Jersey's Climate Questions: How can we reduce the impact of waste on the environment?

Jersey generates around 100,000 tons of solid waste a year, the disposal of which has an impact on the environment.

Public consciousness about recycling has improved but collection services are still run on a parish level and only eight out of twelve have a curbside collection for all recyclables.

There is an ongoing debate whether Jersey should follow Guernsey in introducing a charge for waste collection in order to encourage people to consume and throw away less.


What do we throw away?

Food makes up the bulk of a black bag waste, closely followed by paper and cardboard.

In 2019 we threw away the follow amount:

35%

Food and garden waste

30%

Paper and cardboard

15%

Plastic

15%

Textiles, glass, metals

5%

Combustibles (including disposable nappies)


What happens to our waste?

Currently a third of our household and bulky waste is recycled and the rest is incinerated.

Wood, textiles, glass, green waste and plaster board can be recycled or reused locally.

The rest is shipped to the UK for recycling returning on the same boats used to bring supplies to the island.

The rest of our rubbish makes its way to the Energy Recovery facility at La Collette.

Electricity is generated by creating steam from the heat of the furnace which powers turbines.

This is sold to Jersey Electricity and used to power ten thousand homes each year , whilst the bottom ash from the furnace is sold and shipped to UK to be used in making cement.

Pollutant gases emitted in process are largely filtered.

Prior to the Bellozane incinerator, in the 1950s waste would have ended up in landfill which produces large amounts of methane and is far more damaging to the environment.

However there is a lack of evidence about how incineration impacts our health through its contribution to air pollution.

There are also concerns that promoting the burning of waste inhibits the development of recycling.

Currently some materials are not recycled because of the cost of the gate fees so they end up in the incinerator instead.

It depends on the material that you're actually recycling as to how the carbon footprint works. But overall shipping it is better. Unfortunately some of the aspects of recycling do get very expensive so we don't do them and the recovery option is better.

Richard Fauvel, Head of Solid Waste and Recovery

What are the alternatives?

The government promotes the 'reduce, reuse, recycle' message, however some argue more could be done.

Co-Founders of Jersey's Sustainable Cooperative (SCOOP) try to operate a so-called 'circular economy' on a small scale to eliminate.

Among other strategies it sells its products wholesale to minimize packaging and it repurposes materials and surplus footage.

They believe this could be happening island-wide.

It's about keeping materials in use, making the most of resources, and building a system of collaboration. If we had a collective drive towards a circular economy, towards targets like zero landfill, delay on any further developments on the incinerator, and push from a policy perspective back onto the business community and the general public to reimagine waste systems within our community.

India Hamilton, Co-founder of SCOOP

The Welsh government recently introduced a circular economy strategy for homes and businesses with the aim of eliminating all waste by 2050.


Watch more reports from our Jersey's Climate Questions series: