capture individual bin weights using chipped bins and provide accurate data on recycling levels, also offer the council significant benefits.”

Waste contract difficulties

Norfolk’s waste contracts have hit headlines in recent months after Norfolk County Council decided earlier this year to abandon its incineration contract with Cory Wheelabrator.

The controversial decision was taken after it was found that for every day the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, delayed making a decision on the plant’s planning permission, it cost the council £140,000.

As Pickles had not revealed when a decision would be made, the council decided to break its contract to protect it from further costs.

As such, it has had to pay £20.3 million of capped compensation to Cory Wheelabrator, as well as public inquiry costs of £1.6 million, and exchange rate and interest rate related costs of £8.36 million, bringing the total to around £30 million. It has now signed a deal with Suffolk County Council that will see a proportion of its residual waste sent to Suffolk for incineration.

On top of this, the council was criticised by MPs in February 2014 after it proposed introducing a charge for using household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs). If established, a £2 charge would be incurred on residents wanting to use nine of the county’s 20 HWRCs from April 2015.  

More information about the recycling changes will be available on the Recycle for Norfolk website from 22 September.

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