the best advice I got today was “ship your waste to China”

Today I’ve been at the Recycling and Waste Management show at the NEC in Birmingham on my continual quest to find a waste management solution for our stripping waste at Mercian Labels.  The disposal of this type of waste is the largest waste disposal problem we have as an industry (apart from silicon liner, which is already well addressed for volume users).

I went looking for 1 of 3 solutions:

  1. recycling of our self adhesive paper and plastic waste
  2. finding a waste carrier who will collect our waste and collect it for industrial incineration to fuel a cement works, or similar huge user of combustible fuels
  3. find an onsite incineration solution that would safely allow us to us a “waste to energy” route to turn our waste stream into energy for heat, electric or similar.

I didnt get anywhere significant with any of the options.  Despite attending the biggest waste recycling show in the UK, there was very little interest in our industries problem.  The key conclusions from today:

  • There is a no current solution for recycling self adhesive paper waste, but somebody is working on it. There is a limited volume solution for self adhesive plastic (PP and PE) waste by merging it with pure plastic extrusions
  • If you want to send your waste to an industrial incinerator, then you need 5,000 tonnes per year, or else the cement companies and other are not interested. Small volumes users need not apply…  And they will charge you £60 per tonne for it (verses £55 a tonne to lanfill it!)
  • EU regulations effectively prevent us using a purpose built safe onsite incinerator to turn our waste into heat energy or energy generation as the cost of the chimney scrubbing plant needed exceeds £250,000.

The best advice I got today was “ship your waste to China, as they have less strict environmental laws there and they can burn it for energy”. How can it be a good idea to ship your waste across the planet to a poorer country?

So, at a time of soaring energy prices, we just cannt recycle, reuse, incinerate or do anything with our waste stream but send it to landfill.  Landfill is not sustainable in the very long term, and in the current political climate in the medium term as well.

So, we are depressingly stuck between a rock and a hard place.  A solution has to be found to this problem, but at current landfill prices, I’m out of ideas.  It would be nice if our suppleirs took responsibility for the “waste” they leave us with, which would make it a more concentrated problem or a few major suppliers, rather than a large number of small users.  Somehow, I cannt see this happening.

  • Rich

    Do you have the space on site to stockpile it until the situation improves? Is it safe to store it on site? I know nothing me!

    Of course, if you ask me, as the recycling technology improves, we’ll end up mining our old landfill sites to recycle and/or extract energy from yesterday’s waste, so perhaps landfill could be considered stockpiling?!