Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 460 - 479)



  460. On the disposal side. The resource side. How are you dealing with this? Just as we are talking about Best Practicable Environmental Options, do you think that should also be tied in with sufficiency and effective management of that resource, the waste streams, so that we are meeting financial targets too? Do you think you had the right basic assumptions in thinking what you might need to deal with these streams?
  (Mr Lea) Yes. We believe that there were various assumptions based on the recycling ability of various different county and district areas around the country. Some are very successful and others may not be necessarily as successful as they are. However, we have tried to assume the average impact on the sustainable waste management for the country.

  461. Did you take into account external costs?
  (Mr Lea) In relation to—?

  462. Waste management.
  (Mr Lea) We tried to incorporate within those figures an external cost in relation to—

  463. Someone else would have to pick up the tab of external costs that you have not accounted for. That was why I was interested in your sending us those details.
  (Mr Lea) We have also done a study on the revenue costs of operating these. That will incorporate external costs as well.

  464. What I am talking about is external costs to the country, to us all, not just the external costs that a waste disposal authority itself might consider. Do you think we ought to be talking about cost to the country as a whole here?
  (Mr Lea) That is right. It is very important to recover materials and also to recycle those materials that are possible to recover. However, it is also important to keep those resources down to a minimum as far as cost levels are concerned.

  465. Do you really believe that municipal waste is increasing at 3 per cent per annum?
  (Mr Lea) We certainly believe so, as far as our figures are concerned. There may be a difference in levels between household waste and municipal waste but certainly the levels, on average, are about 3 per cent a year.

  466. Including amenity sites?
  (Mr Lea) Yes.

  467. You said that the Government is to be commended for its actions to reduce hazardous nature of waste.
  (Mr Lea) Yes.

  468. What actions are there to take, which are not required by EU legislation?
  (Mr Lea) Obviously, as far as the Government is concerned, it is in a position to include hazardous waste as a limitation to landfill. There is probably too much hazardous waste going to landfill at this moment in time because the facilities do not necessarily have the additional capacity to avoid going to landfill. So there is a need to install those facilities at some stage in the future.

  469. What about hazardous nature of household waste? Is that in your calculations?
  (Mr Lea) Yes. Certainly, Greater Manchester's local authority civic amenity sites and household waste recycling centres, we take the opportunity to take materials of a hazardous nature out of the waste stream whenever we can, although there are materials which get into the waste stream from the household.


  470. There is no way to remove domestic batteries, is there, from the system at the moment?
  (Mr Lea) Certainly not currently, as far as separation from the household. However, we in Greater Manchester have devised various techniques for separating materials out of the waste stream because we are more of a processor. We handle something in the region of 1.4 million tonnes of waste a year and it is a microcosm of an area having 400[1] square miles and 2 and a half million people. Quite a considerable amount of waste is delivered to our door.

  471. How many incinerators do you plan to build?
  (Mr Lea) We are not currently planning to build any incinerators at this moment in time.

  472. Do you think more incinerators could lead to an increase in hazardous waste?
  (Mr Lea) Certainly, as far as the building of incinerators are concerned, there is a need to recover the materials; hopefully, recovering energy from those processes. But I would not necessarily say that it would encourage more hazardous waste into the waste stream.

  473. Could you put a caveat on that very quickly. How would you prevent it happening in terms of what you fed into these incinerators?
  (Mr Lea) Obviously there is an important collection perspective on this, in that householders should be asked to try to isolate those commodities from the waste stream at source.

Mr Donohoe

  474. Are you responsible for the actual collection of domestic waste then in the Greater Manchester area?
  (Mr Lea) At this moment in time, no. We are the waste disposal authority's company. There are the individual districts of Greater Manchester, nine of the original ten collection authorities.[2]

  475. You mentioned a figure of 3 per cent. I am fascinated by this figure. If you do a calculation over six years that comes to 24 per cent growth.
  (Mr Lea) Yes.

  476. Wheelie bins are not going to be able to cope with that, if that figure is right.
  (Mr Lea) There is certainly a growing waste stream. There needs to be a system put in place to minimise the creation of waste. At a time when we are all talking about recycling and recovery, there is still this increase in the waste stream.

  477. We are all told that the public are becoming far more conscious of the need to stop putting so much stuff in their wheelie bin yet, if this is right, they are going in the opposite direction. I do not believe it.
  (Mr Lea) Certainly the facts that we have—

  478. No-one has come up with facts that are sustainable in the evidence, have they? You have not.
  (Mr Lea) Sustainable, in effect, that we are talking about a global waste stream which we receive via our civic amenity sites and through our central processing from a collection of the district authorities, that there is this growth factor.

Mr Olner

  479. Could you briefly outline to us your waste making process and how the outfit is used.
  (Mr Lea) For many years GMC,[3] the authority, and now the company, invested quite a substantial amount in research and development, particularly around the building of our pulverisation plants. It is based on a DANO process, which is a biochemical mechanical process, from which you get attrition, which then breaks down the household waste that arises. It is able to separate out bulky materials from the finer parts of the waste stream, which is more the organic and finer particles less than 45 millimetres in size. We then have developed further screening techniques for separating out such things as batteries. We do have a density process, which is a patented design, for separating out the heavies from the lights.

1   Witness correction 500. Back

2   Note by witness: Waste collection is the responsibility of the nine district councils of Greater Manchester. Waste disposal is the responsibility of the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority. Greater Manchester Waste Limited is wholly owned and controlled by the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority and is their contractor for waste management. Back

3   Note by witness: GMC was the Greater Manchester Council (1974-86). Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 14 December 2000