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Waste

In 2001, the South West generated 20.3 million tonnes of waste (just over 4 tonnes per person) of which:

  • 2.6 million tonnes (522 kg per person) were Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), of which 97% was household waste.
  • 5 million tonnes were Commercial & Industrial (C&I) waste.
  • 12.6 million tonnes were Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste.

Construction and Demolition (C&D) was the largest quantity of waste generated in the South West, 12.6 million tonnes - 62% of total waste generated. At 23%, concrete made up the largest quantity of C&D waste. 31% of MSW was organic waste, which is likely to include food and garden waste. Table 10 provides a detailed breakdown of waste generated in the South West, by sector and type.

Table 10
Waste generated in the South West, by sector and type, in 2001 ('000 tonnes)
 
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Commercial & Industrial (C&I) Construction & Demolition (C&D)
Waste type Total MSW % of total MSW Waste type Total C&I % of total C&I Waste type Total C&D % of total C&D
Total MSW 2,574 100% Total C&I* 5,083 100% Total C&D 12,620 100%
of which… of which…   of which…  
Organics+++ 798 31% Paper & card 477 9% Timber 1,426 11%
Paper & card 540 21% Food 242 5% Concrete 2,896 23%
Other combustibles 283 11% General*** 2,586 51% Inert 2,215 18%
Non-combustibles 206 8% Other general & biodegradable+ 795 16% Asphalt (demolition) 947 8%
Plastic 180 7% Metals & scrap equipment 291 6% Ceramic (construction) 189 2%
Glass 154 6% Contaminated general 280 6% Insulation (construction) 158 1%
Metal 154 6% Mineral wastes & residues 44 1% Plastic 1,178 9%
Fines** 129 5% Chemical & other 368 7% Packaging 1,979 16%
Textiles 51 2%       Metal 522 4%
Electrical items 51 2%       Plaster & cement 196 2%
Hazardous items 26 1%       Other++ 915 7%
* The Environment Agency's (2000a) original C&I total (5.2 million tonnes) included some C&D waste. This has been removed, as it was accounted for in the C&D waste.
** Fines include dust, ash and cinders.
*** General waste includes tyres, Waste Electric & Electronic Equipment (WEEE), fluorescent tubes and lamps.
+ General and biodegradable waste includes wood waste, plasterboard, rock and soil.
++ Other C&D includes demolition, ceramic and insulation waste, and construction asphalt waste.
+++ Organics include food, kitchen and garden waste.
Note : Totals may differ due to rounding.
Note: Due to data limitations, it was not possible to categorise the different waste types into the same categories for all three sectors.
Sources: Environment Agency, 2000a; Environment Agency & RTAB, 2004; Poll, 2003; Reid, 2003 and Symonds Group, 2003

Waste management methods used in the South West are shown in Table 11. The majority of waste generated in the South West in 2001, was sent to landfill (12.1 million tonnes), with 5.2 million tonnes recycled (26% of total waste generated). The best recovery (recycling and reuse) rate was achieved by the C&D sector, at 39%. The C&I sector had a recovery rate of 32%. In both cases recycling was relatively high at 28% and 27% respectively. In comparison, only 11% of MSW was being recycled.

Table 11
Waste generated in the South West, by sector and management method, in 2001 ('000 tonnes)
 
Sector Total generated Landfilled Recycled Reused Composted Incinerated* Other***
Total waste 20,277 12,126 5,239 1,625 215 3 1,069
% of total waste 100% 60% 26% 8% 1% 0.02% 5%
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) 2,574 2,176 277 ** 117 3 0
% of total MSW waste 100% 85% 11% ** 5% 0.1% 0%
Commercial & Industrial (C&I) 5,083 2,290 1,382 245 98 ** 1,069
% of total C&I waste 100% 45% 27% 5% 2% ** 21%
Construction & Demolition (C&D) 12,620 7,660 3,580 1,380 0 ** 0
% of total C&D waste 100% 61% 28% 11% 0% ** 0%
* Includes energy from waste.
** Not available.
*** Other includes waste management methods such as thermal, treatment and transfer.
Note: Totals may differ due to rounding.
Sources: Environment Agency, 2000a; Environment Agency & RTAB, 2004; Poll, 2003; Reid, 2003 and Symonds Group, 2003.

Composting

is the aerobic process by which biologically degradable wastes are broken down to form a stable material containing organic matter and plant nutrients.

Recycling

is the process of collecting, sorting, cleansing, treating and re-constituting materials that would otherwise become waste, and returning them to the economic stream as raw materials for new, reused or reconstituted products.

Reuse

is the recovery or re-application of a product for uses similar or identical to its original application, without manufacturing or preparation processes that significantly alter the original product.