Talking Waste: Environment Bill

Ever wondered why you have so many bins for your household rubbish? Our councillors, Laura Pearson and Nick Byatt are here finding out.

Currently Councils calculate their costs and make decisions about how best to collect waste and recycling and make contracts to sell what we can. The Government seems to be taking back that power and making plans for us and we hope, with us. They aim to decide what to recycle and how it should be collected. Councils are calling for the freedom to decide how and the funding to match. The legislation is going through now. (Ref 1)

So how are we doing locally? Our Councillors have been finding out.

Cllr Overton chaired the committee driving the introduction of kerbside recycling for the first time and shortly after, recycling rates in North Kesteven were once among the highest in the country. We had a change of leadership and recycling has fallen back to around 44%, a lot less than some other Councils and less than the Government target of 50% by last year. (Ref 2) Wales has a target of 64% by 2020, and their Councils are doing much better. Some Councils already recycle over 70% of their waste.

The new idea is to buy us each a new 240 litre bin, our fourth. This is to be collected once in four weeks, alternating with the current Green bin. This is for paper and card, taking it out of the dry recyclable bin and hoping we will keep it 98% clean, dry and saleable at around £65/ton. (Ref 2,3)

If we kept our current dry recyclables clean and dry in the green bin, the extra purple-lidded bin would not be needed. Currently 30% of that green bin waste is wasted, sent instead to the Energy from Waste incinerator because it contains too much of the wrong things or is not clean and dry.

For example, used pizza takeaway boxes, polystyrene and thin plastics are not recyclable. These along with dirty nappies have to go in the black bin for incineration. Contaminating the recyclables means the whole load goes to landfill, for which we have to pay.

Can we reduce waste and do away with single use plastics and all single-use packaging? We take our own bags or baskets shopping, so why not our own reusable pizza boxes, or fridge containers for fish and meat?

How do those “best in class” Councils get to be so much better? In England, Councils who send food waste for composting and encourage people to keep their recyclables clean and dry, recycle half as much again. As part of their strategy, the Vale of White Horse Council made a video to explain the importance of the right waste going into the right bin. (Ref 4-9)

Food waste makes up about 40% of the black bin contents, currently going to incineration, when it could be reduced, by cooking carefully and composted to improve our soils. (Ref 3)

The Government agreed to the EU target of 65% of our waste being recycled by 2030 for both business and domestic waste. By 2023, we will need to compost food waste. The new legislation increases the charges set on packaging in the principle of the waste producer pays for its recycling.

Stuff collected from the bottom of hedges is dirty and so hard to recycle. A deposit on bottles and hopefully other packaging will discourage litter and bring that waste back clean into the system for recycling. I also like the system of marking takeaway packaging with the car vehicle number and the reverse vending machines that already operate successfully in some towns.

Does Waste Matter?

It matters. It matters because we cannot afford to waste the earth’s limited resources. There should be no waste. All current “waste” should be a raw material for something else. That is called the circular economy. (Ref 10,11)

We need to reduce what we use, especially energy, reuse what we can directly, such as containers, and recycle materials. Incineration should be the very last resort as those materials are then no longer available to us. Worse, it is mainly turned into greenhouse gases added to the environment. For example, Stopwaste calculate that recycling one ton of corrugated cardboard, saves four tons of CO2.

In Lincolnshire, we get electricity, but we do not use the heat from the Energy from waste plant. Indeed, we pay to get the fire started and keep it burning hot enough, and pay again to cool down the emissions.

The volumes are significant. North Kesteven alone collects 47,000 tonnes a year from 54,000 households at a cost of about £1.5m. Of the 66% “residual” waste, the majority is recyclable paper, card, plastics, glass, metals and food, but not clean and so discarded.

Where does the waste go, you might ask?

I can remember when chimneys spewing pollution were just raised higher to spread it further and that was good enough. When sewage and other wastes were spread in the sea and apparently vanished. We buried it in the ground in landfill. But it did not go away. It is still there and we cannot keep adding to it. It has to be made into something useful.

Waste from our bins is mixed and sold, so the exact route is not always easy to follow. But we do know this country still exports wastes abroad in the hope they will be recycled there. We are still sending plastic and cardboard waste to non-EU countries hopefully, for recycling. Other materials are sent to EU countries for recycling and some stays in the UK.

What Next?

We need to reduce, reuse and recycle our waste to save materials and carbon emissions. Does that matter?

Even the Covid shutdown on our economy had little impact on our impact on the planet, with emissions dropping by just 6.4% and rising again in January this year. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that the world would need to cut carbon emissions by 7.6% per year for the next decade to prevent the globe from warming more than 1.5 ºC above pre-industrial levels — a goal set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Reductions on this scale would be even larger than 2020’s drop in emissions. The drop in Europe was 7.7% this year, and we need to drop by that much more every year. Doing the right thing with waste is an important part of the job if we want to keep ourselves from major weather events and death of much of our wildlife – in our lifetime. (Ref 12, 13)


Cllr Marianne Overton Leader text/phone 07920 235 364 @overtonmarianne

Cllr Peter Lundgren 07751 112303


  1. Local Government Association View on the Environment Bill Councils welcome the reintroduction of the Environment Bill. The Bill points to a new relationship between local and national government on the environment and while councils are best placed to take the lead on this agenda, they will need adequate funding and access to skills to deliver on our shared ambitions. It is difficult to predict the full impact of new legislation and costs associated, but we know that the pandemic has further increased the financial pressure on councils, any new duties must be fully funded in the long-term. (producer levy and recycling consistency)
  1. p64-144 esp. p109-111, 114, 119,
  1. Lincolnshire Joint Waste Strategy Partnership
  1. Defra publish data on recycling rates by local authorities in this collection of documents and excel spreadsheets. This is the link to the data collection:

There is a lot of data in the Defra statistics so here are some other suggestions if you don’t want to plough through the spreadsheets:Page 19 of this report provides some headlines on councils with notable recycling rates:

  1. Recycling league table from Lets Recycle magazine:
  1. Statistics for Wales are published separately – local authority recycling rates:
  1. Recent LGA case study:Vale of White Horse = maintaining recycling rates during the Covid-19 pandemic
  1. Food waste case studies from the recycling charity WRAP
  1. What is the Circular Economy?
  1. What’s happening about the circular economy in Europe?
  1. Link between recycling and saving of CO2.
  1. Impact of Covid on emissions


The Lincolnshire Independents are Independents in Lincolnshire who speak and vote independently and work together for residents. This is a network of support, affiliated to the Independent Network

Cllr Marianne Overton Leader text/phone 07920 235 364 @overtonmarianne

Cllr Peter Lundgren 07751 112303

Cllr Nick Byatt, Chairman 07875120904

The Independent group at Lincolnshire County Council includes Councillors Phil Dilks (Deepings East), Ashley Baxter (Deepings West & Rural), Marianne Overton MBE (Bassingham and Welbourn), and Richard Cleaver (Stamford West)

Marianne is also Leader of the Independent Network; 07920 235 364

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE
Lincolnshire Independent