East Lancashire's waste won't be heading to the west of the county anytime soon

The carbon footprint and costs that would be created by transferring non-recycled rubbish from East Lancashire to processing plants elsewhere in the county mean it does not make sense to do it, according to the man in charge of the region's refuse.

By Paul Faulkner
Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 5:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 5:39 pm

Steve Scott, Lancashire County Council’s head of waste management, was speaking after it emerged at a meeting of the authority's external scrutiny committee that there is spare capacity at the council's two treatment facilities in South Ribble and Wyre - while the east remains without any such unit.

That means residual waste from that area - rubbish that has not been sent for recycling - usually ends up in landfill.

But Mr. Scott said there is no “economic or environmental case” for shipping it from East Lancashire to the council’s processing plants at Farington and Thornton - which seek to keep as much waste as possible out of the ground - and that they could only cope with some of the rubbish generated by those districts in any case.

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Non-recycled rubbish from East Lancashire has a different destination to that generated in central and western parts of the county

He added: "Our waste processing facilities are working very efficiently and diverting 96 percent of all the waste they receive from landfill, due to a combination of recycling, composting, and producing fuel. The plants also reduce the mass of some of the waste by reducing its moisture content.

"As well as the environmental benefits, the high cost of landfill tax creates a strong incentive for diverting as much waste from landfill as we can through household recycling and using the existing plants.

“We are developing proposals to provide treatment of the residual waste which currently goes to landfill from 2025 when our existing landfill contract ends.”

That contract commits County Hall to guarantee the site operator a minimum tonnage of waste material.

But the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the arrangement does not force the council actually to deposit a fixed amount of rubbish in landfill - but instead to pay the price which would be charged if it were making expected use of the facility.

Under the contract, the authority is liable for what is known as the ‘gate price’ up to an agreed threshold - even if that threshold volume of waste is not actually put in the ground. But diverting rubbish from landfill means that the council avoids the government’s landfill tax - which is between and three four times the gate price and so still gives waste bosses an incentive to maximise recycling.

Residual waste from the east of the county goes to the Whinney Hill landfill site in Accrington.

A third plant processing plant was proposed for the eastern districts under a previous private finance initiative (PFI) contract between Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and a waste management and construction firm. However, that deal was terminated in 2014, two decades earlier than planned.

All local councils have been told by the government that they must be recycling more than 50 percent of their rubbish by this year.