How Much Rubbish does Herefordshire Council send to Landfill

 A few weeks ago, I posted about a pet hate of mine often found across all media forms (social, mainstream, TV, radio, internet blogs, etc); i.e. data presented without context. As a result of that article, I sent in two Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to Herefordshire Council. I received answers to both requests fairly quickly.

The first FoI request asked for more up-to-date information on the rates of recycling. Not only did I get a reply to my question but my FoI request also triggered an update of the Council's website so everyone benefited.

The second FoI request concerned a statement that 3000 tonnes of stuff rejected in the recycling process, operated by Envirosort, was sent to landfill. I have visited this facility and it is an impressive, if somewhat smelly, operation that still requires significant human interaction in the sorting process.

I asked Herefordshire Council why the rejected recyclables were sent to landfill rather than the Energy from Waste (EfW) Incinerator built by Herefordshire and Worcestershire and in operation since 2017. I'm not a fan of incinerators but they are probably better than landfill for materials that cannot be reused or recycled. It would be better if the energy generated was used in a carbon capture process to reduce the environmental impact of the incinerator but that might destroy the economic feasibility of the incinerator.

The Council's response stated that in 2020-2021, 17.05% of the total waste went to landfill, 43.76% went to the incinerator and the remaining 39.19% was recycled. From April 2022, it is planned to send no more than 1% to landfill - this will be achieved by (i) re-routing the rejected recyclables away from landfill and towards the EfW facility, (ii) improving recycling rates, and (ii) sending more general waste to the incinerator.

For Herefordshire residents, just over 8% of council tax (ca £10 million) is spent on waste management. We can help reduce these costs by ensuring we recycle more and create less waste. I'll have more to say on this in another post.


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