Recycling target set for 2010

UP TO 60% of domestic "rubbish" put out for collection in Suffolk could be recycled by the year 2010 if plans by the county's local authorities come to fruition.

UP TO 60% of domestic "rubbish" put out for collection in Suffolk could be recycled by the year 2010 if plans by the county's local authorities come to fruition.

However, even with a significantly increased rate of recycling, a municipal incinerator could be needed within ten years as landfill dumps fill up to their capacity and become increasingly regarded as environmentally unfriendly, according to a new county waste strategy.

The strategy, which covers the period up to 2020, has been drawn up by the county council in consultation with district and borough councils.

The amount of waste being generated in Suffolk grows each year. In 1995/6 it was 296,000 tonnes but by 2001/2, the last year for which accurate figures are available, it had reached 382,000 tonnes. It is now more than 400,000 tonnes per year.

Suffolk already has a good track record in recycling and composting with about 20% of domestic waste currently being recycled.

However, the rate of recycling is not keeping pace with the amount of waste being generated.

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The recycling rate needs to be increased significantly to take pressure off existing landfill sites and to delay the need for either incineration or some other form of mechanical or biological waste treatment.

Under the new strategy, the recycling rate in the county will increase to 35% by 2004/5 – above the target set by the Government – and to 60% by 2010.

Kerbside collection of recyclable and compostable waste will be expanded over the next seven years to cover 80% of the county's households.

Kerbside collections as part of a "twin bin" system are already in operation in several districts of Suffolk including Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Forest Heath.

The new strategy recognises that it will not be possible to rely on landfill for the disposal of all of Suffolk's non-recyclable waste up to 2020.

It says a municipal incinerator or some other form of waste treatment will eventually need to be introduced but the timing is uncertain.

Any incinerator plan is likely to be opposed by residents in the area selected for the development, because of the perceived risk to health from airborne pollutants.

The earliest such facilities would be needed is 2007 and, at the latest, by 2013. Ash and other residues from treatment plants would still have to be landfilled.

The new strategy acknowledges that the building of "pre-treatment" facilities will often be controversial and may take a long time to get through the planning process.

Clive Arthey, spokesman for the Suffolk local authorities involved in drawing up the strategy, said it was an important step forward for waste management in Suffolk.

"It is clear that, due to rapidly rising costs of waste disposal, minimising waste produced and maximising recycling and composting is the best option.

"In the long term this strategy will see improvements to services offered to householders, benefit the environment and provide the most effective way of controlling increasing costs of waste management," he added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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