Agenda item

Where does Dacorum's waste go

A presentation from Duncan Jones from the Hertfordshire’s Waste Partnership


This item was considered ahead of Item 6 due to external attendees.

LKenyon from Keep Britain Tidy attended, introducing Keep Britain Tidy as an environmental charity which is very well known for litter work but which actually has 3 main aims; to eradicate litter & reduce waste, to improve the quality of public space and to help people live more sustainably.

LKenyon stated that her area of interest is research & innovation, specialising in behavioural research to look at why people behave the way they do, for example produce too much litter, produce too much waste, fly tip.  She is interested in evidence led approaches, using those insights to make more effective interventions to get to the core triggers and barriers to behaviours.

LKenyon talked the committee through the slides as presented on screen (these will be made available following the meeting).


Household Fly Tipping

KBT launched a national action plan in 2016; identifing ‘fly tipping’ as a catch all term.  Research from 2016-2018 was focused particularly on household fly tipping and not criminal fly tipping.  The presentation set out a number of reports.  The 2017 report was carried out in Hertfordshire, including spending time with crews.

The report sets out why insight matters and how the public understand fly tipping, which individuals may be doing without realising their behaviour is fly tipping. 

The presentation also addressed the public expectation that fly-tips will be collected quickly and without repercussion and why perpetrators might not realise the behaviour was incorrect as they do not get that feedback when an item is just removed.

There was information on intervention and the impact of fly tipping and resident perception where people perceive fly-tipping as low impact. Focus group participants were not aware of the social, environmental and financial impact this actually has.

The presentation highlighted building new narratives around the issue of domestic fly tipping and using neighbourhood level messaging to resonate with residents.  It also covered interventions carried out in pilot areas and residents’ perception of those interventions.

Research has found that some Council policies are unintentionally driving fly tipping, such as time banded waste collections and street sweeping where litter left on the street for some time attracts illegitimate fly tipping to those spots.  There were considerations on what can be done to respond to this.


LKenyon explained that the presentation sets out what we know about littering behaviour, which is heavily influenced by lots of things, including location/context and the item being disposed of.  As with fly tipping, some behaviours are viewed as more acceptable than others.  It included information about addressing perceived acceptability such as how to engage businesses in anti-littering campaigns at the point where items are purchased or advising members of the public in how to manage their rubbish after a day out. 

The slides included various graphics and statistics around perceptions and outcomes of pilots to address these behaviours and what positive drivers can be taken forward into campaigns and interventions to address littering concerns.

LKenyon summed up by advising that there is a whole range of publications that highlight other insights and useful findings that LKenyon or her colleagues will be happy to share. 

The Chair invited questions. 

Cllr Timmis thanked the speaker for a very interesting presentation and asked if any research had been done into littering by children and any link to how they have been brought up.  If so, is there a way to impart messages to families?

LKenyon responded that there is no specific research on family dynamics, but there is a schools programme with a lot of engagement with primary school age groups. 

Cllr Harden referred to the introduction of containers to keep commercial rubbish by the roadside and asked whether any feedback was obtained from refuse waste collectors regarding having to open doors. 

LKenyon responded this was not a problem in this pilot as it focused in an area with Council collectors but is does pose a question for a larger roll out.  There is a need to start a dialogue at national level and push some of this burden on to commercial contractors who collect this waste about how this can be containerised so we are not normalising that rubbish can just be placed out on the street.

Cllr Stevens commented on a great presentation with helpful insights.  He referred to the fact that people are not recognising they are fly tipping and commented that in this area, we have changed the way waste recycling centres operate with them being closed 2 days a week.  Cllr Stevens asked whether anything has been done to look at if there is an impact of not having that sort of facility open 7 days a week on levels of fly tipping.

LKenyon invited DJones to respond on this matter and he advised that the County Council amended the hours of Household Recycling Centres and there was an understandable perception that this would increase fly tipping.  But this was not the case and by March 2020 we had driven fly tipping down to its lowest annual level in 5 years.  There is no direct link between opening hours and fly tipping incidents.

Cllr Birnie referred to the suggestion that the intervention of putting stickers and notices around where individual fly tipping takes place results in a reduction and asked how long that reduction lasted for.

LKenyon responded that during the pilot they monitored for many weeks post intervention and it continued to have an impact, but acknowledged it will not last for ever.  She went on to explain that during the trial interventions, the pilot Council rotated to different areas, achieving that reduction and moving on and using the interventions on a rotating basis.  This seemed to work well.  These interventions are suitable in some areas and not in others, so a multi angled approach is necessary.

Cllr Freedman echoed other comments regarding a good presentation well delivered.  He then referred to the data collected on interventions and asked; as this seems to be site specific data, how do you tie something to a site and relate it to data?  He further queried the presence of any hybrid polices.  Cllr Freedman also highlighted the point about suitability of policies and how they are labelled as an issue within this area, expressing his view that some harsh hostile language is communicated at those who visit a waste centre to find it full, and who then leave the waste and get branded as fly tippers.

LKenyon responded that in terms of pilot it is very specific to the Council being worked with to define their particular target location based on what makes sense based on their local knowledge of the issues in that area.  Every project will be slightly different dependent on the scale and nature of the intervention, but they try to work with what the Council was already doing in terms of existing monitoring etc.  Any project starts with a baseline period, followed by an intervention period and then a post intervention period.  They like to wrap the resident perception around the ‘on the ground’ monitoring as they are very interested in seeing how the perception changes and the actual problem reduces.

In terms of hybrid policies, LKenyon responded that she does not have any specific answer to that.  Advising they have worked with some Councils who work on waste prevention i.e. how they get residents to better utilise the capacity they have to recycle properly etc.  This particularly applies to those councils who consider excess waste left out next to a bin to be fly tipping.

The Chair thanked LKenyon for a very interesting presentation and encouraged her to send copies of any literature that might be of use to Member Services to be circulated.

The Chair then introduced DJones of Hertfordshire Waste Partnership (HWP) to deliveri a presentation on ‘Where our waste goes’.

DJones advised that HWP works jointly across all 11 waste authorities and the County Council in Hertfordshire.

DJones talked the committee through the slides as presented, which would be made available following the meeting, and introduced key background points:-

·         Together, Hertfordshire authorities spend £88.35m a year on collection and disposal services

·         In 2019/20 Hertfordshire recycled and composted 52.3% of waste (this is a provisional figure which may rise) and diverted 83.8% from landfill

The previous Joint Waste Strategy expired in 2012, at which point all Hertfordshire authorities signed a Herts Waste Partnership Agreement which governs the way we work together. 

A new Resources & Waste Strategy (RWS) will govern how we work for next 30 to 40 years.

The presentation included graphics on upward trends in recycling and a downward trend in organics.  Organic waste is garden waste and the downward trend is impacted by change in climate.  Residual waste (i.e. the non-recyclable waste) is on an ongoing decline.  Total household waste is reducing and DJones stressed that we need to see this reduction as there is both a financial and environmental cost to waste.  As a species we need to get our consumption down by half to get in front of the climate challenge.  The HWP recycling rate is on an ongoing increase; nationally, Three Rivers and St Albans both rank highly in achieving recycling rates. Dacorum falls 4th within the 11 authorities in Hertfordshire.

A graphic setting out what happens with waste collected within Hertfordshire showed;

  •  the vast majority of residual waste goes to the Waterdale Transfer Station within Hertfordshire. It is then transported to various energy recovery facilities in London, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.  Long term it will be difficult to make use of these facilities for Hertfordshire.  Some of this waste still goes to landfill in Buckinghamshire.
  • for organic waste, including garden waste and kerbside food waste, the ideal waste management solution, particularly from a climate change perspective, is to try to handle it as soon as it arises.  In Hertfordshire some out of County facilities are used for our garden waste, but we are increasingly dealing with it within Hertfordshire borders.  We have two facilities in South Mimms, one a composting facility and the other a farm where food waste goes for reprocessing for green power. 

In UK as a whole in terms of end destinations for HWP recyclables, in 2019/20, 86.52% was recycled.  Within that 54.7% was dealt with in the Eastern Region.  Just under 13.5% of what is collected as dry recycling goes to markets across Africa, EU and the Far East.  These are commercial decisions taken by private sector programmes.  It is an aspiration that we do not export any of this abroad, but at present the alternative would be sending more material to landfill as we do not have the facility to process everything within the UK.  Hertfordshire is one of 51 waste partnerships across the country who work together to try to encourage the private sector to move away from shipping aboard. 

DJones then referred to the RWS 2018, a huge document with 3 key elements that concern Local Government;

1.    Deposit Return Schemes (DRS):  Government is proposing to bring such a scheme back.  There are two proposals, one as an ‘on the go’ scheme where you purchase, consume and return packaging to a retailer to claim the deposit.  The second is an ‘all in’ scheme applying to ‘on the go’ as well as kerbside materials. This scheme may encourage people to collect items from litter to claim deposits


2.    Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR):  At moment this is the largest cost to Local Authorities (LA’s.) Under a EPR scheme, the manufacturers will have to pay money into a fund allowing LA’s. to dip in to help fund the post-consumer management of all packaging, whether through recycling or disposal.  This funding is likely to come with conditions.  Encouraging manufacturers to step away from any form of single use packaging by significantly increasing the cost to them of using it is the main aim, intended to lead to more reusable packaging.


3.    Consistency:  Government is dissatisfied with LA’s. reinventing collection processes across borough boundaries.  Under a proposed consistency agenda; all LA’s will have to collect the same range of materials.  The collection methods will be determined by the individual Council, but government would prefer this to be worked at jointly across waste partnerships.  From 2023 it will be mandatory for all LA’s. to provide a weekly food waste collection (Dacorum already does this but 3 of the Hertfordshire LAs do not).

RWS has carried out two consultations across the county, one in 2019 the second that has just closed and Officers are putting together responses which can be available for anyone that wants to see them. 

DRS responses conclude that we in Hertfordshire support an all-out approach to this, but only as part of and after EPR.  This is a common viewpoint nationally.  We would also like this to be extended to single use coffee cups.  The HWP does not support the inclusion of glass in the deposit scheme because we already capture 92.5% in Hertfordshire.  Scotland is due to launch a scheme next year and it is likely that the English scheme will follow and will be significantly influenced by the design of the Scottish scheme.

EPR responses conclude that this should fund the full net costs of dealing with post-consumer packaging.  Timing of introduction of any scheme needs to be consistent. to avoid funding gaps for LA’s. 

The Chair thanked the presenter and invited questions.

Cllr Tindall thanked the presenter for a fascinating and very informative presentation, expressing his interest in one of the slides which indicated one of the landfill segments was starting to increase slightly, asking if there is a reason for this and if we are able to combat it.  He also asked whether landfill costs will continue to rise.

DJones responded that this is due to our not having an in-county solution for our County waste. Twice Hertfordshire democratic processes have agreed permission for a local facility, but twice government has overruled that decision.  Without an in-county facility we have no choice but to send residual waste to landfill and he confirmed that landfill fees will increase year on year.

Cllr Taylor referred to the purchase of plastic bottles and the usual labelling on the side that says ‘widely recycled’. He asked, what moves there were to standardise that labelling.

DJones responded that a key part of national strategy is labelling. A clear instruction that an item can be recycled at kerbside or cannot is required.  One thing we do not know at the moment is whether or not that label will need to include information about the DRS and/or include smart codes.  There will also need to be a system that will work across all countries of the UK.

Cllr Timmis asked if it is true that Hertfordshire has a lot of landfill waste from London.

DJones responded that there is not a lot, but that yes, we do take commercial landfill and on occasion, some small levels of household waste from London.  There is a duty to cooperate.

Cllr Timmis referred to the Clean, Safe & Green Department having arranged a visit to a recycling facility some years ago and asked if it would be possible to have such a visit again.

DJones responded positively, asking Members to make contact via Officers so that he can put something together.

Cllr Birnie noted that the green garden waste goes to Suffolk, commenting that it seems to be counter to the principle of dealing with waste as near to possible to where it is generated, particularly as there is a composting facility locally.

DJones responded that there are historical contractual obligations to fulfil.  But as such legacy contracts come to an end we continue to move facilities within county borders.

The Chair thanked the guest for a very interesting and informative presentation and commented that he looks forward to receiving the slides.

The Chair returned to Item 6.