The aim of the strategy is to change the way waste is managed, minimise landfill and drive new initiatives.
Under the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003, councils responsible for the disposal and collection of waste have a duty to develop a strategy which outlines how they manage municipal waste.
The aim of the strategy is to change the way waste is managed, minimise landfill and drive new initiatives, with the aim of encouraging waste prevention and greater levels of recycling and composting.
Around half of our household rubbish is currently being sent to landfill. This untreated waste releases harmful gases, which are a major factor in global warming. Not only that, but landfill is also an expensive means of waste disposal, with landfill tax charged on every tonne which is disposed of in this way. In 2012, Essex County Council paid over £19.56 million in landfill tax, with this figure set to rise considerably over the coming years.
Clearly, landfill is not sustainable, which is why we need to explore alternative means of waste disposal. This is where the waste strategy comes in. Known officially as the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy, this sets out the key objectives and targets for the management of household waste and any other waste that is collected for treatment and disposal. The following are just some of the measures we will undertake:
Households in Essex are currently recycling and composting over 52% of waste and it is our ambition to reach a figure of 60% by 2020. Measures to help achieve this include increasing the number of materials which can be accepted by kerbside collections and at recycling centres, and the recovery of recyclable materials at a new waste treatment facility.
Despite work to reduce and recycle as much as possible, it is inevitable a certain amount of waste will need to be disposed of. To deal with this, Essex County Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council have signed a contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty to build and operate a mechanical biological treatment facility to treat residual waste.
Essex County Council is committed to the introduction of new composting technologies to treat food waste and garden waste collected from households by district and borough councils.
One type of technology, anaerobic digestion, produces a gas that can be used to generate 100% renewable electricity.
To help deliver the waste strategy a series of waste transfer stations are needed in the county.
The Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Essex - PDF, 343KB was approved by Essex County Council's Full Council on 15 July 2008.