SUPPLEMENTARY MEMORANDUM BY THE DEPARTMENT
OF THE ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS (DSW 13(C))
During my evidence session on 21 December I
agreed to follow up four points in writing. The first of these
related to composting standards (Q1210, page 145 of the transcript).
The second related to separated doorstep collection schemes (Q1217,
page 146 of the transcript). The third related to the National
Household Waste Analysis programme (Q1246, page 149 of the transcript).
The fourth related to emissions from cement kilns (Q1276, page
152 of the transcript).
I am pleased now to be able to provide the following
Composting standards; the differences between
proposed EU directive standards and self-imposed standards.
The Commission's waste management unit have
proposed statutory standards for composting, which would determine
the amount of material that may be applied to agricultural and
other land, and at what frequency. They suggest there should be
three classes, or levels, based on heavy metals content, amount
of organic material, and contaminants.
We fully support the development of quality
standards, as this will help support and develop the market for
green waste compost, giving consumers added confidence in the
product. As I said to the Committee, however, we would prefer
standards to be drawn up on the basis of end use and fitness for
purpose, rather than merely as a soil protection measure. This
is a more efficient approach, as producers would not be required
to reach inappropriately high standards for the use their customers
have in mind. This in turn will mean lower prices and an increased
commercial viability of compost generally.
In the UK, there is already a non-statutory
quality standard for compost, developed and operated by the Composting
Association. It is broadly equivalent to the Commission's proposed
intermediate class. Producers are entitled to use the given trademark
if their product meets the requirements of the Association's standard
and use it in their marketing. We are liaising closely with the
Association and other stakeholders over our discussions with the
The percentage of households that currently
have access to a separated doorstep collection scheme.
In England and Wales 43 per cent of households
(about 9.3 million) are served by kerbside separated recycling
collection schemes. [These are mainly served by separate collection
schemes with a few integrated schemes.]
When results can be expected from the National
Household Waste Analysis Programme.
The National Waste Analysis Programme Phase
3 will deliver its final results in about two years time. The
main study will not start until a pilot study, in Wales, has been
carried out in order to finalise sorting methods and classification
systems. The National Waste Analysis Programme will include a
week on week tracking study, therefore data collection and analysis
will necessarily continue for at least a year.
The comparability of emissions from hazardous
waste incinerators and from cement kilns burning hazardous waste.
The Environment Agency advises me that in applying
the Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive (HWID) to cement plants
burning hazardous waste, the Agency has imposed the same emission
limits on the flue gas generated by hazardous waste as it would
if the waste was burned in a dedicated hazardous waste incinerator.
In other words, the emissions from a cement kiln burning hazardous
waste would be apportioned between those emissions arising from
the burning of waste and those arising from the combustion of
conventional fuel: the HWID limits apply to the former, and the
latter are regulated in accordance with BATNEEC.
The method of doing this is prescribed by the
HWID. The Agency is aware of recent claims in a European Environmental
Bureau-commissioned report that co-incinerators (such as cement
kilns) have less stringent controls than dedicated incinerators.
The Agency is currently studying these claims and will be reporting
to my Department shortly.
The Agency rightly points out that it is not
possible to prove absolutely that emissions from the burning of
hazardous waste in a cement kiln are in practice greater than
or less than the emissions from a dedicated hazardous waste incinerator.
This is because the gases from calcination of the raw materials
in a cement kiln are intimately mixed with the combustion gases
derived from burning the waste and conventional fuel. However,
because of the temperature at which the gases are burned and the
duration when they are at that temperature (approximately 1500C
for six seconds), the alkaline atmosphere in cement kilns, and
the low solid levels in substitute liquid fuel, the Agency considers
that burning hazardous waste in a cement kiln would not result
in a breach of the HWID limits for the proportion of the gas derived
from hazardous waste burning.
The Agency also comment that burning of hazardous
waste in cement kilns achieves energy recovery in-line with the
Government's waste hierarchy. As long as the same limits are applied
to emissions from this waste stream as would be applied to waste
incineration plant the Agency sees no reason to modify its regulatory
Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP