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

Table 4 shows a breakdown of MSW generated in the South West in 2001, by sector and waste type.

31% of MSW was organic waste, which is likely to include food and garden waste, and 21% was paper and card.

Construction and demolition (C&D) at 12.6 million tonnes made up 62% of total waste generated in the South West. Concrete was the largest category at 23%, and inert waste such as bricks, rubble and sand made up the second largest category, at 18%.

Table 4
Waste generated in the South West, in 2001, by sector and waste type
 
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% General*** 2,586 51% Concrete 2,896 23%
Paper & card 540 21% Other general & biodegradable+ 795 16% Inert 2,215 18%
Other combustibles 283 11% Paper & card 477 9% Packaging 1,979 16%
Non-combustibles 206 8% Chemical & other 368 7% Timber 1,426 11%
Plastic 180 7% Metals & scrap equipment 291 6% Plastic 1,178 9%
Glass 154 6% Contaminated general 280 6% Asphalt (demolition) 947 8%
Metal 154 6% Food 242 5% Other++ 915 7%
Fines** 129 5% Mineral wastes & residues 44 1% Metal 522 4%
Textiles 51 2%       Plaster & cement 196 2%
Electrical items 51 2%       Ceramic (construction) 189 2%
Hazardous items 26 1%       Insulation (construction) 158 1%
* 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

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 is being recycled. Figure 9 compares the waste management methods used for MSW, C&I and C&D waste in the South West in 2001.

Figure 9
Comparison of management methods used for waste generated in the South West, by sector, in 2001

fig 9

* Includes energy from waste.
** Other includes waste management methods such as thermal, treatment and transfer.

Sources: Environment Agency, 2000a; Environment Agency & RTAB, 2004; Poll, 2003; Reid, 2003 and Symonds Group, 2003

Waste scenarios

Waste has become one of the most important environmental issues on the political agenda. National targets have been established for industrial and commercial waste (DEFRA, 2000), and numerous targets have been set for municipal solid waste (MSW), mainly related to recycling and recovery. The Waste Strategy 2000 (DEFRA, 2000) describes a vision for improved management of waste and resources. It sets out the changes needed to deliver more sustainable development, providing the framework for regional and local government to prepare integrated waste management strategies.

In 2003, the South West Regional Assembly (SWRA) published a two-part technical report entitled Developing a Regional Waste Strategy for the South West Regional Assembly (SWRA 2003a and 2003b), which led to the publication of From Rubbish to Resource: The Regional Waste Strategy for the South West 2004-2020 in October 2004 (SWRA, 2004). These reports examine, among other things, future projections of waste trends, and various options for waste management. Figures 10 and 11 show ecological footprints for several waste management scenarios based on the options outlined in the Regional Waste Strategy reports.

More detail about the waste scenarios can be found in the Scenarios Report

Municipal Solid Waste

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) accounted for less than 13% of all waste produced in the South West, but contributed 35% to the materials and waste ecological footprint, 13% of the total South West residents' ecological footprint. The ecological footprint of MSW in the South West in 2001 was 0.76 gha per person.

  • Scenario 1: no change in current MSW production and management. In 2020, 85% of waste is landfilled, 15% is recycled or composted and 0.1% is used to produce energy (SWRA, 2003b).
  • Scenario 2: waste management is based on option 5, SWRA's best score for sustainability. By 2020, no waste is landfilled, 45% is recycled or composted and 55% is used to produce energy (SWRA, 2003b).
  • Scenario 3: waste management is based on SWRA option 4c with increased recycling and composting, with mechanical biological treatment and waste to energy. By 2020, 6% of waste is landfilled, 67% is recycled or composted and 28% is used to produce energy (SWRA, 2003b).
  • Scenario 4 : waste management is based on SWRA option 2 with exceptionally high levels of recovery . By 2020, 25% of waste is landfilled, 75% is recycled or composted and no waste is used to produce energy (SWRA, 2003b).
  • Scenario 5 : achieving a one planet lifestyle level of waste management through much reduced waste arisings and exceptionally high levels of recovery.

Figure 10
Municipal solid waste base case and scenario ecological footprints for the South West, in 2020

fig 10

Commercial and Industrial Waste

In 2001, C&I waste accounted for 25% of total waste generated in the South West (Environment Agency, 2000a), compared to MSW (13%). It accounted for approximately 54% of the materials & waste ecological footprint in 2001, 20 % of the total South West resident's ecological footprint . The ecological footprint of C&I waste in the South West in 2001 was 1.13 gha per person.

  • Scenario 1 : no change in current C&I waste production and management in the South West. In 2020, 56% of C&I waste is sent to landfill, 31% is recycled or composted, 9% is used to produce energy and 5% is re-used (SWRA, 2003a).
  • Scenario 2: meeting the target to reduce landfill to 85% of the 1998 level by 2005 (GOSW & DTLR, 2003). In 2020, 47% of C&I waste is sent to landfill, 33% is recycled or composted, 9% is used to produce energy and 11% is re-used (SWRA, 2003a, 2003b).
  • Scenario 3: waste management is based on option 5, SWRA's best score for sustainability. In 2020, 17% of C&I waste is sent to landfill (see policy 7.6 in SWRA, 2003b), 56% is recycled or composted, 15% is used to produce energy and 11% is re-used (SWRA, 2003b).
  • Scenario 4: again based on SWRA option 5, with increased waste recovery, waste to energy and waste minimisation. In 2020, 17% of C&I waste is sent to landfill (see policy 7.6 in SWRA, 2003b), 56% is recycled or composted, 15% is used to produce energy and 11% is re-used (SWRA, 2003b).
  • Scenario 5: achieving a one planet lifestyle level of C&I waste management through much reduced waste arisings and increased levels of recovery and waste to energy. Waste arisings are 447 kg per person. In 2020, 17% of C&I waste is sent to landfill (see policy 7.6 in SWRA, 2003b), 56% is recycled or composted, 15% is used to produce energy and 11% is re-used (SWRA, 2003b).

Figure 11
Commercial and industrial waste base case and scenario ecological footprints for the South west, in 2020

fig 11