Posted: 19 October, 2016. Written by Gaynor Hartnell
Some councils are changing the way they collect householders waste. Many now collect food waste on a weekly basis, but collect residual waste (general waste or “black bag” waste) and recycling every other week (on alternate weeks). This way the residual waste and the recyclable waste is collected once every two weeks.
What about the smell?
When moving to 2 weekly residual waste collections, members of the public may be concerned that there will be a problem with smell if their waste in bags that hang around for two weeks, rather than one week, especially in the summer.
Problems with smell can be avoided, if the right things are put in the right bins.
Why is this happening?
This is being done to help the environment by improving recycling rates and by producing green energy by treating the food waste in biogas plants (also called anaerobic digesters). Biogas projects decompose wet wastes (such as food waste) it in an environment without oxygen, which results in the production of methane. The methane can be used to generate renewable electricity or injected into the gas distribution network in the form of renewable gas.
Evidence shows that householders recycle more glass, paper and plastics in their dry recycling bin under this system. Adapting to this waste collection regime does require some behavioural change from people. We appreciate this may cause inconvenience to some people, and have prepared this note in response to questions from members of the public.
What am I NOT allowed to put in the food waste collection?
An organisation called WRAP recently published its first ever “Recycling Guidelines”, setting out a national agreement from the recycling industry on what can and cannot be collected for recycling from householders. This states any material that is not food waste should not be put in food waste collections.
We have been approached by householders who’d like to support biogas projects, but want to be able to continue disposing of things like cat litter and disposable nappies on a weekly basis, and wondering why this material can’t go into the food waste bin. We thought it might be useful if we set out the reasons why.
These have a plastic covering and contain plastic fillers which do not rot down. They would therefore stop the biogas plant working properly.
If dogs or cats have roundworm parasites, their poo is likely to contain roundworm eggs. Although eggs in this poo can potentially be killed during a biogas facility’s treatment process, it would need to be designed and operated under the expectation of receiving dog or cat poo. It would also have to carry out regular testing for absence of roundworm eggs in the digestate it produces. The biogas facility that treats your food waste is not expecting to receive dog or cat poo so please do NOT put it in your food waste bin.
Another reason why Dog or cat litter tray material can cause problems is that it may consist of gravel or gritty mineral-based material. This would gradually accumulate in the facility’s digestion tank. This reduces its efficiency and substantially increases maintenance costs. Chalk is very alkaline so makes conditions in the digestion tank more difficult to manage.
I need to throw away these things – what can I do?
Dog or cat poo, litter material and other things that might smell such as disposable nappies, should be put in a plastic bag which is tied tight at the top, and then put in the residual waste bin. This should prevent any smell from this waste escaping outside the bin.
What about smells from the recycling bin?
Food packaging, like the boxes in which ready meals or wet foods like soups or spreads are sold, can become smelly if not washed before putting it in the appropriate bin. Washing these materials is also improves the conditions for people who work in recycling facilities.
If you have any comments or questions about recycling or waste collection, please don’t hesitate to ask your local council.