People in Wiltshire can remain confident that their carefully sorted rubbish is being recycled as usual and none of it is ending up in landfill.
Their efforts are helping the environment by saving energy, reducing the extraction of raw materials and slowing climate change, according to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
Recent reports in the national media about recyclable materials being stockpiled, or worse, dumped in landfill as the global market for them withers away, are simply not the case in this county, says John Sutton, the Trust’s Senior Waste Minimisation Officer.
“If you have doubts about what is happening to our recyclable materials in the current downturn, then fear not. In Wiltshire it is business as usual,” he says.
The Trust, which is a partner with Hills in the Wiltshire Waste Partnership, is setting up small public visits to the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at Lower Compton where people will be able to see exactly what is happening to their rubbish.
“The public, who are generally supportive of the principle of recycling, have every right in the face of these reports to wonder whether their efforts to sort their rubbish are doing any good,” says John.
“However, the Hill’s Group (Wiltshire County Council’s waste disposal contractor) has given assurances that no materials are being stockpiled so we can be reassured that recycling is still the way to go.”
According to the Government recycling agency WRAP, the market for recycled materials is currently going through a difficult period as a direct result of the global economic downturn being felt across a wide range of industries.
This has meant that demand and therefore prices for some materials has dropped. For example, a lot of recycled paper is made into the cardboard used to package new products. As sales have fallen, so has the demand for packaging
“Rubbish has become a resource and like any commodity it suffers volatility in its price,” says Steve Burns, Waste Operations Manager at Hills Waste Solutions.
“The MRF has planning permission to store substantial quantities of recycled products. This is standard practice and ensures that recyclates can be transported to reprocessors, or collected by them, in bulk, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the road,” he says.
Research by the Government recycling agency WRAP shows that:
• The 8.6 million tonnes of paper the UK recycled here and abroad last year has saved the equivalent of 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to taking 3.6 million cars off the road.
• Selling the UK’s used plastic bottles and paper for recycling in China actually saves carbon emissions. Shipping these materials more than 10,000 miles produces less CO2 than sending them to landfill at home and using brand new materials. (2008 CO2 Impact of Export Report).
• More energy is saved by recycling plastics than is gained by burning them. Recycling saves two tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per tonne of plastic in comparison to incineration. (2008 Life Cycle Analysis of Management Options for Mixed Waste Plastics).
• In 83% of circumstances, recycling paper, card, glass, plastics and metals was preferable to any other waste management option. Recycling these items is currently estimated to save over 18 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent green house gas emissions. (2006 Environmental Benefits of Recycling, and Waste for England 2007).
So the message is clear: continue to recycle wherever possible as it’s better than sending rubbish to landfill.