The Waste Management Strategy for Essex
Essex households create 720,000 tonnes of rubbish a year, about half a tonne for each resident, and this figure is rising each year. Although residents are recycling more, nearly three quarters of household rubbish is still sent for disposal in landfill sites and this is where the problem lies.
When rubbish rots down in landfill sites it produces gases which cause global warming. The European Union countries have agreed to tackle this problem by making sure that each country cuts down the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites. To ensure the UK meets its target, each County Council has been set a limit on the amount it can landfill. If Essex County Council goes over this limit it will be fined. So it is important for the Environment and for the Council Tax bill that we change the way we manage our rubbish. This is a golden opportunity to start treating rubbish as a resource whose true value we capture rather than waste.
A Waste Management Strategy has been prepared which explains how the Essex Councils will work together to make these changes happen. The following is a summary of the strategy.
In Essex we are proposing to limit landfilling by;
- Encouraging residents to create less rubbish and re-use or recycle more, rather than throw things away. Avoiding excess packaging when shopping will always help.
- Encouraging residents to make use of kerbside recycling collections and recycling sites. Essex Councils are going to expect households to meet ambitious recycling targets. Ideally, we should all recycle and compost about half of our rubbish and we have a longer term vision to reach 60% recycling/composting.
- Sending non-recycled rubbish to new bio-treatment plants, a new type of technology to the UK. In bio-treatment plants, rubbish can be treated in a variety of ways, typically it is pulped and gases are drawn off the generate heat and electricity. There are other outputs such as material for fertilisers. At the end of the process there is still some rubbish left over which will need to the sent to landfill or could be used in other processes.
- Increasing the amount of food waste we compost by collecting kitchen scraps as well as garden waste and sending them to a new type of facility known as 'in-vessel' composting plants. This will help increase the amount of rubbish composted in the short to medium term, before bio-treatment plants are built.
- Given the size of Essex, it is likely that we would need 3 bio-treatment plants along with other facilities like composting plants and sites where the rubbish can be "bulked" for more efficient transportation. The more plants there are, the shorter the distance that rubbish has to travel before it gets processed.
- All the new rubbish facilities will be provided through long term contracts with waste companies and the contracts will be paid for by Government Grants and by the Council Tax. These costs of managing waste will rise with these new, more environmentally responsible arrangements, but not by as much as they would rise if the Essex Councils simply carried on with the existing arrangements.
- The Waste Strategy will be reviewed every 5 years to keep it up to date with any changes in the law and any other changes in the way rubbish is collected and processed.
- Essex Councils will put pressure on the national government to do more to reduce the packaging on things that we buy in the shops.
For more information please visit the Essex County Council website.