Council “on target” to hit lower landfill goal

Rookery South Incinerator
Rookery South Incinerator

Bedford Borough Council has said it is “on target” to hit its landfill target.

As with other local authorities, the borough council is working to send less waste to landfill as part of a transition towards more a “sustainable and environmentally friendly” waste management practice.

Borough waste is sent to landfill, incineration to generate energy, reused, or recycled/composted. The borough council has now set its 2023/24 ‘waste to landfill’ target at 12 per cent.

“We hope to achieve this [12 per cent] as we are currently tracking below this figure,” a council spokesperson said.

The council started a new residual waste treatment contract in November 2020, but this led to more black bag waste being sent to landfill.

“[The] previous arrangement to divert household residual waste, bulky waste and fly tip wastes to the Energy from Waste (EfW) facility ended,” the spokesperson said.

“Those waste streams were landfilled for a period of time before the new contractor brought a facility online locally to enable those elements to be diverted from landfill again.”

The local facility is the Rookery South Energy Recovery Facility, currently operated by Encyclis (it was opened by Covanta).

“Unfortunately, Rookery EfW [sic] plant was then shut throughout August 2022 and during the first 10 days of September 2022.

“This resulted in more waste being sent to landfill in 2022/23 than expected,” they said.

“Waste was [sent] to a variety of other treatment locations due to issues with capacity.

“We now have more Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities online in the UK, so we would not expect this to be an issue in the future,” they said.

The spokesperson added that the waste was redirected at the contractor’s cost.

“Also, in January 2023 a new government requirement to separate Waste Upholstered Domestic Seating (WUDS) came into effect, banning these items from being landfilled,” the spokesperson added.

Research by the Environment Agency in 2020 highlighted the presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in upholstered seating at four times the legal concentration limit.

In 2021, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) reported that POPs are toxic chemical substances that are” slow to degrade, can accumulate in human and animal tissue, and are often discovered long distances from their place of manufacture or use”.

“We will only see the full effect of this ban on the tonnage sent to landfill in the 2023/24 year,” the council spokesperson said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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