SUPPLEMENTARY MEMORANDUM BY THE DETR (DSW
During my evidence session on 12 December I
agreed to follow up two points in writing. The first of these
related to the number of fluorescent tubes sent for recycling
by this Department (Q1119, page 27 of the transcript). The second
related to the amount of rendered material from cattle slaughtered
as a result of BSE that remains to be disposed of, and the principle
of disposing of this by incineration (Q1165 & Q1166, page
43 of the transcript).
I apologise that I was not able to answer these
points at the time, and am pleased now to be able to provide the
As of 18 December 2000, DETR and its agencies
had sent around 10,400 fluorescent tubes for recycling under a
contract with Biffa Waste Services. This breaks down as follows:
|DETR(C) HQ buildings
|Highways Agency ||2,262
|DVLC Swansea ||4,350|
In addition, several property centres, including the Driving
Standards Agency, the Vehicle Inspectorate and the Air Accident
Investigation Branch are stockpiling tubes until sufficient to
warrant collection. In total, an estimated 500 tubes are currently
Two other DETR property centres (GO South East and Vehicle
Certification Agency) use "Greencare" to collect their
spent fluorescent tubes for recycling.
The main barriers to take up of fluorescent tube recycling
contracts are cost and space. The additional cost of recycling
a tube is about a third of the purchase price. Furthermore, both
BIFFA and Greencare require the hire and storage of bulky containers
until a sufficient quantity of tubes has been collected. Space
limitations at some DETR sites preclude this.
Mr Benn suggested that DETR could require contractors to
recycle tubes. Many DETR premises are managed by Landlords and
managing agents, and our property centre managers have no direct
"contract" for such things as waste and maintenance.
As a result, Landlords' agents typically take the spent tubes
off site for recycling. The Government Office for the North West
(who occupy part of Sunley Tower in Manchester) have tried to
get their landlord to enter the BIFFA scheme for the whole of
site, but this was determined not viable on the grounds of cost.
DETR also takes an active role in encouraging other Government
Departments to recycle fluorescent tubes, though we only recommend
(rather than requiring) that Government bodies take advantage
of the contract, because of the difficulties described above.
BSE RELATED WASTE
All cattle showing signs of BSE are slaughtered and the carcasses
sent for direct incineration. No carcasses from cattle showing
signs of BSE are rendered.
The Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS) required the slaughter
of older cattle as a precaution. About 451,000 tonnes of meat
and bone meal (MBM) from this scheme are in store pending incineration.
There is a further 10,000 tonnes awaiting incineration from the
Selective Cull (an old scheme to slaughter cattle that may have
been exposed to BSE contaminated feed).
Over the past few months, the amount of MBM in store has
been steadily reducing as incineration capacity exceeds production
levels. The Intervention Board expects to meet its Service Delivery
Agreement target to incinerate at least 60 per cent of MBM produced
by 31 March 2002 and 85 per cent by 31 March 2004.
The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) considered
the issue of BSE and the environment in May 1996 and concluded
that incineration of these materials in dedicated incinerators
at temperatures of 850 C would pose no risk, either to those exposed
to the resulting emissions (eg those living in the neighbourhood
or downwind of the plant) or in relation to the ash.
The Environment Agency has also carried out a number of studies
of the risks from BSE to human health via various environmental
pathways. One of these, published on 25 June 1997, examined the
risks from burning OTMS carcasses whole in purpose-built incinerators.
The study concluded that the risk of the most exposed individual
ingesting, in one year, sufficient material to cause infection
as a result of burning OTMS carcasses in incinerators is less
than in one in one billion. In reality, the risk to the general
public will be well below this level(a) because of the
lower exposure and (b) because the Agency deliberately made extremely
cautions assumptions about the number of undiagnosed infected
cattle in the OTMS.
The risk assessment work carried out by the Environment Agencythe
body responsible in England and Wales for granting and supervising
most of the environmental authorisations which control the management
and disposal of wastesupports SEAC's earlier advice that
incineration in appropriately authorised plants does not pose
a risk to public health or the environment.
The assessment took account of a very wide range of possible
pathways by which infectivity could reach humans: for example,
by inhalation of the incinerator flue gas, consumption of crops
on which ash had been deposited, and consumption of water containing
unburnt material if this were to drain from an incinerator site.
The Agency's assessment was fully endorsed by SEAC, and the announcement
of its results was made in a joint Press Conference with the Chairman
of SEAC on 25 June 1997.
Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP