Cheshire currently produces around 434,000 tonnes of domestic waste each year. Almost a third is now recycled or processed for compost, with a target of 54% by 2020.
Historically, ‘residual’ or unrecycled waste has been buried in landfill. However, European laws are forcing the government to send less waste to landfill and landfill tax is rising to deter businesses and local authorities from landfilling waste which could be recycled. This is why the government is on a drive to build more incinerators.
Vale Royal Borough Council introduced a new kerbside collection scheme in 2004. In week one, the council collects glass, paper, plastic, cans and green garden waste. In week two it collects residual waste. It has seen recycling rates for the borough leap from 15% to over 40%.
If every authority in Cheshire were to adopt this same scheme, Cheshire would have already met its recycling targets for 2010. As it is, many authorities are still recycling less than 20% of their total waste, which is creating a need for increased residual waste treatment capacity.
If we continue what we have started, Cheshire’s need for landfill is going to go down, not up, in the coming years, so we won’t have a waste problem. We certainly won’t have enough waste to feed one incinerator, let alone four.