The island needs to move away from its current ‘disjointed’ approach to waste management.
That’s the view of John Wrigley, head of waste and fleet management at the Department of Infrastructure, who believes central and local government need to work together in a co-ordinated strategy on waste collection and disposal.
He was speaking after villagers in Port St Mary were praised by the commissioners’ office for responding to a letter asking them to reduce the amount of rubbish they put in bins and to recycle more.
Figures shown to the commissioners at a board meeting last month show that the tonnage of waste generated in the village has reduced since technical officer Brian Boyle wrote to residents warning them about increases in waste disposal charges.
Central government is withdrawing the subsidy for using the Energy from Waste plant and the bill is being picked up by ratepayers, increasing every year from £57.35 per tonne in April this year to £161.35 per tonne by 2018.
But Mr Wrigley pointed out that the Energy from Waste plant was a fixed cost - and residents would have to pick up that cost one way or the other, either as taxpayers or ratepayers.
He said: ‘We need a joined up strategy on how we collect and manage our waste. At the moment it’s very disjointed.’
Mr Wrigley said the amount of waste going to the Energy from Waste plant had seen a slight reduction but maintained this was more to do with the economic slowdown.
There remains a public misconception that most of island’s waste heads straight for the Incinerator. In fact only 16 per cent goes straight to the Energy from Waste plant and 50 per cent of total waste is recycled.
Mr Wrigley said there was a lot of ‘shroud waving’ about the use of the Incinerator but in reality it remained an important part of the island’s waste strategy.
It was designed to deal with a maximum of 60,000 tonnes of waste annually but Mr Wrigley said it was unlikely that levels of household waste would ever reach that capacity. He said levels had remained relatively static at around 53,000 tonnes and the closest to capacity that it has reached is 58,000 tonnes.
The government’s strategy is to move towards becoming a zero waste island, with a target by the year 2022 to recycle 70 per cent of all waste and reduce waste to landfill to 5 per cent.
Recovery by the Energy from Waste plant would account for the remaining 25 per cent.