Grundon lobbies for mixed collections as Slough says it will consider new waste supplier from 2017

Grundon Waste Management has called on the European Commission to support co-mingled waste collections, just weeks after Slough Borough Council said it would review separate waste collections for paper, metal, plastic and glass – and potentially a new supplier for the borough.

Dirty nappies are among items clogging up Grundon's Materials Recovery Facility causing recyclable waste to be incinerated instead.

Dirty nappies are among items clogging up Grundon’s Materials Recovery Facility causing recyclable waste to be incinerated instead.

Neil Grundon, deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management, criticised comments made by Karl Falkenberg, the European Commission’s outgoing director general for environment, over the UK’s continued use of co-mingled waste collections, as reported by the CCA last week.

Grundon says he believes his customers should have one co-mingled dry recyclable collection and for the industry to invest in materials recovery facilities (MRFs), such as the one it operates at Colnbrook Lakeside.  It wants the European Commission to change its policy and focus instead on harmonising taxes.

Our view has always been that it is much simpler for customers to have one commingled dry recyclable collection and for the industry to invest in materials recovery facilities (MRFs), which can separate out the different waste streams quickly and efficiently.

But Slough has recently withdrawn a number of recycling facilities throughout the borough because contaminated collections have forced the waste to go to landfill instead.

Grundon’s comments, coincidentally, come just weeks after Slough Borough Council’s Cabinet gave the go ahead to begin procurement of a new waste treatment contract which will also consider further segregated collections – and potentially a new supplier.

Neil Grundon, chairman of the company behind the Colnbrook super-incinerator.

Neil Grundon, chairman of the company behind the Colnbrook super-incinerator.

The current contract for waste disposal is a ‘back to back’ contract between Slough Accord (now Amey) for waste disposal and Grundons for the treatment of waste.

Although the contract does not expire until 2017 the competitiveness of the market for residual waste treatment and limited capacity means the Council wants to get in early.  It forecasts a ‘capacity gap’ next year of 17.8% between the amount of waste produced regionally and the infrastructure available to dispose of it.

No coincidence, perhaps, that Grundon signed a 25-year lease with partner Viridor last month for 50,000 tonnes at the Ardley incinerator in Oxfordshire which opened last year?

The Council has committed to increase the amount of waste recycled, reduce the amount of waste produced and reduce dependency on landfill for waste disposal. But it makes no bones about the fact that it wants to save money.  It needs to "mitigate" budgets allocated and subsequently spent on each of Waste Disposal, Waste Management and Waste Collection which currently stand at £3,550,000, £1,638,000 & £4,167,000 respectively.

Slough Borough Council says it wants to ensure a “fit for purpose” waste treatment contract in place for when the current contract expires in 2017 and Cabinet authorised negotiations to begin from August.  Residual waste, recyclable materials, clinical and hazardous municipal waste streams are all in scope of the new contract.

In giving the go ahead to initiating procurement in July, Slough’s Cabinet called for provisions to ensure “a robust approach is made to TEEP”, the 2011 obligation that requires separate collections of paper, metal, plastic and glass to be made from 2015 where it is Technically, Environmentally and Economically Practicable to do so.  The council also wants to encourage home composting while continuing to provide a green garden waste collection.

How likely is Slough to ditch Grundon?

But has Slough already nailed its colours to the 75 metre high mast of the Grundon super-incinerator?

While Slough has indicated “reprovisioning” of the Colnbrook incinerator is a condition of its support for a Third Runway, it says it is not ruling out an alternative to Grundon.

Speaking under Rule 30 at the Cabinet meeting in July, Councillor Wayne Strutton asked about the impact Heathrow expansion would have on the Lakeside Energy from Waste facility and the cost of relocation.  Minutes note the response that:

… the future risk had been identified; however the procurement exercise would explore all of the available options and was not tied to any single infrastructure.

“The Leader highlighted that the Council’s support for the third runway at Heathrow had been conditional of reproviding the Energy from Waste plant without compromising the Council’s target to send 0% waste to landfill and with no break in service.”

Quite how Council negotiators will manage to maintain an impartial appraisal of vendors given such a strait jacket is anyone’s guess.  But clearly the cost of the relocation has yet to be determined and Slough has already made it clear that it will not pay.  Nor will it accept any interruption to service – something that could prove difficult given that the planning process for a new incinerator could be at least as complex as for the current one.

There has been no further talk of the suggestion of replacing the incinerator with a greener anaerobic digestion facility floated by Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart to the Airports Commission last December.

 

 

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