Guernsey Press

Recycling rates up with Europe’s best

THE island’s recycling rate could reach 65% this year and is on course to reach the 70% target for household waste by 2030.

Cubes of waste ready for export. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 24330655)

Guernsey Waste says its forecast would give the island one of the highest household recycling rates in Europe.

The rise has been attributed largely to new weekly food collections and the switch to fortnightly general waste collections.

The waste estimate comes after the first full quarter since exports of separate food waste and processed general waste began. The new system started in late-2018.

The forecast of up to 65% is based on tonnages recorded over 12 months to the end of March 2018, and adjusted to account for the new collection and processing arrangements.

Based on provisional data for the first quarter of 2019, it is estimated that the new system has resulted in 50 tonnes per week of food waste being processed, five to 10 tonnes per week of kerbside dry recycling being collected and an additional reduction in residual waste of 10%.

This compares to a provisional rate of 50% for the 12 months to the end of March 2018.

States’ Trading Assets deputy managing director Richard Evans said the average cost per household will be less than £6 per week.

‘So it includes everything from regular collection of waste and recycling from the kerbside to the processing, export and treatment of all those materials, plus all the other amenities such as composting of green waste and the new household waste and recycling centre at Longue Hougue.’.

The biggest factor in Guernsey’s increase has been the new food waste collections for every household.

Since December, separately-collected food waste has been pre-processed at the new transfer station at Longue Hougue, before being loaded into tankers and sent to a plant in Wiltshire, where it is used to generate electricity and create compost.

The shift to fortnight pick-ups for general rubbish has also resulted in an increase in kerbside recycling.

A survey in November last year, involving more than 1,800 homes in St Peter Port and Castel, found that more than 85% were now regular users of the service and nearly 90% were using the weekly food waste collections.

Tonnages for the blue and clear recycling bags in the first two months of January and February were up by more than 30% compared to 2018.

These increases have been framed against an overall 10% reduction in residual waste.

Items taken to the Longue Hougue recycling facility or for green waste processing have also had a significant bearing on recycling rates.

Mr Evans said that the reduction in black bag collections was an important part of the strategy.

‘Experience from elsewhere has shown that switching to fortnightly collection of general waste encourages recycling and helps to reduce waste overall,’ he said.

‘As a result of those changes [to collection arrangements], coupled with the introduction of the new pay-as-you-throw charges, islanders are clearly now thinking more about their waste, and thinking more about how they can minimise it.’

Mr Evans wished to dispel any concerns over waste quantities and whether quotas needed to be met.

‘All of our export contracts are on a per tonne basis, and we do not have to provide a minimum quantity,’ he said.

This should provide autonomy for Guernsey Waste to control the recycling rate to suit the demands of the island.

If met, the forecasted target of 65% will be one of the highest household recycling rates in Europe this year, only Germany has recorded a national rate of more than 60%.

A handful of local authorities in the UK have reported rates of above 60%, the highest being Anglesey at 69.1%.

Overall, in 2017, 45% of household waste in the UK was reused, recycled or composted, putting Guernsey well ahead of its UK counterparts.