Agenda item

Future Waste Strategy Inquiry - Finance, Contracts and Recycling

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services setting out the ongoing inquiry into waste strategy working with the Environment, Housing and Communities Scrutiny Board. The report provides information linked to the service in terms of tonnages of waste collected, costs of the service and contractual matters. A number of external witnesses are also expected to attend the Board from HW Martin and Veolia.


The report from the Head of Democratic Services set out the ongoing inquiry into waste strategy working with the Environment, Housing and Communities Scrutiny Board. The report provided information linked to the service in terms

of tonnages of waste collected, costs of the service and contractual matters.


In attendance for this item were:

·  James Rogers – Director of Communities, Housing and Environment

·  John Woolmer – Acting Chief Officer Environmental Services

·  Cllr Mohammed Rafique – Executive Member for Environment and Housing

·  Polly Cook – Chief Officer Sustainable Energy and Air Quality

·  Jason Singh – Head of Service Environmental Action

·  Kevin Mulvaney – Head of Finance Communities, Housing and Environment

·  Rosie Harvey – Officer in the Contracts Team, Waste Management

·  Amanda Pitt – Manager of the Veolia Contract

·  Philip Turpin – Senior Business Officer Communities, Housing and Environment

·  Ed Walton – Business Officer Communities Housing and Environment

·  Robin Akers – Commercial Director HW Martin

·  Declan Nortcliffe – HW Martin

·  Scott Francis – Head of ERF Operations North – Veolia (attended via zoom link)

·  Donald Macphail – Chief Operating Officer Treatment Division – Veolia (attended via zoom link)


Members were provided with a presentation in relation to Waste Managements – Key Contracts.


Members were informed of the following points:

·  The RERF contract is a 25year PFI contract based on SOPC4 it is a contract only for the treatment of residual waste. It is a design build and operate contract not due to expire until 2041.

·  The technical solution offered by Veolia was for a mechanical pre-treatment followed by energy recovery from waste that cannot be recycled.

·  There are three key targets in the contract:

o  Landfill diversion

o  BMW diversion (which is tonnage allowance per year)

o  Recycling. It was noted that the target for this had been reduced in April 2020 from 10% to 2% with performance for 20/21 at 2.3%. Members were advised that despite efforts made by Veolia recycling had not increased sufficiently to achieve the 10% target. Therefore, with agreement of DEFRA the targets had been reduced for the next seven years. The Board noted that metals are currently the only materials being recycled for a significant compensation payment made by Veolia

·  Members were informed of benefits provided by the RERF either by recycling or creating of energy.

·  Members noted that the facility also provides a range of other benefits including, up to 11 mega-watts of electricity to the National Grid, provides heat to the Council’s District Heating network and has a visitor centre.

·  DEFRA support the work at the facility, this is monitored with monthly meetings and quarterly meetings with all PFI contract management teams.

·  It was noted that the facility has saved 40,000 tonnes of carbon per year compared to landfill, which was the equivalent to taking 19,500 cars off the road, produced 11MW electricity – enough to power 22,000 homes.

·  Over the life of the contract, it is expected to save £7m per annum compared to previous solutions.


Members were provided with a contract overview which included the following information.

·  HW Martin Ltd operate a state of the art material recycling facility on Parkside Lane in Leeds. Around 26 RVC vehicles are tipped per day Monday to Saturday which roughly equates to 41,000 tons yearly.

·  The current contract ends in November 2023, it was noted that the contract had been extended using Public Contract Regulation 72, as it is currently unclear on the requirements of the Council arising from the Environment Bill, the potential effects from the deposit return scheme, extended producer responsibility and funding opportunities from Government.

·  The Board were advised of the pricing mechanism within the contract.

·  The presentation showed the process stages and the mechanisms for removing and sorting the various items of waste. It was noted that any waste residue from the process is made into Refuse Derived Fuel.

·  Members noted that performance and outcomes are measured using information gathered from monthly reporting where material tonnes, price and performance are tracked. Operational issues, H&S issues, legislative adherence are monitored through the contract management process. It was also noted that 6 monthly due diligence audits are carried out on all waste contractors.

·  HW Martin provided the Board with a brief background of the company, explaining that they are part of the Martin Company established in 1996. The company is all about recyclables, with 99% of their clients being local councils, they extract valuable recyclable materials from waste.

·  It was noted that the Council is measured by how they perform in relation to tonnage which is contradictory in relation to carbon impact. Members were informed that as a Council we are driven by Government Strategy which is still subject to consultation. The focus for the Council needs to be on re-using such materials as textiles with an aim to reducing our carbon impact. The Chair requested that the list referred to in relation to re-using waste and the carbon impact be sent to the PSA, to circulate to the Board.


Members’ discussions included:

·  Collection and recycling of glass and the issues in relation to glass collection. It was noted that Leeds currently collected approximately 13,000 tonnes of glass.

·  Types of recyclable materials which are best for recycling to ensure that the Council continues to sustain performance in relation to low carbon impact.

·  Kerbside waste collections, which would achieve the best use of resources and performance and provide ease of recycling for Leeds residents. Discussion was focused on garden waste, food waste, glass and textile recycling.

·  Promotion of the recycle, re-use and reduce agenda. It was noted that third sector organisations were supportive of this. An example of a successful Leeds campaign to re-use school uniforms was provided.  The Leeds by Example website can provide useful information about recycling and re-using items.

·  The Board noted that if food waste was collected, it would make people more aware of how much food was wasted and this may drive down food waste, it is also possible that it could increase food waste as people may feel like it is going somewhere useful anyway.

·  There was discussion of the 20p deposit return scheme in relation to glass collection and the possibility of Leeds introducing a scheme. In a linked discussion it was noted that the Council was looking at the fashion industry and work in this area was currently ongoing with the University in terms of textile recycling or re-use of clothing.

·  It was noted that there are no plans for charging for garden waste collection and that where Council’s do charge, they collected significantly less than Leeds.

·  The Board discussed Wakefield Council and their recycling of polystyrene. Leeds does not collect polystyrene as it breaks down into small particles. The Board was advised that there was a number of different types of polystyrene and work was ongoing externally to the Council with food manufacturers who use polystyrene in containers for change to reduce this type of waste. 

·  Advertising of what and what cannot be recycled is sent to residents on an annual basis and will again be sent out before Christmas.

·  In relation to other cities waste management, Leeds was comparable. Options would be discussed with DEFRA in relation to collecting food waste, with an option to co-mingle waste with garden waste collections. The Board noted that the Council was still awaiting guidance and clarity on management of co-mingled waste.

·  Work was ongoing with the route review to look at how to make the service more efficient.

·  The District Heating System receives energy from the RERF. It was noted that the RERF has a capacity to collect 20MW of electricity. On a regular basis no more than 6MW is used by the district system, however, more sites are being added.

·  The Board discussed the impact of food waste on the RERF and the calorific value of items, for example different types of plastic, that are recycled there and how that impacts on performance of the facility.

·  That while the Council does need to comply with Government requirements, it should have its own view on the best way forward driven by carbon impact in line with the climate emergency.



The Chair in closing the item said that there was a need for a coherent national strategy on waste and looked forward to seeing it in the New Year, he hoped that it would look at the increased impact of carbon rather than on the tonnage of carbon. He suggested that the Board need to be aware of this and for it to be a focus.


The Chair invited Cllr Rafique to add his comments. Cllr Rafique thanked the Scrutiny Board for their input into this as a move forward. This had highlighted the good initiatives in Leeds. However, there was still a need for clear guidance and how waste management would be funded.


Cllr Rafique thanked the contractors for their hard work and requested that his gratitude was passed onto the staff particularly over the last 20 months.


The Chair reiterated Cllr Rafique’s comments.


RESOLVED – To note:

a)  The contents of the Appendices 1 and 2 providing relevant information on service costs, tonnages of waste collected, recycling rates and the contractual arrangements Leeds has in order to deal with different waste streams and highlight further areas of interest linked to the scrutiny inquiry that can be brought back to future meetings of the Board.

b)  The evidence provided by the guests and use this to assist in the formulation of a scrutiny statement to be reported back to the Environment, Housing and Communities Board.












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