RWM 2016: Fire Prevention Plan Clarification & Drive For Recycling Consistency

linda-crichtonDay one (13 September) of this year’s RWM in partnership with CIWM (RWM) has kicked off, with WRAP unveiling its report into recycling collections consistency and with the Environment Agency (EA) clarifying points in its recently revised Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) guidance.

Speaking in the Local Authority Theatre, WRAP’s Linda Crichton unveiled the “Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling for England”.

The report brings together extensive research, alongside advisory group engagement, to confirm three “consistent” collection systems for councils.

These are:

  • multi-stream with food
  • two-stream with food separate
  • commingled mixed recyclables with food separate.

The materials for collection in the models are similar to the Wales recycling blueprint and the Scottish code of practice for recycling, WRAP says and will contribute to UK-wide recycling consistency.

Importantly, food waste has been included in each model, which, along with plastics, Linda says has the greatest opportunity to do more to increase recycling.

Linda Crichton presenting the three systems
Linda Crichton presenting the three systems

By considering a more consistent approach in England it’s hoped the public will have a clearer idea about what can and can’t be recycled, as well as improve the quality of the recyclate collected.

“It was clear we weren’t doing consistency for consistency’s sake,” Linda said. “We had to deliver benefits. It was about more recycling, better quality of materials and increasing the engagement of householders.”

The project comes in response to stagnating recycling figures in England, which is currently recycling 44% of household waste.

“It was clear we weren’t doing consistency for consistency’s sake,” Linda said. “We had to deliver benefits. It was about more recycling, better quality of materials and increasing the engagement of householders.”

Recycling consistency guidance for local authorities (LA) was set to be published in July, but with the replacement of Rory Stewart at Defra – who has been keen to drive the consistency issue – with Therese Coffey, WRAP delayed this.

WRAP confirmed that the drive for greater consistency in local recycling collections would be voluntary. Linda also confirmed that while Defra would not be stumping up more cash for the scheme, WRAP had allocated part of its budget next year to provide support to councils who are looking at a local business case for implementing one of the three models.

WRAP predicts the benefits of these models being implemented could see over 11m tonnes of additional material collected for recycling and according to WRAP modeling, the “multi-stream” system comes out as being the most effective solution to deliver the greatest financial benefits for most councils.

Fire Prevention Plan Guidance

eaThe Environment Agency’s James Finch and John McCarthy clarified points surrounding its recently revised FPP guidance, also in the Local Authority Theatre.

The updated regulatory guidance aims to help reduce the risk and impact of fires at regulated waste sites.

The changes promote a risk-based approach to preventing fires and minimising the impact where they do occur, especially when a local community or critical infrastructure would be affected, the EA says.

The Wood Recyclers Association questioned the maximum four hour burn time in the original guidance and called for the EA to reconsider this in its revision, fearing too much emphasis is being placed on a burn time limit. However, the four hour burn time has remained.

“It’s nothing to fear. It’s more of an aim than an objective. It’s important to know that all the measures in the guidance are interrelated, and if they’re all implemented then they will in most cases achieve the [guidance] objectives.”

“We understand the four hour aim is a bit of a concern,” Finch said during the RWM session. “It’s nothing to fear. It’s more of an aim than an objective. It’s important to know that all the measures in the guidance are interrelated, and if they’re all implemented then they will in most cases achieve the [guidance] objectives.”

The guidance is designed to help achieve those objectives, the EA says.

“[The four hour burn time] is not an absolute deadline that you will be held to account over,” McCarthy added.

They also said that the four hour burn time, along with the other objectives in the guidance, are not concrete and may not even be necessary when taking individual site environments into account.

For example, the four hour burn time is partly aimed at reducing smoke and therefore potential harm to residents. If the site is not located in a high residential area, then this time may not be necessary condition.

The EA senior advisors stressed that plans would be treated on a case by case basis.

“It’s about protecting the public and reducing the number of serious incidents,” McCarthy said.

Finch also clarified a term in the guidance regarding “active firefighting”, stressing that this does not mean the operators should actively try to extinguish the fire, but “actively” make it as easy as possible for firefighters to do so, should one ignite, by providing such things as sufficient access and resources, for example.


 

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