Can Birmingham’s rubbish mountain be cut in half ? Birmingham Friends of the Earth say that this is a realistic target for the city, and that national waste policy should plan for a halving of rubbish in every town.
There have been recent concerns about a plague of pigeons and sea-gulls in Birmingham , also rats and urban foxes, feasting on waste food from black bags. A solution could be for kitchen waste to be separately collected from households and catering outlets. Kitchen waste bins are collected from households on a weekly basis in towns such as Bristol, Swansea, Leeds and Preston.
The leading waste digestion company Biogen has a number of plants in the Midlands, which turn such waste into fertiliser to spread on the fields, and gas, which is used to heat buildings or to generate electricity.
“We have learned that 38% of household rubbish is kitchen waste” says Joe Peacock of Birmingham Friends of the Earth. “If it can be kept separate, the remaining dry wastes can mostly be recycled. Both components could become a resource instead of a problem. Birmingham’s recycling rate could be doubled by 2020, and our rubbish mountain halved, or better. In fact this has to happen if the City Council’s own target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% is to be met”.
At present, Birmingham’s black bags are burned in the incinerator at Tyseley. Most of its energy value is wasted, say the local waste campaigners, and they want the facility phased out after the Council’s contract with the owners Veolia expires in 2019.
David Cameron’s government is currently reviewing the waste policy for England. The new policy will be ready in May and will outline a path towards a “zero waste economy”. This gives a chance to move away from burning and burying waste to recycling or digesting most of our waste, as happens in many European countries.
If residents want to reduce both problems with animals making a mess of their bin-bags and waste by up to 50%, BFOE encourage them to contact their local MP by letter, email or in-person and urge them to put pressure on the government to develop a strategy that will benefit us all and clean up our cities.
DEFRA Waste review http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/waste-review/
Friends of the Earth’s national campaign http://www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/talking_half_rubbish_27167.html
Contact Birmingham Friends of the Earth firstname.lastname@example.org