Notes from Waste Strategy Briefing – Can Cornwall’s ambitious new waste contract mirror Welsh success?

Notes from briefing to Councillors on Friday from RusselL Owens of the Welsh Government who have succeeded in raising their recycling rates to the standard Cornwall are aiming for from the new Waste contract.

by Elizabeth Hawken

There was a very interesting All Member Meeting Friday afternoon in Konsel Kernow.

There were not very many members attending, but one realises that many Councillors feel that the waste subject is not very important for them. How wrong can a body be.

Russell Owen from the Welsh Government came to speak to the councillors about the best ways to deal with our waste collection problems. He gave them a very similar talk, as he had the committee which he attended, and gave them some very good advice indeed.
The new waste ideas will go before the cabinet on the 7th February.

Pete Marsh started off by giving out the current recycling figures and the wished for future figures. At present we are only recycling 36% of our MSW (Municipal Solid Waste, all our rubbish)). They wish this figure to go up to 50% by 2020 and 60% by 2030. No one could give an answer when they were asked how does this work when there is not enough waste in Kernow to go into the 240,000 ton incinerator now? No answer was the firm reply.


They had monitored 1000 properties and found that in the black bag waste it worked out at; 22% recycling, 35% composting and 43% residual waste. If the black bag waste was fortnightly collected then more recycling would result is the argument.

The important thing that came through from Mr Owen was, for us not to be talked into using co-mingled recycling as this damages the material, and if done correctly, recycling made for a circular economy and there was money to be made from recycling.

Anaerobic digestion is the best for food waste, as it produces the electricity which can be used for other recycling industries on the same site. In Wales they recycle all their old mattresses, as well as nappies, which are collected separately, and anything that they can.
The councillors were shown pictures of the new better recycling lorries, which can be of differing sizes for particular areas of the Duchy. After an initial investment, they very soon pay for themselves.


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There were a lot of questions asked. The second homes non payment of rates, and why was the council paying to have the waste collected, and student accommodation nuisance,? It is being looked into. . [At last!]

Concerns about dog poo. Why were they still using black bags and not clear bags? Incidents of fly tipping were well up, and this is because the HWRC are not open for a better length of time, and the charges are too high? Could this not be changed? And why were there no longer reuse areas in these sites?. Answer was that it was Suez Layonnaise and not the council who decide these things.
Wales keep their recycling sites open for longer and deal with reuse articles, it is better practice.

Mr Owen was asked how they lived with their very high recycling rate, 65% and having incinerators? Answer they only had incineration for a small amount of their waste. Note; Kernow is importing over 60% of its waste to burn, to make Suez Layonnaise money, from an incinerator which is costing us at least one billion pounds.


The council stated that there were not more lorry movements because of this waste coming into Kernow.
They were asked if the council had to accept the lowest tender for the new contract? Remember Carillion. The council were unable to answer this one.

One question that was interesting was; as in Wales we have large areas of houses with no gardens or space of any kind, would it be better for these areas to have communal recycling areas? They would look at it.

Why was ash being seen as recycling? It was being used as building materials, to build property. In Kernow we call this mundic, have we not had to pull down most of these properties, that were built here in the last centuries?

Look out this week for a Cornish Stuff Interview with Cllr Sue James about waste and the holiday let waste issue.

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