Resource Update | Autumn 2017

Resource Update


Engaging Communities to Recycle More

With local authority finances under intense pressure, recycling and waste communications budgets are being reduced. We strongly believe that creative, targeted campaigns can prove to be a sound investment in changing behaviours, increasing recycling and reducing costs.


Here are just a couple of examples of the campaigns Veolia has been running in partnership with clients across the country to engage residents to recycle:

Southwark Open Day

We welcome thousands of visitors to our facilities each year through our ‘Wonder Day’ initiative.

Our recent Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) in South East London ‘Wonder Day’ was a huge success. Over 640 groups (that’s over 1,000 people!) toured the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant on Saturday 16th September. Children enjoyed sampling the Old Kent honey, produced by hives on-site, in return for a donation to Veolia's charity of the year, Foodcycle. Visitors were also invited to take part in an arts and crafts glass painting workshop to give old glass pieces a new lease of life. Local cyclists were also given the opportunity to treat their bike to a once-over and free repairs from cycling expert Dr Cycle.

Brent Flats Recycling Campaign

Working with the London Borough of Brent and the Brent Housing Partnership, Veolia launched a competition to increase recycling and reduce waste to landfill from 515 households in eight blocks of flats in the Borough. 

A sense of competition drove success, with a £250 cash prize for the flats with the most improved recycling rate. All eight blocks used communal bins, with the blocks being chosen in conjunction with the Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) experiencing low recycling participation rates and high contamination rates.

The extensive communications campaign sought to promote awareness of recycling and waste minimisation in partnership with Brent Housing Partnership. The campaign included:

  • Reviewing bin provision at blocks of flats
  • Veolia Communication & Education Officers (CEOs) dedicated to the project
  • The procurement and implementation of a Recycling Reward and Incentive Pilot Scheme
  • Leaflet drop and door knock to all households involved in the project
  • Roadshows undertaken on each estate

The eight blocks had their waste and recycling and waste rates monitored prior to the implementation of the campaign, with audits carried out to ensure the properties had sufficient recycling facilities. The campaign was then launched and residents engaged with the service.

Station Grove Residents Association in Wembley was awarded the money thanks to their efforts in boosting recycling and cutting general waste in their blocks. Recycling rates improved markedly in the blocks involved in the campaign.


Ray’s Legislation Update

Ray looks at the China import ban, new landfill tax proposals and a host of other legislative changes.

China to ban the import of certain waste materials

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection issued a statement in July 2017 that it intends to ban the import of 24 categories of solid wastes, including plastic waste, by the end of 2017. 

Whilst industry stakeholders are lobbying the UK Government to engage with its Chinese counterpart over this issue, there is a significant potential risk of oversupply, with over 60% of UK recovered plastics being exported to China in 2016.
We are monitoring the situation closely and continue to work in partnership with our local authority clients to maximise the quality of recyclable materials. This ensures they can be placed in sustainable alternative markets. As one of Europe’s largest recycled materials brokers, we have strong, long-term relationships with many reprocessors in the UK and Europe to ensure we have secure outlets for materials collected on behalf of our clients. This renewed focus on material quality will ultimately benefit you through reduced contamination costs.

UK introduces law to ban plastic microbeads in cosmetics

The Government has published its draft legislation to ban the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, a measure announced as part of an effort to cut plastic marine litter.

The draft text prohibits “the use of microbeads as an ingredient in the manufacture of rinse-off personal care products and the sale of any such products containing microbeads,” where microbeads are defined as a “water-insoluble solid plastic particle of less than or equal to 5mm in any dimension.”

The EU is expected to ban microbeads and to take other measures to reduce the leakage of other types of microplastics – such as microfibres from textiles or bits from tyres – into the environment as part of its Plastics Strategy, expected for the end of the year.

Environmental Audit Committee relaunches coffee cups inquiry

The Government’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has relaunched a consultation on how to address the environmental impact of disposable coffee cups and plastic bottles. One option is deposit return schemes (when you pay an extra fee and get reimbursed when returning the bottle).

Submissions were accepted until Friday 29th September, with the Committee due to hear evidence throughout October, from a wide range of stakeholders, including Oliver Rosevear, Energy and Environment Manager, from Veolia partner Costa Coffee.
In parallel to the EAC’s inquiry, the Government has launched a call for evidence on voluntary and economic incentives to reduce littering of drinks containers and promote recycling. The main focus for this call for evidence will be rigid and flexible plastic, glass or metal drinks containers that are sold sealed, and used for the sale of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, often for consumption ‘on-the-go’. Once the evidence has been gathered, the Government will consider the advantages and disadvantages of different types of deposit return schemes for drinks containers.

Waste criminals to be subject to landfill tax under new plans

Landfill tax is to be extended to cover material disposed of at illegal waste sites in England and Northern Ireland under plans proposed by HMRC.

The move would mean that from April 2018, rogue operators caught handling waste illegally would be forced to pay landfill tax. Under the proposals HMRC would also be given powers to prosecute illegal waste operators and impose large fines and prison sentences of up to seven years.
​More than half* of consumers would be willing to pay more for recyclable packaging

The latest YouGov research suggests consumers are becoming more aware of sustainable packaging as they call for more packaging to be both recyclable and made from recycled material

The findings have been released by Veolia, the UK’s leading resource management company, to coincide with the official opening of its Dagenham Plastics Facility which is set to produce recycled plastic for the market. 

Over half of British consumers (51%2) would favour a new drink - of a similar price, quality and flavour - in a recyclable bottle over their original drink purchase if its packaging was unrecyclable. Furthermore, 30% of adults now consider recyclable packaging ‘important’ when choosing a drink to buy, this was selected more than the brand (26%) and the aesthetics of the bottle (9%).
What this reveals is whilst innovations in packaging represent incredible breakthroughs in technology that keep food and drink fresher for longer and perishables undamaged, the lifecycle of the packaging is becoming increasingly important. It’s important that when separated films, laminates and composites are also considered as currently they are often contaminated or are simply too complex to recycle – highlighting the need for manufacturers, retailers, regulators and experts in the recycling sector to work together to make more packaging easily recyclable.
Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice President of Veolia UK & Ireland, comments:
“In the UK we fail to capture 44% of all of the plastic bottles we use but imagine if we collected and recycled all of these. This would save approximately 300,000 tonnes of materials and we’d be well on our way to being a truly sustainable society. 

“I’m a firm believer that the solution to making all plastics easily recyclable and increasing the percentage of recycled material in packaging lies in collaboration. And as the public’s awareness of packaging and recycling continues to rise we hope to see more of the supply chain working together to solve the packaging puzzle –  and our doors are open to any manufacturer wishing to discuss how we can recycle packaging more easily by working together.”

The research is to support the official opening of the company’s Dagenham Plastic Facility. The inaugural was attended by Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business, signifying the importance of Veolia’s new site in the UK’s plastic recycling industry and an important investment for London.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business, adds:
“London continues to be the leading destination for European companies looking to scale up. There are many opportunities for businesses in London’s outer boroughs and Veolia’s investment in Dagenham will bring jobs and prosperity to the area. Clearly, London remains open to talent, investment and business from around the world.
“The Mayor is committed to helping Londoners recycle more and waste less, as we aim for 65 per cent recycling by 2030. This facility is an example of the circular approach to using resources Sadiq has adopted. By taking London's plastic bottles and reprocessing them in the capital we’re keeping valuable resources circulating and creating value in the local economy. What’s more, this research is encouraging news and shows that messages about reducing the amount of materials we waste are changing consumers’ attitudes.”
Veolia’s Dagenham Plastics Facility produces approx. 10,000 tonnes of high quality food grade HDPE pellets annually. Recycling this material requires 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle than using ‘virgin’ materials, and this equates to conserving enough energy to power around 20,000 homes and saving 10,000 tpa of carbon emissions annually.

The Mayor is committed to helping Londoners recycle more and waste less, as we aim for 65  percent  recycling by 2030. This facility is an example of the circular approach to using resources Sadiq has adopted. By taking London's plastic bottles and reprocessing them in the capital we’re keeping valuable resources circulating and creating value in the local economy

The move will boost the UK’s domestic recycling capability, creating 30 permanent jobs in London and enabling Veolia to make and sell a high value product from the 200 million plastic milk bottles it collects annually.

*51% consists of 35.5% of respondents who “would probably buy the new drink with the bottle they could recycle” and 15.6% of respondents who “would definitely buy the new drink with the bottle they could recycle.
252% consists of 16% who would be ‘very willing’ to pay a small amount more for the product if the packaging was recyclable and 37% who would be ‘fairly willing’ to pay a small amount more for the product if the packaging was recyclable.