October 14th, 2016

Rejected hypotheses: analysing England’s recycling data


by Peter Jones and Andy Grant


Is the increase in recycling rejects in England due to an increase in the amount of contamination in recycling bins, caused by growing confusion amongst the public? Last month we identified a couple of other possibilities that would also explain the 184,000 tonne rise: better data capture, or better sorting at materials recycling facilities (MRFs). However, we didn’t attempt to assess which is the most plausible. In this article, we begin that tricky task.

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March 11th, 2016

Rejected out of hand? Media stories on contamination and rats


by Peter Jones


Media coverage of recycling hasn’t got off to a great start in 2016. After a short hiatus following my tussle with Richard Littlejohn last year, my complaints activity has unfortunately had to kick into overdrive. For the time being I’ll focus on four stories with which I’ve been able to make some headway so far this year – three papers’ coverage of recycling contamination, and one daft story about rats.

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October 16th, 2015

Cash on collection: selling separated recyclables


by Peter Jones and Joe Papineschi


Local authority budgets are slimmer than ever, making it imperative for councils that separately collect materials to achieve the best possible value from them. However, while councils are experienced purchasers of goods and services, selling isn’t something they have much call to do.

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June 19th, 2015

Is the LGA right about EfW overcapacity?


by Adam Baddeley and Peter Jones


Eunomia has been publicly warning for four years now that the UK’s “dash for trash” will leave us – like Sweden, the Netherlands and some of our other Northern European neighbours – with more residual waste infrastructure than we really need.

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May 29th, 2015

Pickles’ parting shot


by Joe Papineschi and Gwen Frost


I suspect that the departure of Eric Pickles from the role of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will not be widely mourned amongst council officials. His replacement, Greg Clark, had a previous stint as minister of state in the department between 2010 and 2012, and subsequently held the cities brief. While it may be too early to pronounce with confidence that a major change of approach is in the air, Clark is a strong advocate of decentralisation of power, and might reinvigorate the localism agenda that fell by the wayside as Pickles increasingly sought to bend councils to his will.

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February 27th, 2015

Solving a sticky litter problem


by Emma How


My husband vividly recalls being made to write out ‘the mastication of glutinous substances is obnoxious’ 100 times on the blackboard when caught chewing in class. Although symbolising the anti-social mindlessness of adolescence for many a schoolmaster, the problems associated with chewing gum are, regrettably, not confined to the Just William classrooms of yesteryear.

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October 3rd, 2014

Reverting to TEEP: more Waste Regulations quandaries

Sacks in London

by Peter Jones


The one commonly accepted fact about the Waste Regulations is that they aren’t well understood. Local authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are grappling with the question of whether separate household collections of glass, metal, paper and card are “necessary” and “practicable”. In the absence of case law and with the Environment Agency only now starting to make clear how it will approach enforcement, these poorly defined concepts are far from easy to apply. But I’ve come across some interesting and difficult cases lately that help to reveal what the Regulations might mean in practice.

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