Joint work between Surrey County Council, a team of advisers and waste contractor SITA has resulted in a move away from mass burn incineration for the County. Their Research found that although there was “no typical profile of a world class waste authority” there is a set of common characteristics and activities that define world class, which include the need to focus attention on preventing waste from being created.

From a local authority perspective, waste prevention means reducing the amount of waste that needs to be collected and treated by Surrey’s authorities. This includes:
• Waste materials not being produced at all
• Materials being dealt with by residents themselves
• Materials formally disposed of being reused

Five priority projects for residents have been identified targeting potential tonnage reduction and ability to influence behaviours:
1. Food waste reduction, Love Food Hate Waste campaign
2. Green waste reduction via home composting
3. Reuse of bulky items such as furniture and white goods
4. Reusable nappies
5. Junk mail reduction

AD for Food waste
According to the report (available from the Surrey County Council website), there are over 100,000 tonnes of food in Surrey’s household waste. “The preferred method of dealing with food waste is to avoid its purchase, or to dispose of at home using devices such as green johannas. However there will be a significant volume of food waste in any event.”

The World Class Waste Solutions (WCWS) report recommends segregated food waste collection followed by treatment using Anaerobic Digestion Technology.

Evidence has shown that segregated food waste collections improve performance in three ways:
• Reduce the volume of waste by exposing the level of food wasted
• Divert food from harmful landfill to recycling solutions
• Increase recycling of other products by reducing contamination and enabling complementary systems to be developed

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is the most appropriate technology for food waste. AD is an organic technology which breaks down food waste in the absence of air to produce two by-products
• A compost material which can be used on agricultural land
• A biogas which can be used to generate electricity or to power vehicles

A 40,000 tonne AD facility is recommended, to be based at an Eco Park. The capital cost and revenue costs of AD have been built into the projected cost of the waste contract. A 40,000 tonne AD facility will save over 17,000 tonnes of carbon each year compared to landfill – this is the equivalent of taking over seven thousand cars off the road.

Minutes of the 2nd February 2010 Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting reflect the move away from mass burn, and towards reducing waste arising and increasing recycling and composting to 70%.

The Cabinet Member for Environment set out the key elements of the Waste Strategy. She said that it was crucial to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill and that the Council was aiming to increase re-cycling rates to 70%. This would be achieved by improving the re-cycling centres and encourage all Districts / Boroughs to provide food waste collections. She announced that the County Council was aiming for zero waste to landfill by 2013 [although this is based on an assumption that ash would be recycled…]

Surrey County Council resolved:
(1) That the World Class Waste Solutions described in Annexes 1 – 3 to the submitted report be adopted as the Waste Disposal Authority Action Plan.
(2) That approval of those amendments to the Waste Disposal Project Agreement within the current contractual context necessary to deliver new services and infrastructure by 2013 be delegated to Strategic
Director for Environment and Infrastructure, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Environment, Head of Legal and Democratic Services and Head of Finance.
(3) That authority to work with the Surrey Waste Partnership to develop a new Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Surrey by 30 June 2010, be delegated to Cabinet Member for Environment

Reasons for decisions:
The recommendations will enable delivery of World Class Waste Solutions for Surrey by 2013 in a manner, which meets legal requirements, represents value for money and is the lowest cost option to the County Council.

Further information released by Surrey County Council (SCC) records how:

In 1999 the Council entered into a long term integrated waste management contract with SITA UK, to manage waste services and deliver residual waste treatment using Energy from Waste technology.

SCC acknowledges that:

A number of setbacks have occurred around the planning process. This culminated in a High Court decision in March 2009 to quash the planning approval for an EFW facility at Capel. There have also been increasingly difficult legal and financial issues relating to the delivery of EFW facilities within the remaining period of the existing Waste Disposal Project Agreement, which expires in 2024.

and that:

There has been a reduction in household waste nationally (5% in last year) but particularly in Surrey (10% in last year). There have been significant increases in recycling rates – up 10% in last year with continuing increases projected. New technologies have emerged which offer the prospect of lower cost
and smaller scale operation.

In June 2009 the Leader of the Council stated:

As a result of the improvements to date, we have an opportunity to remove or reduce our reliance on EFW (energy from waste) Plants in Surrey. I have asked officers to look at our options as a matter of priority as I want Surrey to set the standards of excellence in this area and I feel confident that this is possible. It is an area of our work in which I think we should be aiming to be world class.

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