Five Clyde Valley councils partner with Viridor to redirect landfill waste for recycling
Five Scottish councils have signed a waste recovery contract worth £700 million with waste management firm Viridor, which will collect and recycle the districts’ municipal waste that was previously destined for landfill.
The contract will run for 25 years and is to begin on December 1, 2019. The councils in North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and North Ayrshire are all part of the new deal, which was negotiated for and signed by head council authority in the Clyde Valley, North Lanarkshire.
Viridor will be responsible for collecting municipal waste from the partner districts; the waste will then be taken for recycling at Viridor’s plant in Bargeddie, North Lanarkshire. Any surplus waste that is not suitable for recycling will be sent to Viridor’s waste to energy facility, which is to be built in Dunbar, East Lothian.
North Lanarkshire council expects 190,000 tonnes of waste to be collected for recycling, which was previously going to landfill sites, costing the local authorities landfill tax and damaging the environment. According to Viridor director, Paul Ringham, the firm hopes to redirect 90 per cent of the partner councils’ waste from landfill sites.
The partnership between the Scottish councils is the first to come about since Sir John Arbuthnott, former chairman of the Greater Glasgow Health Board, suggested in a 2009 review that Clyde Valley councils could benefit financially from working together.
Council leader for North Lanarkshire, Jim Logue, said: “This is an important contract in terms of the scale of waste processing and environmental benefits. By working in partnership, we are delivering improved services for residents, best value for taxpayers, creating new jobs and recycling more waste which would otherwise go to landfill.”
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Charities could suffer as the council considers scrapping the recycling scheme
North Yorkshire County Council has announced proposals to end its recycling reward scheme which could negatively impact organisations, including charities, which collect and sell on unwanted waste items.
The council is considering cutting the scheme as senior councillors argue that it is “not key” to reaching recycling targets and the monetary awards handed out by the council can no longer be justified, as budgetary consequences must be considered.
The council’s recycling scheme allows charities and organisations to collect waste goods, including paper, textiles, toys, etc, and sell them on to raise charitable funds. North Yorkshire County Council rewards the organisations with cash bonuses as they are helping the council reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.
According to figures released by North Yorkshire County Council, it has handed out more than £111,000 per year in recent years to charities and organisations as part of the recycling scheme, however, financial considerations “suggests that the scheme can no longer be protected”.
Senior councillors have produced a report which details the reasons for the proposal and why they support the closing of the scheme. The councillors who approve of the proposal have argued that charities and other organisations will continue to collect the saleable waste regardless of council rewards and therefore recycling rates will not be affected.
However, two charities from the area, Essential Needs in Harrogate and Whitby Area Development Trust, have already claimed that the end of the scheme would mean the end of their charitable efforts as they could not survive.
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Japanese scientists discover new PET eating bacteria
According to scientists, a new bacteria has emerged which has the ability to eat the troublesome PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastics that are plaguing the globe.
PET plastics present a particular problem to the world, as they are difficult to recycle. Figures shows that 56 million tonnes of PET plastic was produced in 2013 but only 2.2million of that was recycled, while the rest made its way to overcrowded landfill sites or the world’s oceans.
A team of Japanese scientists at Kyoto Institute of Technology have discovered a new bacteria which they say eats away at PET plastic using two enzymes. The researchers believe that the PET eating bacteria, which they named Ideonella sakaiensi, must have evolved over time as the man-made PET plastic was only invented in 1941.
According to the scientists, Ideonella sakaiensi uses two enzymes to break down the PET until it becomes two harmless substances, terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, which the bacteria then feeds on.
Koehi Oda, one of the researchers who discovered the bacteria, said: “We have to improve the bacterium to make it more powerful, and genetic engineering might be applicable here.”
The original report, published in the journal Science, says that at present the newly discovered bacteria can eat away a finger-nail sized section of PET within six weeks. At that rate, Ideonella sakaiensi would not make much of a headway with the thousands of tonnes of plastic waste produced globally each year.
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A skip hire company has called on the government to reimburse flood effected councils their landfill tax payments in the midst of the major clean-up operations which are being carried out throughout the UK.
More than 16,000 homes were flooded in December as the UK suffered one of the wettest Decembers yet recorded in British history. Northern England and Scotland were the most effected areas, with Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Cumbria, Dumfries, and Kinross bearing the brunt of the nasty weather.
Now that the big clean-up is underway and families and businesses must dispose of ruined furniture, white goods and electrical items, which, under government regulations, are now considered hazardous waste and must be taken to landfill rather than recycled.
Tractors and trailers in Carlisle, Cumbria, have collected more than 1,050 tonnes of waste from households and businesses. This waste has been taken to temporary tipping grounds, including a car park, until the councils have assessed the damage and decided upon the best solution for the disposal of so much hazardous waste.
At the present time, councils in England must pay £82.60 landfill tax per tonne of waste, but, considering the nature of this emergency, there have been numerous calls for the government to “ … consider all reasonable means of supporting local authority areas which have been affected by the floods”