This report provides Joint Waste Committee with an update on the performance of the Phase A and Phase B Contracts procured and managed by the South London Waste Partnership.
The Contract Manager for the South London Waste Partnership presented the update report to the Committee. Section 2.5 of the report was highlighted as showing that 83% of Housing Reuse and Recycling Centre (HRRC) users experiencing a wait time of less than five minutes.
Whilst recycling markets continued to be challenging there had been a 1% increase in recycling rates at the HRRC sites which was welcomed. The Partnership additionally continued to work with Veolia to trial new ways of working to further increase recycling rates.
Bags splitting was noted as an area that the contractor continued to work on by asking residents to split their bags and the recyclable waste into the appropriate bins across the site. This work, it was hoped, would reiterate that the HRRC sites were recycling points and not just disposal sites.
The Contract Manager noted that the commercial waste clamp down corresponded with a 7% reduction in wood waste, 27% drop in rubble tonnage and 38% reduction in plasterboard tonnage. This reduction in commercial waste had helped the Partnership save over £40,000 year-to-date.
Members noted that the composting contract was operating well and that there were no issues to report.
In terms of the Viridor contract, the residual waste treatment contract, 135,000 tonnes of residual waste had been delivered to the Beddington site between 1 April 2019 and 30 November 2019 which was a drop of 5% for the same period the previous year.
In response to Member questions, the Contract Manager confirmed that the Partnership had been in discussion with the contractor to expand the reuse opportunities. The reuse shop at Kimpton was noted as taking items from all HRRC sites across the four boroughs, repairing and reselling. The Chair stated that this was excellent work and further noted the Library of Things in Upper Norwood as an example of a reuse shop. Members requested that there was a communications piece on the reuse opportunities so members of the public were aware of the opportunities.
Members noted that the commercial waste pilot had been successful in Sutton and were informed that bespoke schemes had been rolled out in all four boroughs which would respond to customer needs. Additionally, in response to Member questions officers confirmed that there had been no significant increase in flytipping in response to the clamp down of commercial waste at the HRRC sites.
Members noted at paragraph 4.5 of the report that there had been several carbon monoxide exceedances at the ERF although no enforcement or suspension notices had been issued as the site was operating in accordance with its Environmental Permit. Officers confirmed that in recent months there had been a number of temporary exceedances of a half-hourly average for carbon monoxide (CO) at the Beddington ERF. In each circumstance, the level of carbon monoxide increased above the permitted limit temporarily before quickly (usually within a matter of seconds) returning to permitted operating conditions. The Environment Agency was notified on each occasion. It was further noted by the Partnership that the Chair had written to the Environment Agency (EA) in 2019 in relation to the carbon monoxide exceedances at the ERF and the EA’s response had been that “an extremely high level of [CO] emissions over a prolonged period of time would be needed in order to have a significant impact on the environment, whereas slightly elevated emissions over a short-duration are not likely to result in any measurable environmental impact.”.
The Strategic Partnership Manager provided the committee with a statement in relation to the fire at the Beddington site in the summer of 2019:
“The Chair of the Joint Committee and officers from the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) met with Viridor on 28 January 2020 to receive an update on where we are with the investigation and report into the fire that occurred at the Beddington Waste Transfer Station in July 2019.
“Viridor has conducted a thorough investigation into what happened and presented a draft of their internal Incident Report to us. This was reassuringly thorough. We were particularly pleased to see that Viridor recognise this was a 'significant' incident and that they have implemented a number of changes to procedures on site in order to mitigate the risk of a similar event happening in the future. This includes improved management (including thermal imaging) of any residual or bulky waste being stored in the waste tunnels.
“Unfortunately Viridor are not yet in a position to finalise and formally share their Incident Report with the SLWP as they are still awaiting input from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and the Environment Agency (EA). Both agencies have provided interim reports (in the case of the LFB, a 'Confirmation of Attendance Report' and in the case of the EA a 'Compliance Assessment Report'). But both the LFB and EA have confirmed to Viridor that further submissions will be made. We are satisfied that Viridor has cooperated fully with all relevant agencies and that any delays, whilst frustrating, cannot be attributed to them.
“We hope that by the next time the Joint Committee meets, both the LFB and EA will have made their final submissions in relation to this matter and that Viridor have been able to finalise and formally share their report with us.”
In response to the statement, the Chair informed the Committee that once the reports were available there would be an item of the Committee agenda to discuss the incident. At that meeting, the Chair would allow public questions on the report as it was recognised that it was important that information was publically available and that the contractor was held accountable.
A member of the public stated that they had been informed that the LFB had completed two reports; that the first report would cost over £100 to gain a copy of and that the second report was an internal report only. It was requested that copies of these reports were made available. Furthermore, it was stated that the EA had cleared two reports, the first of which had been shared and the second had been held up since November 2019 due to the operator (Viridor) objecting to the contents.
The Chair shared the member of the public’s frustrations at not receiving the reports and confirmed that the reports would be chased and the claims investigated. It was the understanding of the Partnership that one report from each agency (EA and LFB) had been finalised and that Viridor had not objected to these reports, however this would be looked into.
In response to a question from a member of the public relating to the ERF contract, the Strategic Partnership Manager confirmed that it was possible for the contract with Viridor to be varied and that this could, for example, enable the Partnership and provider to keep up with requirements or new technologies. The Chair informed the public that they would be invited to attend workshops to discuss future opportunities to ensure the Partnership continued to deliver for residents.
RESOLVED: To note the contents of the report.