Waste Issues and Options
Waste is not a simple subject. To help you use this document, we have included definitions covering some of the main types of waste, main organisations involved and the different methods of dealing with waste. To help you use this document we have included a short explanation of the main types of waste here and the different organisations involved at the back of this document.
Main Types of Waste
Local Authority Collected Waste (LACW) - all waste collected by the local authority. This is a slightly broader concept than LACMW as it would include both this and non-municipal fractions such as construction and demolition waste. LACW is the definition that will be used in statistical publications, which previously referred to municipal waste.
Commercial and Industrial Waste (C&I) - is controlled waste arising from the business sector. Industrial waste is waste generated by factories and industrial plants. Commercial waste is waste arising from the activities of wholesalers, catering establishments, shops and offices.
Construction and Demolition Waste – (C&D) - from building sites, road schemes and landscaping projects. It is mostly made up of stone, concrete, rubble and soils but may include timber, metal and glass.
Who does what?
Collection – Local councils (district, borough and unitary councils) are only responsible for collecting Local Authority Collected Waste (LACW), municipal waste. All other waste is collected and managed by private sector companies. This is agreed and paid for by individual business, shopkeepers, building contractors etc.
Disposal – County and Unitary councils are responsible for the safe disposal of LACW (this includes recycling and composting as well as landfill). This is often done in partnership with private companies who provide the facilities to handle this waste and work to specific targets for recycling and reducing landfill. All other waste of managed commercially by private companies and there are no specific controls over how much is recycled or even whether it is dealt with locally.
Regulation - Most waste management sites require planning permission. County and Unitary councils must therefore prepare waste planning policies setting out when and where waste development will be acceptable and how approved waste development will be controlled. They are also responsible for ensuring that there is no pollution risk from waste sites. The Environment Agency licenses individual sites and carries out regular monitoring.
Bring Sites – Banks of containers provided at supermarkets, local shopping centres and schools for example, where households can deposit batteries, glass, paper, card, tins, plastics and textiles for recycling.
Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) – Larger, purpose built sites where householders can bring bulkier waste (e.g. timber, metal, garden waste, electrical items and old furniture) to be sorted or recycled. They usually have a one- way system for vehicles and larges skips to separate the different materials.
Materials Recycling-Recovery Facilities (MRFs) – Large-scale sites where waste that has been collected from households, shops, offices etc, can be taken to be sorted and bulked up for recycling. These operations are usually carried out within a large industrial-type building. Some sites may also take a range of construction and demolition waste to be crushed and screened (see below).
Aggregates/soils recycling – Although most construction and demolition waste such as rubble, hardcore and soil is often recycled or re-used on site, there are also purpose built facilities for crushing and screening if theses wastes. These are often open-air sites on industrial estates although there are a number of temporary sites at landfills and quarries.
Metal recycling – Scrap yards are one of the longest established forms of recycling taking scrap vehicles and other metals for crushing and sorting prior to re-use.
Resource Recovery Parks – A concept based on the idea that companies which produce waste could locate alongside companies that are able to re-process that waste in a business park type environment. This could also include companies that research alternative uses for waste products.
Open air sites – Organic waste is composted in long open-air windrows which are turned regularly until the compost matures. This can take up to 12 weeks and is only suitable for green waste (i.e. plant and vegetable matter). It cannot be used for kitchen and catering waste.
Enclosed sites – The windrows are laid out within a large building which helps to contain dust and odour and the compost can be protected from the weather. This process is again only suitable for green waste.
In-vessel schemes – The waste is composted inside a purpose-built container or silo. This gives greater control over the breakdown of the waste, meaning that it can be used to compost kitchen and catering waste, as well as green waste. This process is also quicker than conventional open-air methods.
Anaerobic digestion – Organic waste is broken down in a heated, airless container to produce a bio-gas. Leachate from the process can be used as fertiliser and some of the solid residue may be suitable for use as a soil conditioner. It is used for green waste but can also be used for food waste and sewage sludge. This overlap with composting means that this process can help towards recycling targets in some cases.
Pyrolysis/gasification – Mixed waste is partly combusted at very high temperatures and converted into a gas. Residual waste left from the process is then burned or landfilled.
Incineration – mixed waste of burnt and the heat produced us used to generate electricity. It can also be used to sterilise clinical and other potentially harmful waste. The leftover ash can be recycled, if suitable, or sent to landfill.
Mechanical Biological Treatment – Uses a varying combination of mechanical sorting to remove recyclable materials, alongside biological process such as anaerobic digestion or composting. This can also include energy recovery in the form of incineration, gasification or pyrolysis. Any remaining waste is then turned into refuse derived fuel (RDF) or sent to landfill. Plants can process mixed household waste as well as commercial or industrial wastes.
Waste transfer is when waste is taken to be bulked up and then transferred elsewhere for recycling, recovery, or disposal. Although this operation is similar to that is Materials Recycling/Recovery Facilities, waste transfer sites are generally smaller and only carry out a very basic manual sorting and bulking up of waste rather than sophisticated mechanical separation of different materials.
Inert – sites only take waste that is physically and chemically stable. Most inert waste comes from construction and demolition projects and tends to be bricks, glass, soils, rubble and similar materials. As this waste does not break down in the ground it will not give off any gas or leachate. Inert sites do not therefore pose may risk to the environment or human health.
Non-hazardous – sites take a much wider range of waste - typically municipal (household), commercial and industrial wastes such as paper, card, plastic, timber, metal and catering wastes. These are wastes that will naturally decompose over time and give off gas and leachate. Disposal of these wastes could potentially be harmful to the environment or human health if sites are not carefully controlled.
Hazardous – sites take wastes that are considered to be more harmful because of their potentially toxic and dangerous nature. Examples include clinical wastes, oils, chemical process wastes, come contaminated soils and asbestos. As these pose a significant risk to the environment and human health, such sites require greater control measures. There are no hazardous landfill sites in Nottinghamshire at present.