Headlines: January 31st, 2005

Greater Manchester is to get a record one hundred million pounds to improve recycling and stop the growth in waste, in what is likely to be the most valuable waste disposal contract award in Europe. The money is for a private finance initiative to upgrade waste management services for the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, which covers almost a million homes in Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford as well as the City of Manchester.The area produces 1.5 million tonnes of rubbish each year and in 2002-3 only a little over a tenth of it was recycled or composted. The new project is expected to take that figure to more than 50 per cent by 2020 and divert more than 32 million tonnes of municipal waste away from landfill sites.

The funding will help the authority to meet key national waste targets, including recycling or composting a quarter of household waste by 2005-06 and reducing the amount of biodegradable material, like kitchen and garden waste, dumped in landfills. The government’s target is that by 2010 levels of biodegradable waste going to landfill should be three-quarters of the amount produced in 1995. That must fall to 50 per cent 2013 and 35 per cent by 2020.

Announcing support for the PFI, Environment Minister Elliott Morley said the Greater Manchester proposals covered a population of more than two million people and over 1.5 million tonnes of waste. Having a good solution in place was essential. “The size and scale of the project would represent an attractive opportunity for new companies to enter the waste sector and increase the market capacity in this sector,” the minister added.

Councillor Neil Swannick, Chair of the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, said the area faced a significant challenge in changing the way it dealt with its waste. The funding would not take away the challenge but it would be a significant help in developing a world-class solution to the problem.