Hello — I’ve had a considered reply to my email from Jon Hastings — Waste Reduction & Disposal Manager I Newham Community and Environment. As Jon points out, the worry is the noise and associated misuse. Jon is happy to meet and discuss in a few weeks, we can arrange a date if anyone wants to move this forward.
The only place I can think that might be logical for the next 18 months is building it into the Mobile Garden City, they are already looking at a Anaerobic digester and recycling is high on the agenda with that whole program. Obviously that would involve LLDC and Chobham Manor approvals.
@Ross_T, @frankdasilva @Samuel @diederick_hattingh @andytotten525 @jb_diogo @ToddYatesUK @Richardl24 @GetLivingLondon @TriathlonHomes @EVRA @E20_ORG
Thanks for your email.
Unfortunately I’ve not been able to get on to any of the links you sent me, owing to a combination of the outdated browser we have on our systems and the firewalls that are in place. However, the former should be resolved soon I understand, as our systems are getting updated.
On the issue of glass, I am aware of how much interest there is in having separate facilities set up at the East Village for this. I have been in discussions with East Village Management Ltd about the options, and back in April I went on a walkabout with some staff from EVML to look at potential sites. We did identify a couple of places that could work, given concerns about fly-tipping, noise and visual impact, but unfortunately both were close to TfL facilities and they objected to our proposals on the grounds of security.
The next stage was going to be seeing if we could trial putting some glass banks in a few of the larger bin stores at the development, but this has been put on hold while an issue is resolved with the contractor that services them. It’s a long and complex case, but essentially there would not currently be any point in setting up separate glass banks as the material is ending up in the same place as the glass which our waste disposal authority is recovering from the general rubbish. I am awaiting more information on some alternatives prior to making recommendations on how to proceed.
The recovery process for the general rubbish is one of two main reasons why glass is not included in our mixed recycling collections. In East London a process called ‘mechanical-biological treatment’ is used on the general black bag waste, which involves the material being shredded on arrival at the treatment facilities. It is then put into 4m-high piles in the drying halls, where it is left for two weeks in an environment where airflow is carefully controlled. During this period the organic elements (mostly food waste) decompose naturally in the presence of oxygen, which produces a lot of natural heat. This heat drives off most of the moisture in the waste, reducing its weight by about 30% and leaving behind a material that can now be handled more easily.
The dried waste is then put through a refinement process, during which series of pieces of equipment extract metals for recycling, organic residue for composting, and glass. The glass fragments are too small and dirty to be sorted any further, so it is not possible to recycle them into new glass products. However, they are sought after as an alternative to dredged or quarried aggregates in making concrete and road surfacing, and this is in fact what happens to most glass that comes out of mixed recycling collections in other boroughs. This is because the sorting facilities for mixed recycling (which are called MRFs, or materials recovery facilities) crush the material to enable glass to be sieved out, but in so doing this reduces the size of the fragments to something that the fairly rudimentary colour-separation technology that exists cannot deal with. If you cannot colour-separate glass then the industry will not be interested in using it to make new products, as the tolerances for mixing of the green, brown and green are very low.
Another reason for leaving glass out of our mixed recycling collections is to protect the facilities and other recyclables. Glass is a very heavy and abrasive material, and its inclusion in recycling collections means that the MRFs handling that material have to be built more robustly and also be maintained more regularly, all of which makes it more expensive. At the same time, the crushing that goes on in the collection vehicles and at the MRF results in small fragments and splinters of glass becoming embedded in the other recyclable items (particularly paper and card), and it is almost impossible to remove these. The presence of these glass fragments has been blamed for shutdowns and catastrophic failures at paper mills, and for the MRF operators there is also the issue of the lower price they will receive for the paper they have sorted if there is a chance it contains glass.
Returning to the issue of glass banks in the East Village, if the current problem with the end destination for glass being collected from such facilities can be resolved satisfactorily then I will immediately re-visit the work I started with EVML earlier this year. There are still hurdles to overcome in getting facilities installed at the East Village, in part because I am loathe to introduce a public recycling bank that ends up attracting the same sort of problems with fly-tipping and misuse that we unfortunately have to deal with elsewhere (which Get Living London is concerned about too). We will also need to be mindful of noise, as glass banks are very noisy when used and the density of the housing in the development means that a publicly-accessible site could have a detrimental effect on residents living nearby. However, we do not have enough of an allocation of recycling banks through the East London waste PFI contract to be able to put one in every bin store, so some sort of compromise alternative may need to be looked into.
If you would like to meet to discuss any issues around waste and recycling at the East Village then I would be happy to do that, particularly if you are having a gathering of other interested residents. I have found that resident Q&A sessions are the best way for people to raise issues and find out more about the services we offer and why they operate the way they do, so if you do have anything in the pipeline then please let me know.
In the meantime I will keep you posted about any developments on the glass front, although I will be away for a couple of weeks soon so this may not be able to advance any further until I’m back in the middle of August.
Jon Hastings MCIWM I Waste Reduction & Disposal Manager I Community and Environment
London Borough of Newham
Central Depot I Folkestone Road I London E6 6BX