Dealing with Gloucestershire's waste
The best way of managing our waste is not to produce it in the first place. After that, we should Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover value from our waste wherever possible. This approach is known as the 4Rs.
What is the waste hierarchy?
The waste hierarchy specifies the best waste disposal options and ranks them in order of the best environmental impact. The options towards the top of the hierarchy are more desirable than those towards the bottom.
The waste hierarchy has become part of UK law through the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011. The county council has developed the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy in partnership with the six district councils in line with this.
How well is Gloucestershire performing?
Currently at 48% for 2011/2012, Gloucestershire is performing consistently ahead of the UK average of 40%, but we can do more. The county council has high ambitions.
We want to:
- Step 1 - maximise recycling with a target of 60% recycling by 2020 and the county council also has an aspiration to reach a 70% recycling and composting rate by 2030.
- Step 2 - avoid landfill and generate useful energy and materials from what is left over.
Our ultimate aim is zero waste to landfill. If the county council achieves its ambition of 70%, it will make our county one of the highest performing recyclers in Europe.
How will we do it?
We've come a long way in 10 years, but over the next 25 years we will focus on:
- raising awareness across the county to encourage residents to reduce, reuse and recycle more;
- working closely with schools to help children understand how they can make a difference;
- targeting the one in five households that research tells us don't currently recycle;
- supporting food recycling across the county, with four of the six district councils currently offering food recycling;
- exploring co-mingled collection of recyclables, so we do the sorting on plastics, paper and other items for you;
- considering providing a materials recovery facility (MRF) to enable the sorting of recyclable materials from co-mingled collections;
- investigating anaerobic digestion (AD) for food and garden waste, that can produce biogas - an alternative to natural gas.
What about the remaining residual waste?
Reducing, reusing, recycling and composting will always take priority, but they don't solve the entire waste problem. Some of the things we throw away, like toothpaste tubes or pet litter, are not suitable for reusing or recycling.
The future for the remaining 30/40% of our waste will be an Energy From Waste (EFW) facility that will help us to generate energy (heart and power) and materials.