Pressure to reduce waste grows
Sustainable waste management has become an essential part of protecting the environment and public health. Although Hertfordshire's waste growth rate slowed during 2005/6, we still need to explore more ways to reduce and re-use it; by buying less packaging and composting more because landfill space is running out.
The total waste produced in the county amounted to around 2 million tonnes in 2005-06 with about a quarter of it being household waste1. Whilst this was 2.3% more than the previous year, the rate of increase was slower than the 2.8% of the previous year. This reflects a national trend of slow decline in the rate of growth of household waste, however, Hertfordshire residents produced around 516 kg and each household an average of 1199 kg in the year. Over 300,000 tonnes of county household waste was disposed at facilities in North London, Bedfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
- 310,405 tonnes of waste was put into domestic dustbins - a reduction of 6.3% on 2004-05
- 48,539 tonnes was disposed of through Household Waste Recycling Centres2 (HWRCs) - 16.4% less than in the previous year
- 178,228 tonnes was recycled or composted - raising the countywide recycling rate to 33.2% from 26.7% in 2004-05.
Around 61% of the county's household waste was disposed of in landfill sites. These contracts expire soon, fewer are being created and data shows we will have very little landfill space left beyond 2008.
Indicator WS1 - Household Waste Per Capita
The 2005-06 figures show an overall increase of 1.6% when compared to the previous year.
Household waste per capita
Indicator WS2 - Waste Produced Per Household
The 2005-06 figures show a 1.6% rise with Broxbourne continuing to be the biggest producer. Only Watford showed a decline in waste produced per household over the previous year.
Waste produced per household
Indicator WS3 - Percentage of waste recycled
Recycling is an important part of successful waste management as it reduces the amount of waste to be disposed of. In terms of sustainability, it can help to protect our environment by reducing pollution and carbon emissions (see Climate Change) as well as reducing the related economic and social costs.
Local authority recycling performance
In 2005-06 33.2% of household waste was recycled and the total recycled grew to 178,000 tonnes. This is a significant achievement; not only for the growth over the previous year's 141,000 tonnes, but also for being 3.2% above the county's statutory target to raise its average recycling rate to 30% by 2005-06. This is a particular achievement since the target was one of the country's highest and demonstrates the councils' commitment to reach beyond its target. It also shows how robust the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy is in Hertfordshire and the effectiveness of the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership (HWP). This is because although the target was set for the County Council, as Waste Disposal Authority for Hertfordshire, it actually represents the combined efforts of all the county's waste authorities. To ensure that these efforts are maintained the HWP is keeping the Hertfordshire Waste Strategy up to date by having begun a review which will be followed by a full-scale public consultation in early 2007.
During the year the County Council recycled 49% of waste received at its 19 HWRCs. This suggests a growth of 1% in recycling over the previous year. Whilst this may look like poor progress, it conceals a more positive trend. This is because kerbside collections in green and organic waste were expanded across the county, reducing the amount of compostable material received at HWRCs. Furthermore, since it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much is being composted at home, rather than being recycled through HWRCs, it makes it hard to reach a total figure for recycling. The increased popularity of home composting is, nevertheless, marked through the success of the County Council's Home Composting Sponsorship Scheme. Last year it encouraged an additional 5,000 households to purchase subsidised units from district and borough councils.
Three Rivers DC staff member awarded Recycling Officer of the Year
Environmental Projects Officer, Jennie Moore, who works for WasteAware partner Three Rivers District Council, was awarded Recycling Officer of the Year at the National Recycling Awards in November 2006. Since Jennie began working for TRDC in 2003, its recycling rate has more than doubled to 40%, the highest in the county and one of the country's highest.
Hertfordshire's WasteAware campaign3, now in its ninth year, continues to raise awareness of the significant waste management issues the county faces. Through the HWP, the County Council and the 10 district and borough councils work together to boost the public's understanding of measures that must be adopted to achieve sustainable waste management. The campaign promotes the principles of the waste hierarchy to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover waste via promotional events throughout the county.
New Legislation Impacts on Waste Management
- The Landfill Allowances & Trading Scheme (LATS) introduced during the year aims to reduce biodegradable municipal waste disposed of in landfills, marking an end to local authority dependence on landfill as a primary means of disposal. Alternative methods to treating waste must be developed so the County Council began to investigate, with the HWP, the most suitable technologies of replacing existing methods. The County Council successfully complied with the Scheme's first year and is reasonably confident that its current waste management measures will continue to ensure compliance for at least another three years.
- Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations are due to come in to force in July 2007 and HWP is preparing for the radical way that TVs, fridges and washing machines will be disposed of. It concerns all those involved in manufacturing, selling, distributing, recycling or treatment of electrical and electronic equipment.
- The Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005 was extended in November 2005, it places a 'Duty of Care' on householders to ensure their rubbish is passed on to authorised waste carriers only. With fines up to £5,000, this law could help the council spend the millions of pounds it uses clearing-up after flytippers more productively. See www.environment-agency.gov.uk/publicregister
1 Household waste:'dustbin' waste collected by the District and Borough Councils, litter, street sweepings, waste received at HWRCs plus waste recycled from the domestic waste stream. Non-household waste comprises; commercial, industrial, and construction and demolition wastes.
2 HWRCs: Household Waste Recycling Centres
3 See website: www.wasteaware.org.uk