Waste & Recycling – Review of the Year 2007

The WEEE Directive and the Waste Strategy Review for England took centre stage in the world of waste this year, with the latter sparking debate over the best ways to tackle the country's rubbish.

The Local Government Association complained that the UK was the dustbin of Europe.

Local authorities were granted powers allowing them to team up on waste management to create efficient ‘super-sites’ to treat and dispose of municipal rubbish.

Defra mandarins told the waste industry that winning the hearts and minds of the public would be vital if Britain is to build the facilities it needs to meet targets.

After many months of gearing up for WEEE Day, the directive came into force in the UK, with producers forced to take responsibility for their e-waste.

The Environmental Services Association made a plea for a zero tolerance stance on waste crime to provide a level playing field for the vast majority of those working in the industry who play by the rules.

The pros and cons of alternate weekly collection was one of the year’s hot debates, with Defra publishing research allegedly dismissing the primary objection – that leaving rubbish lying about for two weeks is a health risk.

Public opinion hit back when Dartford Borough Council decided to give residents a vote on the issue – an overwhelming 95% voted against AWC.

Proposals to make Site Waste Management Plans for large construction projects compulsory were announced while battery recycling trials showed the UK could meet its targets in that area with a bit of encouragement.

The Devonshire market town of Modbury became the first in the UK to ban plastic bags while painting recycling bins to look like Friesian cows saw recycling rates rocket in London’s New Cross.

The public complained that over-complicated instructions for sorting household waste were sapping their will to recycle while a Chinese town tried to boost public health by offering a bounty on the head of each fly – of about 3p.

In Westminster the council went to war with publishers of the free newspapers which often litter the streets, calling for a contribution to help with the recycling or face a distribution ban.

Peace talks finally led to the involved parties agreeing on a deal which allowed distributors to keep handing out the papers but to fund a share of the waste management.

The smoking ban also raised concerns in council chambers across the land, as while the benefits to indoor air quality were welcomed, there were fears of additional waste from cigarette butts as smokers congregated outside pubs, stations, offices and other public places.

Sam Bond

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