Agenda Item No. 8
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 1 December, 2015
Report of the Director of Environment and Housing Services
Waste Management and Cleansing Update Report
Purpose of the Report
- To provide Committee with an update on the progress that the Waste Management & Cleansing Division (WM&C) are making to achieve Welsh Government's (WG) Statutory Recycling Targets (SRTs) and on the possible implications of new waste related legislation and initiatives.
- To seek the views of the Committee on key issues that may impact on service delivery and performance in the future.
- That Committee notes the report.
- That the views of the Committee are forwarded to Cabinet for their consideration.
Reasons for the Recommendations
- To update Committee on waste and recycling issues.
- To allow Cabinet to consider the views of the Committee.
- There have been significant WG legislative development and policy changes within 2015. These include the new Regulation implementing Article 11 of the EU Revised Waste Framework Directive (January 2015), revised WG waste grant allocation and proposed Welsh legislation as well as two significant waste management reviews undertaken by WG that will impact on the Council's waste management services. The first review relates to the Sustainable Waste Management Grant (SWMG) to assess the impact of the grant since its introduction in 2001/02 and whether it is considered value for money. The second relates to the Collections Blueprint that was introduced alongside the Municipal Sector Waste Plan, setting out what Welsh Government believes to be the best set of waste and recycling collection arrangements to meet and exceed the SRTs with the best environmental outcomes.
Relevant Issues and Options
- The latest developments that may impact on service delivery are as follows:
(i) The new Single Environment Grant (SEG) WG introduced this year.
- WG wrote to all local authorities explaining that a Single Grant was being introduced with applications to be submitted to them by 30th June 2015, to demonstrate how work being proposed in the submission contributes to priorities identified by the Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Carl Sargent and the goals included in the Well-Being of Future Generations Act (WBFGA) which comes into force for local authorities in April 2016.
- At recent meetings between local authorities and WG officials, officers were advised that future WG grant payments could be subject to cuts of up 25 to 50%. This caused great alarm given that the grant supports functions that are vital to authorities' efforts to meet their SRTs. Subsequent discussions between the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and WG officials identified that the suggestion of these cuts was based on the call by George Osborne for UK Government departments to consider the impact of cuts of this magnitude. Nothing will be known with certainty, however, until after the UK Government's Spending Review announcement on 25th November 2015.
- The Minister has now stated that he is not prepared to change the SRTs set to rise to 70% by 2024/25. He does acknowledge the scale of the challenge local authorities will face should such cuts as detailed above materialise. He therefore made an offer to local government to come up with a set of proposals by which the targets can still be achieved if the grant is cut. He stressed that he is prepared to listen to any suggestions that will achieve this, including the possibility of reallocating the grant to Revenue Support Grant (RSG). In addition, it is a possibility that there will be an ongoing acceptance of those collections systems (such as co-mingling) that do not comply with the Welsh Government's 'blueprint'.
(iii) Guidance on Well-Being of Future Generations Act (WBFGA):
- On 7th September 2015 WG issued a consultation document on its proposed statutory guidance for fulfilling duties under the WBFGA. Responses are due by 16th November 2015. WG held a number of consultation events during late October and early November 2015. The Act sets out a legally binding common purpose in the form of seven well-being goals for local government and other specified public bodies. All these bodies will need to be able to demonstrate how they are working towards these goals in their waste management capacity to improve the long term well- being of Wales. The essential principle of the Act is that "the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
(iv) The Environment Bill
- The Environment Bill is still working its way through the legislative process in the Assembly. The target is to achieve Royal Assent by Spring 2016. Its stated purpose is to enable the planning and management of Wales' natural resources to be undertaken in a more coherent way. The Bill includes three key features designed to make the sustainable management of natural resources a core consideration in decision-making. Part 4 of the Bill deals with the "Collection and disposal of Waste". In particular this element of the Bill deals with waste management processes which WG feel will achieve higher levels of business waste recycling, better food waste treatment and increased energy recovery. The Bill includes the following:
- The requirement for full separate collection service for segregated recyclable materials is available to all those that produce waste;
- Businesses and the Public Sector and all other waste producers, but not the householder, will need to ensure that clean, uncontaminated recyclable material are separated before it moves onto the next stage of reprocessing;
- Recyclable waste and organic material, including food waste, will be banned from being sent to landfill or Energy from Waste facilities;
- Non domestic food waste will be banned from being disposed of to the sewage system.
(v) Compliance with WG recycling collections policies:
- Due to insufficient internal resources WG and the Waste Resource and Action Programme (WRAP) are currently assessing how the Council undertakes its Waste Collection Services. WM&C are therefore currently working with WG within their Collective Collaboration Programme (CCP) and their consultants WRAP to carry out the necessary service modelling and future collection methodology. The outcomes from this study will be reported to Members for their consideration early in 2016 following completion of WRAP's work.
(vi) Residual Waste Treatment:
- The early construction of the Prosiect Gwyrdd Trident Park energy from waste plant allowed the Council to terminate the landfill contract with Biffa earlier than anticipated (March 31st 2016) by entering into an interim contract with Viridor and this element of the Council's waste has now been diverted to the Plant. However there may still on occasions (such as when the Plant is not working) be a need to send waste to the City and County of Cardiff's Lamby Way Landfill site.
(vii) Organic Waste Treatment (Kitchen food and Green Garden waste)
- Cabinet were previously advised (Min C2537 refers) of the current position on the joint procurement project with Cardiff Council for the treatment of organic waste and approval was sought to agree a preferred contract bidder. Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils have subsequently, in March 2015, entered into a contract with Kelda Ltd for the construction and operation of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and Open Windrow Composting (OWC) facilities to treat their food and green garden wastes respectively, over a 15 year period commencing on the 1st April 2017.
- The Contract comprises a purpose built AD treatment plant for the treatment of food waste at Tide Field Road, Tremorfa, Cardiff which is now under construction and an OWC for the composting of garden waste at a windrow facility at Cardiff City Council's Lamby Way sited on a former OWC site but requiring extending and additional construction works. Work on the AD plant is well underway with piling and other ground works completed, and both the AD and OWC are on programme for commission in the autumn of 2016.
- Presently officers are having monthly progress meetings with Kelda to ensure that the pre-contract construction works are being undertaken and delivered to programme, UK Government 'feed in' traffics are maximised and that both Councils obtain the best value further treatment of its organic waste between 2017 and 2032.
(viii) Recycling Performance
- Committee will be aware that WM&C are working hard to achieve the 2015/16 SRT of 58%. To do this new initiatives have been introduced including the recycling of residual waste deposited at the Council's Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and the procurement of future Anaerobic Digestion (AD) infrastructure for treating food and garden waste. WM&C are also currently re-procuring the management of the Council HWRCs with an aim of delivering higher contractual recycling targets. These initiatives aim to deliver the diversion of waste from landfill and waste recovery through recycling and composting. However, despite the introduction of these initiatives current performance indicators would suggest that we will still only achieve the 58% SRT this year.
- As a countermeasure to reduce the risk of the Council possibly failing to achieve the 58% target and of WG impose fines, WM&C have entered into an agreement with Viridor for the recycling of its proportion of the PG Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) generated during the interim contact.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- Within existing budgets there is a limit as to how much any authority can spend on collecting waste and recycling. Currently the Council is one of the lowest spending in Wales with a 2012/13 expenditure of £147 per household against the Welsh average of £181 per household.
- At a meeting arranged between the WG and local authorities on 1st October 2015 the Minister stated that the single waste grant may be cut by up to 50% in future years. He explained that it is possible that his department could be hit disproportionately as Welsh Government seeks to manage cuts from the UK Government. It is likely that the up to 50% cuts would be over three years and would not all happen in one financial year.
- Based on 2014/15 figures a 1% shortfall in reaching 58% SRT would equate to appropriately 750 tonnes of waste still needing recycling and a potential fine of 750 x £200 = £150,000. The countermeasure to ensure that the Council does not fail its SRT by 1% is to recycle bottom ash from Viridor. This costs £32,205 significantly below that of the possible fines shown above.
- The costs or savings associated with the WRAP report regarding the Council's future waste collection methods will only be known following completion of the study which is anticipated in early 2016.
- The costs associated with the WBFGA and the Environment Bill are as yet undeterminable but are likely to increase the service costs over and above the present values.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- An integrated waste strategy prioritising minimisation, reuse and recycling as well as generating energy from waste will contribute to the principles of sustainable development. By using resources more efficiently through waste prevention and high reuse and recycling rates, material resource is improved and dependence on primary resources from outside the UK is reduced.
- WG Sustainability Policy seeks to develop sustainability by enhancing the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of people and communities using ecological foot-printing measures to reduce environmental impact. The management of waste is responsible for around 15% of Wales' ecological footprint.
- Climate Change needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Direct emissions are produced by the decomposition of biodegradable waste in landfill sites and landfilling.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- The 2008 Waste Framework Directive (the Directive) obliges (Article 11(1)) member states to "take measures to promote high quality recycling and, to this end shall set up separate collections of waste where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors".
- Subject to Article 10(2) of the Directive, by 1st January 2015 separate waste collections shall be set up for at least, paper, metal, plastic and glass which was transposed into UK legislation by The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 (the 2011 Regulations), but included wording to say that for the avoidance of doubt, co-mingled collections with a view to subsequent separation meets the requirements of the Directive for 'separate collection'.
- Failure to meet SRTs or comply with the requirements of legislation could result in the Council being fined by WG or possibly subject to legal challenge.
Crime and Disorder Implications
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
- There are no equal opportunity implications as a result of this report as collection is offered equally at the kerbside to all householders. An Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) will be required should there be a significant future service change.
- The Corporate Priority is "To achieve a quality of the environment through the promotion and use of sustainable practices and by making the best use of current and future resources"
Outcome 1: Our customers have access to sustainable waste and recycling services.
Policy Framework and Budget
- This report is consistent with the policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- As this matter relates to the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan no individual Member consultation was undertaken.
Clifford Parish - Operational Manager, Waste Management & Cleansing
Tel: No: 02920 673220
Head of Visible Services and Transport
Operational Manager, Legal Services
Accountant, Visible and Building Services
Operational Manager - Committee Reports
Head of Performance and Development
Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services