The more I attend these meetings the more I realise how complex the issue of waste is. Its truly mind boggling. It’s compounded that we are trying to make one clear workable and understood policy post the recent massive changes to local Government in Cornwall.
This is made more difficult with National and European targets. For example the Government Waste Strategy 2007 for recycling of Municipal, Commercial and Industrial Waste requires that Cornwall Council to have a household recycling rate of 40% by 2010, 45% by 2015 and 50% by 2020. Currently Cornwall Council achieves a rate of 37% (rising to 38% this year).
Due to different contracts that Cornwall Council can’t get out of we wont be able to have a fully integrated kerbside waste collection until 2012. The work for this has to start now and be ready for adoption then. The aim of any policy is to reduce the amount we stick in the ground as landfill. This is done by Recycling. At present we are not bad at it with a 37% rate, but there is still room for improvement.
In 2008/2009 725kg of waste (black bag) was produced per household. This has reduced for 2009/2010 down to 700kg per household. In anyone’s book this is still to much to simply stick in the ground. Garden waste equates to 33,426 tonnes of waste produced (2009/2010). Luckily, 27,306 tonnes of this has been diverted from landfill in the way of composting methods. That still leaves 6,120 tonnes that end up in a hole. Of course garden waste will degrade, but its costs £48 per tonnes to place it in the ground. Worse, is if you go over your allowed limits this figure raises to £150 per tonne. This money could and should be saved.
The Council in the past has sold at cost certain types of Composters. Between 1996-2010 some 54,000 of these have been sold. This has resulted in 71,000 tonnes being diverted for that period. Current estimates predict that 8,000 tonnes per year is being diverted using this method. When you start to add up these figures you take a large gulp of air and realise just how much money would have been wasted if this practice was not in operation. We can still improve on this by more people using composters.
Another way of reducing waste is to re-use the items. The old saying of ones mans junk is anothers treasure. It was a very handy practice of allowing people to take away items at the Recycling Centres. This stopped because of Heath and Safety rules. Cornwall Council is looking into ways of adopting a scheme that would not breach Health and Safety rules. That in its self is never an easy task, but that’s not to say it should not be attempted. In 2009/2010 roughly 241 tonnes of material was re-used via the Council managed channels. Its estimated that another 2% – 5% of municipal waste could be re-used.
I think we all have a duty to recycle better. Not just because it will save help the planet, but to better use the public’s money better. Always willing to hear other peoples views.