Somerset Waste Partnership seeks landfill alternatives

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) is asking for waste treatment suppliers to suggest alternatives to landfill for the disposal of more than 120,000 tonnes of its annual refuse.

Somerset Waste Partnership seeks landfill alternatives

The group, which is the joint-partnership between five Somerset districts (Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, West Somerset and Taunton Deane) and Somerset County Council, currently spends £12 million a year on landfill.

However, due to reductions in budget in recent years, it is aiming to save at least £1.3 million a year by moving away from dumping its residual waste. The partnership has stated that despite it finding that landfill was the most cost-effective treatment for residual waste in 2010, the development of new facilities across the country and export markets for refuse-derived fuel (RDF) mean that this data is now ‘outdated’.

As such, SWP’s governing Somerset Waste Board (SWB), a joint committee of the six councils, had asked its contracted waste firm Viridor for costed alternatives, but agreed earlier this year to seek other options after the waste management company’s suggestions ‘did not meet its desired criteria’.

The partnership has now announced that the procurement process for residual waste treatment has begun. It has not specified any preferred technology or location.

Changes will not affect residents

During the search, Viridor will continue to send waste the county’s two existing landfill sites at Bridgwater and Carymoor, as well as all other waste management services, which are not under threat.

The SWP’s ‘strategic partnering agreement’ with Viridor for residual waste, garden waste composting and recycling sites has been in place since May 2006 and runs to 2022, with an extended agreement for the Walpole anaerobic digestion facility running to 2031.

Commenting on the move to consult other treatment suppliers, SWP Managing Director Steve Read said: “This decision only involves the residual waste disposal side of our contract with Viridor and nothing else. Residents will see no changes.

“The original proposal from Viridor did not reflect what the board believes the wider market could offer and so it decided to suspend its exclusive deal with the firm.”

SWP food waste campaign increases recycling by 20 per cent

Meanwhile, SWP has also announced that its recent food waste campaign targeting 115,000 households in Somerset has produced ‘encouraging’ results.

The campaign involved a ‘no food waste’ sticker being placed on refuse bins, an advice leaflet emphasising that all food can be recycled, and a one-off short supply of free compostable liners for food waste containers.

Compared to baseline figures gained from earlier trials,  SWP has found that food waste recycling in Taunton Deane, Sedgemoor and Chard-Ilminster has increased by 20 per cent since March 2015.

It is estimated that should that rate be maintained, an extra 1,570 tonnes of food would be recycled, saving Somerset council tax payers £51,000 every year.

Plans are now being made to extend elements of the campaign throughout Somerset in the coming months. Data procured from the food waste campaign will then ‘feed into the far wider discussions about the future of recycling and refuse services in the county from 2016/17’.

Responding to the results of the recent campaign, Read said: “This is a great result thanks to impressive efforts by families to waste less, recycle more and save cash.

“While we are keen that people waste less food, and compost what they can, any and all remaining food waste must avoid the rubbish bin and be recycled. Let’s keep at it.”

Find out more about the Somerset Waste Partnership.

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