Colchester and North East Essex Friends of the Earth

Colchester and North East Essex Friends of the Earth

Waste Campaign

Campaign 1


Our throw-away culture is risking people's health and squandering the world's natural resources.

Prioritising recycling and investing in waste reduction would go a long way to solving the waste crisis. Instead the Government is opting for wide-scale incineration. Read below to find out what is happening locally and how you can help.

Wheelie bin letter

Hildegard Hill submitted a letter to the Gazette and Essex County Standard and versions of it were printed in both, including the Standard on Friday 13th February 2015 with a picture of a wheelie bin.

The Editor
The Gazette Letters

It seems that someone at Colchester Borough is keen to making another attempt at shoving expensive wheelie bins down our throats. Why, especially now when, financially, the going is tough? When every council up and down the land struggles to make ends meet? When we all know that itís not wheelie bins that make the reluctant recyclers become recycling fans, but education of the hearts and minds which will result in the behavioural changes that are needed, as well as an excellent separated multi-material kerbside collection by a well-trained and friendly in-house recycling team such as the one Colchester is providing.

As a result of this superb service which is now including a food waste collection, Colchesterís recycling rate has shot up to over 49%. There is, however, scope for improvement. There is no reason why Colchester couldnít reach 60% by the end of the year.

Colchester has more flats by percentage than any comparable town in Essex. The food waste collection will need to be rolled out to all flats, adequate bins for all the materials and space for bin lorries should be as normal in the design of blocks of flats as, for instance, windows, doors and staircases. Provision of these amenities should be subject of a planning condition.

Also, recycling should be made easier and disposal more difficult: The very un-green practice of dumping rubbish down a chute could be stopped, by removing the chutes (something practiced on the continent, and it seems to work). After all, the residents take their shopping up into their flats via a lift or staircase, so why shouldnít they be capable of taking the empties (which should be far lighter), and their refuse, down the stairs or the lift whenever they leave their flat and put them in the right bins. If occupiers of flats (young families, single mums, people with mobility problems etc.) can do it on the continent, they should be able to do it over here.

Letís not forget that the present Colchester kerbside collection is excellent value. Why mend what isnít broken? Wheelie bins are unwieldy, heavy when full, blowing about in the wind when empty, they are far too expensive because they need a new fleet of vehicles with lifting gear, but they are very convenient if one wants to get rid of something unsuitable for disposal at the kerbside, such as paints, hazardous waste and even pets!

Co-mingled recycling bins often hold unwashed containers which contaminate the rest of the load, resulting in rejection by the re-processors and a loss of income for the council. And, unless there is a fortnightly or even less frequent collection, wheelies will increase the amount of residual waste going to landfill, and recycling will decrease.

So please, letís forget the wheelies once and for all.

Hildegard Hill
Two Hoots, Hall Road
Mount Bures, Bures

Press Coverage

Newspaper photo. Click for larger image Outside County Hall, October 2011: demonstrating for recycling and against the waste contract.

Our letter to the press on waste was printed in the Colchester Gazette on 20th March 2012, as lead letter under the heading 'We must cancel the waste plant contract or regret it', and in the Essex County Standard on 6th April.

Meanwhile, back in October 2011 the Gazette used this picture of our demo outside County Hall for a whole page article on recycling. From the left - Paul Gadd, Co-ordinator Saffron Walden FoE; Maike Windhorst, SE Essex FoE; Peter Foreman, Chelmsford member, Paula Whitney, Co-ordinator, and Hildegard Hill, Recycling campaigner, for Colchester & NE Essex FoE.

January 2012 Waste Consultation

We are asking people to respond to the consultation on the Waste Development Document before 5.30pm on Thursday 19th January.

The Waste Development Document (WDD) is a very long and flawed 'planning' document being 'consulted' on, with a deadline of 5.30pm on Thursday 19th January. It will not be completed until years after the waste plants have all been agreed. See it on:

Please email a response to: You don't have to answer all the questions. Remember to include your name and address. We suggest: 'No' you don't agree with Questions 1, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 14 and 'Yes' you agree with Question 21, for the following reasons:

ECC are imminently going to rubberstamp a 28 year £800million contract at Basildon for an MBT plant for 417,000 tonnes p.a. of "black bag" residual waste trucked from the whole of Essex. This would cost Essex council tax payers £4billion and must be stopped.

This contracted tonnage is far more than the 377,000 tonnes of residual waste Essex and Southend landfilled last year, with Essex only recycling 50% - up from 43% two years ago. It would tie Essex into providing the contracted tonnage each year and would put a cap on higher recycling.

Recycling centres are recycling 65% now and one district is recycling 65%. Foodwaste collections are being started up all over the county and recycling and composting is rising fast each year. Total 'waste' has been dropping for some years in Essex in spite of increased population.

Essex County Council have already permitted a 250,000 tonnes p.a. MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) plant at Stanway, with other waste plants, another MBT plant and an incinerator for 360,000 tonnes p.a. at Rivenhall. There is landfill capacity at Stanway for at least 50 years.

The Stanway MBT would be the size of seven football pitches. MBT plants dry the black bag waste by shredding and 'composting' it in massive warehouses to turn into polluting fuel pellets for an incinerator which is permitted on any of the Essex waste sites.

Here are our suggested responses:

Recycling Letters

Here are some recent (2011) letters to the press on the subject of recycling. The one to the East Anglian Daily Times, about kerbside recycling in Tendring, is a response to an article on their front page, "Shame of home waste figures", which compares the 27% of dry recycling collected in Tendring with the total recycling collections from other areas. Our letter points out the difference is made up mainly of garden waste, which is collected at the kerbside elsewhere, but at Household Waste Recycling Centres (which are included in the county council's figures) in Tendring.

Another waste plan consultation

From 7th October to 2nd December 2010, ECC ran a "consultation" on their Waste Development Document, which followed much the same pattern as previous waste plans and previous consultations.

Waste strategy tenders

On 19th Nov. 2009, the County put out tenders for the massive long-term contracts in their waste strategy. Press release: We must dump the County's waste plans.

There is now a "consultation" with four rubbish options as to how waste collections should be run, which are likely to lead to the imposition of wheelie bins. The deadline for responses has been extended to 29 Jan. 2010. Send your comments to FREEPOST NAT4433, Colchester CO1 1BR or fill in the survey online at

"Essex Works" Survey

Newspaper photo. Click for larger image Outside Colchester Town Hall, 26 Feb. 08: opposing Conservative waste plans and the latest consultation.

Early in 2009, most Essex residents were sent a magazine called "Essex Works" which included a questionnaire "The Future for Waste", also available as a separate booklet or on ECC's website. This survey, which closed on May 5th, was designed to lead people into giving certain answers, so as to support the County Council's preferred strategy of large centralised "MBT" plants, like the Stanway one referred to below.

When filling in the questionnaire, we suggested that people tick the box "Strongly disagree" to MBT in question 3, and the box "No (send to landfill)" in question 4. In the space for comments under question 5, we asked people to object to the misleading leaflet and the limited choices available.

If you had time (and room) you could object in more detail; for instance, you could ask for much higher recycling and composting, aiming at Zero Waste by 2020. You could support council-run kerbside collections, with materials separated at the kerb and baled locally, rather than ECC's proposal for a privatised area collecting service which would take compacted mixed recyclables (this contaminates the materials, especially paper, and makes them less valuable).

Stanway MBT Proposal

An application has been lodged at Stanway, Colchester, for one of three proposed massive MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) plants in Essex. The period for objections for the Stanway application has passed; below is a link explaining the grounds on which we objected to it. It covers some of the saga of our ten-year battle against the county council's waste disposal plans.

dragon portrait The MBT Dragon!

In 2007 we held a demo on Colchester Town Hall steps with the MBT dragon fought off by a five-year-old St George (see the Gallery and Archive pages for relevant files). The Essex County Council and Colchester Cabinet member Baddie was giving the large brown envelope for £billions to the Waste Disposal Baddie for the 25 year contract to destroy our valuable recyclable and compostable resources.

We also opposed the Rivenhall Airfield application, which came up at Essex County Council's planning committee on 30th March, 2007. It proposed over 500,000 tonnes p.a. for the MBT plant, and would produce over 100,000 tonnes p.a. of polluting RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) from mashed dried rubbish, which they say would be burnt 'offsite'.

An application was also lodged for Basildon, with the deadline for objections on 12th April, 2007. The MBT dragon and the council Baddie visited Basildon on the day and a petition with 3,500 signatures was presented to Basildon council.

Take Action on Stanway MBT Proposal

* The best form of action you can take on Waste at the moment is to be informed. Please have a look at the Archive page for more information.

* For instance, here are some recent letters to the press:
CBC withdraws support from PFI bid Oct. 2008
Will ECC opposition groups pull out of PFI bid?, May 2009

Page updated 27/10/15


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