Bywaters Recycling and Recovery Facility Bow London Shows That Recycling Incentives are Working
Bywaters Recycling is a prime example of advances in UK recycling. Ever since the UK Government’s Waste Strategy Unit’s final report, “Waste not, want not” was published on twenty-seven November 2002, the UK has been accelerating recycling rates and pushing towards truly significant targets that will significantly cut back the tonnages of waste to landfill. Landfills which were filling at a continually increasing rate were promising to cover the land with waste and rise above it, eventually filling each quarry and patch of waste land in our built up areas and then devouring huge tracts of farmland as well.
Bywaters Materials Recovery Facility (Official YouTube Video)
Over that time public willingness to recycle in their houses has risen, driven also by the introduction of separate waste collections for recyclable materials which have gradually been introduced by local authorities and which have extended the quantity and range of source separated and co-mingled Municipal Solid Waste diverted away from landfill.
There have been good intentions for recycling since anyone can remember, but no real economic incentive was there to allow market forces to develop the markets. But, that has all now changed.
In the background, the Environment Agency has been improving the green safety standards obligatory to of the landfill operators which has at the same time increased their overheads which have been passed to the landfill users. This has the result that the landfills at the moment disposing of the pre-treated residual wastes after recycling are receiving less waste .
Right through that phase there have been numerous doubters that recycled materials facilities will ever pay for themselves, let alone make a profit, but those running first-rate businesses in the recycling industry persisted in their struggle counter to a background of precarious and unsure recyclate resources markets, to acquire disposal contracts and remain commercially viable. They must surely have often wondered why they were doing it.
Increases in landfill tax and costs have now (Summer 2009) raised the cost of landfll tax to £46, or £40/tonne + VAT, this is now becoming more expensive than recycling.
The UK government funded WRAP organisation which researches and promotes recycling and waste diversion has published rates for current waste treatment technologies which put the cost of recycling now at typically in the range of £45 to £65/tonne, so it would seem that UK landfill charges are now just reaching the tipping point.
That all this was ultimately adding up to profitable cost competitive recycling is being confirmed by the leading waste recycling firms in the commercial and industrial waste sector. Finally, this year (with the extra cost of landfilling from 1st April ), the marketplace for commercial and business recycling rate which was previously lagged behind the municipal/household waste recycling rate is catching up. It will soon, as the cost benefit of recycling increase potentially even overtake the recycling rates achieved in municipal/household recycling.
As I found during a recent trip to the Bywaters Recycling Plant at Bow, staff work extremely closely with the waste producing companies from which they accept their waste, such that quite soon after even the least “environmentally aware” organisations come aboard, they can up their game and massively improving the purity of their customer’s source segregation systems within just a few short months.
This is a win-win situation because not only is the residual waste quantity reduced for the client, but the value of the purer recycled (source segregated) material decreases the processing cost at the Bywaters recycling facility. This enables real cost advantages to all parties, not least to the purchaser of the much purer recyclate products produced, who in turn will happily pay significantly more for the better quality recyclate material.
These recycling firms are now well placed to to further raise recycling rates as a percentage of total waste produced, gratifying public demand, and to work in association with their clients to further invest in enhancing the potency of the their recycling processes. These enhancements also assisted by their clients will continue to push down costs, and are providing better quality recycled raw materials, of a consistency, quantity, and quality which could never have been imagined just 7 years back when “Waste not, want not” was published.
The positive feedback that will result will further stabilise and raise the markets in recycled commodities and the volatility in these markets will in turn moderate to become unremarkable.
So, for any corporations that are still not recycling their waste we say: