MWDA chief Carl Beer is encouraging Merseyside residents to increase their environmentally friendly habits to help push up the region’s recycling rate.
He said: “MWDA has seen a lot of change in the local waste industry over the past two decades. Twenty years ago we recycled around 3% of household waste. Merseyside’s made progress over the last 20 years and the figure is now up to 13%, but we are still short of where we need to be.
“Everyone must play their part – or pay the environmental and financial price.
“In 1986, we were less environmentally conscientious. In 2006 we are more aware of everything from climate change and water shortage to kerbside recycling and energy use. In 2006 we recycle much more than in 1986. For instance, we recycle 40% more aluminium cans than in 1986. However, today we produce 20% more household waste than we did then.”
Before 1986 nearly all waste was sent to landfill as there was an abundance of cheap land that could be exploited. European regulations have now enforced strict limits on landfill use.
Then, now and the future:
1986 – 3% of household waste recycled; 400kg of household waste produced per person per year; 300,000 tonnes of plastics used and produced in the UK; 2% of aluminium cans recycled.
2006 – 13% of household waste recycled; 500kg of household waste produced per person per year; 3 million tonnes of plastics used and produced in the UK; 42% of aluminium cans recycled.
2026 – waste production unknown, but projected to be around 700kg per person per year.
MWDA will be investing heavily in improving future recycling performance. The investment – estimated at about £2 billion over the next 25 years – will pay for new contractors, sites and major new technology. It will mean Merseyside can recycle much more waste and dispose of residue in a more environmentally-friendly way.
It is estimated that around 50% of waste thrown away on Merseyside could be recycled.
Recycling rates today of 30-60% are common in other European countries but the UK is lagging well behind. Merseyside currently recycles 13.4% of the 860,000 tonnes of waste it produces per year and is well below the current target of 22%.
Landfill tax is due to rise by £3 per tonne from £18 a tonne, until it reaches £35 a tonne. The cost increases of continuing to landfill will be much greater in the future than the costs of treating the waste.
This week sees two major national environmental initiatives in action, with World Environment Day and The Big Recycle both urging people to think more about the amount of household waste they produce. The MWDA this week is also launching the ‘Recycle for Merseyside’ logo, which aligns itself with the current national recycling campaign.
Notes to editor:
§ Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) is a statutory authority established in 1986, following the abolition of Merseyside County Council
§ It consists of nine elected Members, representing the five constituent district councils in the Merseyside area. It is responsible for organising and managing the disposal of waste collected by the five District Councils of Merseyside
§ MWDA takes a lead in advocating recycling, waste minimisation and the safe and effective disposal of waste for Merseyside’s residents
§ Statistics gathered from DEFRA archives, www.wasteonline.org.uk and www.steppingforward.org.uk
§ The EU Landfill Directive puts statutory obligations on member states to ensure a 25% reduction on the amount of biodegradable waste that can be landfilled by 2010, over 50% reduction by 2013, and over 65% by 2020
§ The cost of disposing Merseyside waste is currently £45m
§ More than half of what we throw out could be recycled
§ The United Kingdom sent the third-highest proportion of total waste to landfill out of the 15 EU member states in 2003 (Prior to EU enlargement in 2004)
§ MWDA operate 14 Household Waste Recycling Centres in different locations across Merseyside