Agenda item

Future Domestic Refuse Collection Service - Presentation


The Committee considered a joint presentation from Mr Carl Beer, Chief Executive, Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority and Mr Mike Cockburn, Senior Manager Waste & Environment; Environmental Services on the future domestic refuse collection services.   


Mr Beer gave the Committee some background information on the joint recycling and waste management strategy indicating that the current strategy was five years old and was currently under review.


He commented that the Authority was currently working with Merseytravel on the potential for using food waste to generate biogas, which can be used as a vehicle fuel.


Mr Beer indicated that up to 85% of the material delivered by householders to Household Waste Recycling Centres was re-used or recycled. Two Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) at Bidston and Gillmoss sorted the co-mingled recyclates collected by Merseyside Councils; refuse not recycled is now being sent to a Rail Transfer Loading Station at Kirkby, and then on trains to the Energy from Waste plant in Wilton, Teesside.


He explained that the Wilton Energy from Waste plant is a combined heat and power (CHP) facility had been commissioned by MRWA for Merseyside and Halton authorities through the Resource Recovery Contract (RRC). It is anticipated that this would be fully operational by October/November 2016.


The Authority supported various community projects via its Community Fund with the aim to encourage people to recycle and re-use, giving advice and guidance.


The presentation detailed the comparative recycling rates across the neighbouring Authorities, with Wirral comparing well against neighbouring authorities.


In relation to residual waste, Mr Beer commented that it costs more to disposal of non-recycling waste than it does for recycling and therefore incurred a higher levy charge. The Wirral kerbside waste results for 2015/16 indicated that residual waste was the highest, of which 36% being food waste and 13% being avoidable food waste. He indicated that 5.5% of all kerbside waste was potentially reusable. According to the ACORN figures the most deprived areas of the borough had the highest percentage of avoidable food wastage.


Mr Beer concluded his presentation by highlighting the Authority’s collection strategy considerations and future plans which included waste prevention, recycling and re-use targets.


Following on from Mr Beer’s presentation, the Committee received a presentation from Mr Mike Cockburn, Senior Manager Waste & Environment on the options for future domestic refuse collection services in Wirral.


Mr Cockburn highlighted the rationale for change which included the obligation to increase recycling rates to 50% by 2020 and the need for a major system change to meet the target.


Mr Cockburn gave Members an overview of the options and informed that the outline business case was agreed by Cabinet who instructed officers to carry out a full business case to be considered by Cabinet in early November 2016. He further outlined that the full business case is being delivered internally but would also be scrutinised externally by waste industry experts.


Mr Cockburn concluded by highlighting the project outcomes, cost benefit analysis and the implementation plan.


In response to a Members question regarding target figures for recycling, Mr Beer explained that the national UK figure was agreed with Europe, with a five year strategy to reach 50% by 2020. He commented that Wirral had set its own 50% target but there was not clear how the Government intends to administer the target. Europe had stated that, as a member state, the UK would be fined for those targets not met, but there was no information to say that the UK as a whole would fail to reach the target. Given the vote on Brexit this may change.


In response to Members comments regarding the reported reduction in recycling rates from 2013/2014 through to 2015/16, Mr Cockburn indicated that this was due to the introduction of subscriptions for the garden waste collection service; people not taking up garden waste subscriptions had driven down the recycling the Council’s performance by approximately 4%.


In response to a Member’s question regarding the segregation of waste, Mr Beer indicated that card and paper could easily be done and prices for those materials were good, but some types of hard plastic would be difficult to separate and command only a very low market price. In the current market it was not value for money and therefore there was not a strong case to do this.


In relation to the facilities that use waste to make gas and energy, Mr Beer indicated that the MRWA organises this for a number of local councils. The current facility is based in Halton and treats food waste by Anaerobic Digestion.


Mr Beer indicated that in relation to clothing waste, commodity prices rise and fall therefore there was a lot of wastage; the biggest carbon footprint was from textiles thrown into refuse. This was largely down to education. There was a need to inform people of the best way to dispose of their unwanted textiles/clothes encouraging them to recycle by giving them to charity shops etc. There was also a need to increase the opportunities for people to donate. He indicated there was a small community fund available and asked the Members to think about those organisations who could help the Authority with its Waste Strategy.


In response to a Members question, Mr Cockburn indicated that officers within the department would be building up the approach to the preferred option, making sure it was high profile and highlighting the fact that Wirral was not the first authority to do this; there would be a huge consultation/communication drive, advertising etc. There would be increased support for residents during the roll out.


Mr Beer reiterated the importance of that public engagement and commented feedback to residents was key.


In relation to producer responsibility there were calls to enhance this for e.g. reduction in packaging, Government were currently being asked to consider options including moving more  costs from  Local Authorities to  producers.




That Mr C Beer and Mr M Cockburn be thanked for their informative presentation.