Interesting press call this week. The council wanted to reassure Bristolians their waste wasn’t being piled up as various newspaper scare stories have reported (this is one example among many).
Councillor Judith Price’s argument was that the terms of Bristol’s contract with SITA mean that, whatever happens to the global market in recyclables, our stuff is not being stockpiled. SITA, she said, are a big enough player to find markets anywhere for the stuff we put out. Certainly she said, Bristol council tax payers are not paying extra if the market price drops or, in the worst case, material cannot be sold at all. She was adamant the council contract with SITA is “tight” enough to protect us from market fluctuations.
She also told me there had been a slight drop in the amount that people put out for recycling over November and December, but the press office claimed this was typical and seasonal. My story therefore was to report the council’s rebuttal of the recent newspaper reports. I
was interested to see that the Evening Post‘s angle on this was to report that a large amount of our stuff is sent abroad for recycling. I’m not quite sure this angle is relevant. Don’t we all know there is a global market for recycled material? Obviously it would be preferable to have it all recycled in the UK (it would be much greener) but unless the CO2 emissions from moving the stuff are greater than the CO2 and methane emissions from putting it in landfill, is this a scandal? We currently bus our garden waste down to Dorset.
European waste markets are set in tons. i.e. we avoid fines by keeping a mass of stuff out of the ground. Until European targets are set by greenhouse gas avoidance, councils will continue to measure their success by tonnage diverted.