WRAP targets key sectors to boost recycling

WRAP - the Waste Resources Action Programme - set up by the Government to transform the nation’s poor performance in recycling, has got off to a flying start with momentum building in recent months to stimulate activity over key sectors in recycling materials. LAWE reports on the stream of initiatives which have been a set in motion to shake up local authorities and the private sector

Critical to improving the UK’s recycling performance is the expertise of managers responsible for implementing recycling and waste minimisation policies. In one of its most recent initiatives, WRAP has launched a pilot training and development programme for recycling managers.

This major training initiative will support development of best practice in municipal waste recycling by giving recycling managers the tools to identify performance improvements and develop new initiatives. It is a key element in WRAP’s Quality Sourcing activities to help local authorities in their efforts to achieve Government recycling targets.

Applications are sought for places on pilot courses across the UK. The free of charge, residential courses, which begin in mid-September, will be aimed at people from local authorities, the community and private sectors who manage or develop and promote collections of recyclable or compostable materials.

The content will focus on equipping delegates with the knowledge, skills and tools to develop cost-effective systems with high participation and recovery rates for the collection and sorting of materials for recycling and composting that meet end market requirements.

The courses will be split into two skill levels. The standard courses will cover the legislation and policy affecting collection of recyclables, meeting market specifications, planning and development of systems and successfully negotiating effective contracts.

The advanced courses will look further at the implications of end-market demands for materials on collection systems and sorting requirements. It will also enable delegates to assess the potential for waste minimisation strategies, assess the options for the treatment of source segregated organic waste and design, implement and evaluate communication and education schemes.

Enhancing skills

Chris Davey, WRAP’s Quality Sourcing Manager, said, “Adequate training for managers of collection and sorting programmes is a crucial part of supplying the markets with the right quantities and quality of recycled materials. The programme aims to enhance the skills base of recycling managers in the UK and, alongside increased funding by government, will give local authorities the help they need to reach the statutory recycling targets set by government”.

Supporting the programme, Chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), Janet Westmoreland, said: “LARAC has long identified improved training for recycling managers as crucial to the growth of recycling. This was spelled out clearly to us in our last survey of LARAC members, and we are delighted to support WRAP in piloting this programme. Demand for places will be high, so I encourage recycling officers to apply early.”

The pilot courses, which will be held this Autumn, will lead to a full programme roll-out in 2003. For more information on course content contact [email protected] or phone Kelly Smythe on 01295 819932. Details of how to apply are available from Sarah Jones at the CIWM [email protected] or 01604 620426, or on the WRAP (www.wrap.org.uk) and CIWM (www.ciwm.co.uk) websites.

Overall strategy

WRAP, which is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, supported by contributions totalling £55 million over three years from DEFRA, DTI, the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales, was established to promote sustainable waste management and to create stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products.

Targets have been set by WRAP across eight programmes – five material streams (paper, plastics, glass, aggregates and wood) and three generic areas (Procurement, Financial Mechanisms and Standards and Specifications).

On the glass front, plagued by the green glass glut, comprehensive information on the current and potential recycling opportunities for recovered glass is now available in a major report commissioned and published by WRAP.

The report, Recycled Glass Study and Standards Review, produced by Enviros, which will be used to inform WRAP’s future work to create stable and efficient markets for recycled glass, analyses the current market situation and recycling infrastructure and assesses the potential opportunities for increasing the amount of recycled material used in the future.

WRAP commissioned the report in recognition of the fact that alternative markets and uses will have to be found for recovered glass if recycling levels are to increase significantly in the future. Currently, around 23% of the UK’s total glass arisings are recycled, amounting to around

915,000 tonnes a year. This places the UK well behind other European countries, such as Holland and Germany, where recycling rates are estimated to exceed 70%.

With the current review of the EU Packaging Waste Directive proposing a material specific recycling target of 60% for glass by 2006, the UK will need to improve its performance, but the report identifies substantial barriers to increasing recycling levels for the two types of glass which dominate recycling in the UK: container glass and flat glass.

The container glass industry is the principal market for recovered glass, consuming 571,000 tonnes in 2000. While the report estimates that the industry could use an additional 920,000 tonnes of recovered glass a year, colour is critical.

“If the UK were to meet a 60% target in 2006, under current market conditions, all the clear glass recovered could be recycled, but there would potentially be a surplus of over 500,000 tonnes of green and amber glass,” explains Andy Dawe, WRAP’s Material Sector Manager for Glass, “and developing alternative uses for this material is one of WRAP’s priorities.”

The report identifies and analyses the most promising new markets for mixed recycled glass, including its use as a secondary aggregate in general fill, road construction and concrete production applications, for water filtration and in glass fibre insulation manufacture. To underpin these alternative markets, the report recommends that WRAP supports the development of standards for the use of glass in these applications, and encourage efforts to gain regulatory approval for the use of recovered glass in high value, high performance applications such as drinking water filtration.

As part of a major R&D funding programme, WRAP has already approved over £230,000 towards a research proposal from Dryden Aqua in Scotland to set up a 20,000 tonne facility to recycle glass into high quality cullet suitable for drinking water filtration, and to gain approval and market acceptance for its use.

For flat glass, the picture is more challenging, as the largest arisings are in the construction and demolition sector where the levels of contamination currently preclude its use in primary markets which require high quality cullet. In addition, the economics of flat glass recovery and recycling are not underpinned by PRN revenue. The report emphasises the need for more accurate data on waste flat glass and WRAP has already taken action on this front by approving over £370,000 of funding for two R&D projects by the Building Research Establishment and the Steel Construction Institute. The research projects will provide data on the tonnages and types of flat glass used in the UK construction industry, as well as framing materials, and will assess the collection and recycling opportunities.

Further work to develop stronger links with the main players in flat glass recycling is recommended, as well as encouraging Best Practice in the downstream glass processing industry to increase the levels of uncontaminated waste glass which could be recovered.

WRAP has also announced a capital grant competition, which is aimed at boosting glass reprocessing capacity in the UK and could lead to a potential increase of between 80,000 and 160,000 tonnes of post-consumer glass used in high value applications. The competition is targeted specifically at infrastructure in the UK to increase capacity for producing fine glass powder with a particle size of below 90 microns.

Several projects under way in WRAP’s R&D funding programme are investigating the use of the glass powder material in different industrial applications, including use as a fluxing agent in clay brick manufacture and sanitaryware production and as an additive to cement.

If successful, the high value markets for the material could prove to be substantial: for example, total UK annual clay consumption in brick production is 7 million tonnes and 10-15% of clay could be replaced by glass powder flux. Similarly, 12.6 million tonnes of cement were produced in the UK in 2000 and even at a 1% incorporation level, a glass powder demand of 126,000 tonnes would be generated.

The research projects are all showing positive results but will require a stable supply of material in order to convince industry to change their production processes. The competition is intended to support infrastructure to produce up to 160,000 tonnes of fine glass powder from at least two facilities. The new facilities will become operational by March 2004.

Jennie Price, WRAP’s Chief Executive, said : “Working on both the supply and demand side of this application will enable WRAP to be the catalyst needed to create a stable market for this recycled material.” Andy Dawe, Material Sector Manager for Glass, added: “‘High value applications for recycled materials are absolutely fundamental to making recycling economically sustainable in the UK.”

Another study produced for WRAP by Glass Technology Services and drawing on British Glass data collected from quarterly returns made by all Municipal Collection Authorities (MCAs) demonstrates the effectiveness of kerbside collection of glass. Whilst this method has the potential to increase significantly the UK glass recycling rate, the report shows that only 10% of households have access to kerbside glass collection schemes.

In the plastics sector, early in the year WRAP launched a major grant competition to create automated sorting capacity with the aim of installing additional reprocessing capacity for 20,000 tonnes of plastic bottles per annum. It is intended that the new processing facility or facilities will come on stream in 2003, with specified intermediate tonnages until full capacity is reached by 2005.

Newsprint recycling

On the paper recycling front WRAP has appointed Stefan Kay as Project Monitor for its project to deliver capital support for the newsprint industry, designed to significantly increase newspaper and magazine recycling in the United Kingdom. In this role he will play a key role in independently monitoring and verifying progress made against the contractual milestones set out by WRAP in its agreement with the winning contractor, UPM-Kymmene (UK) Ltd, in the development of the facility at Shotton, North Wales.

The targets set under WRAP’s Paper Programme for 2003/2004 are:

  • to support investment that will create new manufacturing capacity to deliver a 500,000 tonnes/year increase in newspaper recycling

  • to increase the use of recovered paper in the graphics, printing and writing sector by 180,000 tonnes/year

  • to benchmark the use of recycled paper in this sector and achieve 100% increase in market share.

Following an Open Competition for grant funding, WRAP signed a contract with UPM-Kymmene on 6 March 2002 to part-fund a project which will deliver 321,000 tonnes per annum of additional newsprint reprocessing capacity in the UK by 2004. The project, which is still subject to State Aids clearance, will be funded primarily under the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme (LTCS), through WRAP’s environmental body WREB.

A recently published, industry-wide study of recycled fibre usage, entitled UK Paper Mills: Review of Current Recycled Paper Usage (Secondary Fibre Study) is available in PDF format on the new WRAP website (www.wrap.org.uk).

Mark Macaulay has also taken up the post as Materials Sector Manager for Paper. Working for Aylesford Newsprint Ltd for the last eight years, his most recent role was the project management of the UK paper industry’s first Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) application.

Aggregates & composting

Also on the WRAP agenda are aggregates and composting. In April 2002, a new Aggregates Programme was announced to be managed in England by WRAP and funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, which was set up by the Government to reduce damage to the environment from extracting aggregates such as sand, stone and gravel used in construction.

The fund channels revenues from the Aggregates Levy back to communities affected by aggregates extraction. The aim is to reduce demand for primary materials by encouraging recycling and re-use of aggregates, with a target to increase output of recycled and secondary aggregates by 2 million tonnes by 2004.

In July WRAP announced two Capital Grant Competitions to improve England’s infrastructure for reprocessing construction and demolition waste and other materials to produce recycled and secondary aggregates.

The level of support will be a proportion of the total project value, not exceeding 30% of the eligible costs. The proposed capital grant assistance will cover two areas, the first of which is construction and demolition (C&D) waste recovered from the waste stream.

Over 20 million tonnes a year of recycled aggregates are already resourced from the 70 million tonnes of C&D waste generated annually in England, however this waste stream remains the largest potential source of recycled aggregates. With high contamination levels and low landfill costs being the main barriers, the competition will focus on projects which can deliver effective segregation systems and consistent supply of quality recycled aggregate to meet end market requirements.

The second area will focus on the creation of infrastructure for reprocessing secondary materials such as china clay waste, used foundry sand, or slag, and encourage innovation on other alternative materials.

It will also include recycling processes for concrete, brick and asphalt which facilitate their use in higher value applications.

Dealing with another sector which has the potential to make significant inroads into the amount of waste currently going to landfill, WRAP has produced a study comparing international composting standards around the world. This emphasises the need for both statutory and voluntary standards if the UK is to catch up with many of its European standards.

WRAP aims to work with The Composting Association to develop and promote industry standards for composted products, which meet the needs of end users, create confidence in their use, improve production methods and increase opportunities to market the end product.

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