"During the recent local elections, however, the Barnet Conservative manifesto included a commitment that weekly refuse collections will be maintained, and that the proposed Alternate Weekly Collection (AWC) referred to in the November 2017 Environment Committee Business Planning report will not be introduced. Based on the results of the election, this commitment appears to have support from local residents."
I think that is a pretty desperate assumption but this is Barnet.
Barnet are also claiming that the reorganisation of waste collection rounds has been held up by the decision on food waste collection and they are asking the Mayor of London to pay £265,000 in compensation. My argument is that the reorganisation of the waste collection round should have happened a year ago when Barnet moved out of Mill Hill Depot and split the service between Oakleigh Road and Harrow. Ceasing food waste collection would have meant removing one member of staff from each recycling lorry crew, not changing the route.
This seems like an entirely retrograde step; it's not environmentally friendly and it risks costing us a fortune if the law changes in the future making separate food waste collection a requirement (which seems very likely).
I have submitted a number of questions set out below. I will look forward to seeing what answers I receive.
Agenda Item 7
- If Barnet stops separate food waste collections now, what would be the cost of reinstating this service if, at a later date, legislative change requires separate food waste collections?
- If Barnet mix food waste with general waste how easy would it be to introduce fortnightly general waste collections in the future if financial pressures required this?
- Please can you clarify whether the Mayor of London has confirmed that he will not take legal actions against Barnet if food waste collections cease?
- As part of the risk assessment on this decision have you calculated the potential legal cost of any challenge by the Mayor if you do stop food waste collections and if so how much have you estimated this might cost?
- In Mr Hooton’s letter of 3 September to the Deputy Mayor, he stated that the knock on effects of the decision on food waste collections had prevented the implementation of the new rounds. What evidence is there to support that statement and the demand for compensation given that the biggest driver of round rationalisation was the move from one depot to two, not the cessation of food waste collections?
- The report makes it clear that £900,000 a year could be saved by retaining weekly food waste collections and moving to fortnightly general waste collections. There is also widespread and consistent evidence that this can be an effective way of boosting recycling rates. Given that 248 out of 326 local authorities (76%) across England with responsibility for waste collections run fortnightly general rubbish rounds for some or all households, what makes Barnet different from the majority of other local councils?
- Can you confirm that the gate fees for food waste sent to anaerobic digestion are £58 per tonne cheaper than sending food waste for incineration and that the reduced gate fee accrued this year will be credited to Barnet in next year’s NLWA levy?
- At Appendix K the cost savings are stated for the full year 2018-19 at £543,448 yet at Appendix D it states that the savings could be £296,848. Given that the figure in Appendix K appears to take no account of the reduced gate fees for food waste sent to anaerobic digestion it gives an entirely false impression of the potential savings. Can you clarify the basis for this figure and why it differs from the figure provided to me on 22 August?
- £130,000 of the alleged £296,848 savings relates to the withdrawal of food waste collections on “Restrict Access Rounds”. Can you clarify where those rounds serve, why the food waste collection savings would be so high and whether consideration was given to only ceasing food collection on those rounds rather than the borough wide service?
- Did Barnet’s legal team review the letter Mr Hooton sent to the Deputy Mayor and did they review the basis of the £265,000 compensation demand made by Mr Hooton?
- Can you clarify where anaerobic digestions sits in the DEFRA Waste Hierarchy compared to incineration of food waste and whether that changes if the digestate meets the AD Quality Protocol?
- What steps have been taken to identify if the current AD operator meets the AD Quality Protocol and if not, how easy it would be to achieve.
- One of the academic studies cited in the report at Appendix Lii was carried out in 2005. In 2005 there were only 2 Anaerobic Digesters operating in the UK outside the water industry (i.e non sewage sludge). In 2018 there are 449 non sewage sludge Anaerobic Digesters in the UK and 106 commercial/ municipal ADs . Given that the industry has changed dramatically since this study was written does it give an accurate representation of the facts?
- The academic study at Appendix Li is based on one study in Italy. The study appears to have assumed that AD is followed by composting of the digestate which appears to be a different model compared to the UK AD industry. It also appears to ignore the value of the digestate as a direct replacement for artificial fertiliser. As such are you sure that this study is a suitable example on which to base a decision in the UK?
- Have the Council taken legal advice as to the likelihood that a revised EU directive on waste (and specifically a revised Article 22 requiring separate food waste collection) might become a condition of a negotiated free trade agreement with the EU?
- The National Infrastructure Commission has recommended that government should establish separate food waste collection for households and businesses (to enable production of biogas) by 2025. How would Barnet respond to such a requirement?
- Have Capita been involved in any of the discussions regarding the cessation of food waste collections and will any decision taken create a gainshare liability?
Agenda Item 8
- In 2013 Barnet spent a total of £11 million introducing the blue and brown bins, a new fleet of refuse vehicles, advertising and education programme. Before the introduction of this service recycling rates were 33%. If you cease the food waste collections the recycling rate will be 33.6%. What specific initiatives will you implement as a result of ceasing food waste collection that will help Barnet get anywhere close to the target of 50%?
- Since the new recycling service was introduced in 2013 how much has been spent on encouraging Barnet residents to recycle in the form of: advertising; promotions; leaflets; recycling ambassadors; activities in schools; talks to clubs and voluntary organisations; organised trips to the recycling centre and anaerobic digester etc.?
- The Action Plan identified at Appendix A seems to lack any tangible activities initiated by Barnet to encourage householders to recycle more. Why has so little emphasis been placed on such an important target group?
Agenda Item 10
- Have Capita been involved in any of the discussions regarding the reprocurement of the advertising contract and will any decision taken create a gainshare liability?