The following report was complied by John Wells. John is a former President of The National Council For Metal Detecting.
Many Detectorists will be aware of the issues caused by Contaminated Green Waste, Mixed in with Metals and plastic it can make prime land undetectable, However the impact of Green Waste on our hobby is just the tip of the iceberg and a far larger problem exists.
This contaminated waste is being sprayed over thousands and thousands of acres of our land on the fields that we grow our crops and the fields that our livestock graze upon.
It’s not just Metal its plastic and the Chemicals contained in MDF etc that is seeping its way into the Earth. How long will it be until this enters the food chain ? Or has it already ?
Recently The Guardian reported on the evidence of ‘Micro plastics’ having been found in the human gut for the very first time and studies on Fish and Insects have also revealed the presence of Micro Plastics. In Birds the plastic has been found to disrupt Iron adsorption and add stress to the liver.
Ultimately Green Waste is a problem of huge significance – what do we do with the plastic we discard ?
An online petition to ban the spread of Green Waste in our fields is shortly to be launched. We would ask you all to support.
Waste: Not Wanted ( By John Wells )
Arable: The UK is the fourth largest producer of cereal and oilseeds in Europe. Cereals are grown on over 70,000 farms, mainly along the drier east side of the UK.
Dairy and Beef : Around 42,300 beef and dairy farms in England and Wales manage over 160000 square kilometres of land
Green waste (Definition) Is biodegradable waste that can be composed of garden or park waste, such as grass or flower cuttings and hedge trimmings, as well as domestic and commercial food waste. The differentiation green identifies it as high in nitrogen, as opposed to brown waste, which is primarily carbonaceous.
This definition identifies those elements that when composted singly or together form nitrogen rich material that when added to existing soil serves to enrich and aid development of plants and crops. Green waste is often collected in municipal curbside collection schemes or through private waste management contractor businesses and subject to independent audit.
Each type of waste has a “European Waste Code” with definitive methods of disposal. Legislation states that certain items cannot be put into landfill sites due to various states of decomposition and reactions to compaction and wetness and the amount of methane gas produced by these items. Such items should be incinerated.
However, the so called green waste now being spread upon fields cannot be classed as green waste. A high percentage of the content is not compostable and needs to be controlled in exactly the same way as refuse going to land fill or incineration plants.
On the surface, The Government initiative encouraging Local Authorities to collect green waste and compost would seem to be a good one. However, it is an unfortunate fact that householders do not routinely place only garden waste into their garden waste bins. Whereas many householders are responsible people there are many more that are not, and as a consequence all manner of domestic waste finds its way into the green waste chain.
As most local authorities send the collected waste to a contractor, their control over the final product is minimal. Typically the Local Authority has an agreement with the contractor that states that a small percentage of contamination is acceptable. It would of course be unrealistic to expect that there would be no contamination at all. This unfortunately is open to interpretation and possible abuse.
Individuals and contractors must ensure that waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human health and causing harm to the environment. In particular without risk to water, air, soil, plants and animals; without causing nuisance through noise and odours; without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.
As mentioned previously, Green Waste, like any other type of waste, has a European Waste code. However recent experiences show it is seldom that the code is strictly adhered to. The statement below from the Borough of Broxbourne, a typical council, which started green waste collections in 2010, sums up the problem pretty well. It can be taken as read that other Local Authorities have the same problems even after longer periods of time.
Extract from the Borough of Broxbourne website.
Hazel Jackson, Councillor for Direct Services said “There’s a problem at the moment with the amount of plastics and other non-compostable material cropping up. Bins containing non-compostable material may not be emptied as, if the contaminated waste makes it to a recycling facility, the whole lorry load may be rejected. It would then be sent to landfill, which has both financial and environmental consequences.”
Contamination of green waste occurs when non-compostable items are placed in the green waste bin. Some of these non-compostable items are listed below:
Items NOT accepted for green recycling
All types of plastic including:
* Plastic films
* Plastic refuse sacks
* Supermarket carrier bags
* Flower pots
* Polystyrene seedling trays
* Ridged plastic (e.g. lego, toys etc.)
* Hypodermic syringes
* Batteries (contain cadmium, highly toxic)
* Energy saving lightbulbs (they may contain mercury)
Laminated, waxed and foil lined cardboard packaging – such as ‘Tetra-Paks’, juice cartons
or washing powder boxes
Glossy paper and magazines
Textiles and furniture including carpets, duvets and pillows
Hazardous wastes including garden chemicals, asbestos etc.
Councillor Jackson continued “Our residents have really taken to recycling green waste and it’s a shame that a few people putting the wrong waste in the green wheeled bins could undo everyone’s great work. Please take a moment to think about whether the right things are going in the bin. And if in doubt, leave it out!”
The green waste, food and cardboard collected in Broxbourne is processed at an in-vessel composting facility before being spread on local farmland to fertilise crops. As the compost is spread on farmland and supports the food chain it is important that the material delivered to the composting facility is of a high quality and only contains green waste, food and cardboard. If other items are found in the waste it could affect the quality of the land and damage the local environment. Issues are currently being experienced with the amount of plastics and other non-compostable material amongst the green waste. Bins containing non-compostable material may not be emptied. (Annual report 2011/2012)
It is stated in the foregoing that a whole load can be rejected if it is found to contain non-compostable items, but how often does this actually happen? Hardly ever! The whole load is tipped and whatever non compostable material is contained therein is, at a later date, tipped onto the land.
Are farmers aware what is being dumped on their land under the guise of ‘green’ waste?
Farmers, in the belief that they are doing the right thing for the community are being conned, and having their land contaminated with plastic, aluminium, glass and all kinds of other products, containing chemicals and substances, which not only destroys the appearance of the countryside, but also puts at risk the health of wildlife, our waterways and human beings.
Thousands of tonnes of this toxic rubbish, containing syringes, bottles, gloves, toys, glass – some of which will not decay for hundreds of years, are being tipped on the fields each year.
The dumping of green waste on farm land is not only ruining our hobby it is also contaminating the land for decades to come. If this continues metal detecting in this country will become a thing of the past. The dumping of this material is nothing short of legalised fly tipping and has to be stopped.
If someone was to fly- tip an old three piece suite down a country lane there would be uproar from all those who love the country side and its wildlife. However if that same three piece suite were shredded and unrecognisable as such and then spread on the land then if those same people were made aware they would be as concerned, if not more so. That is exactly what’s happening along with wood, plastics, metal, rubber and accompanying chemicals and poisons.
What incentive do farmers have to accepting this so called green waste on their land? What farmer in his right mind would endanger the long term efficacy of his land or endanger his livestock and incur expensive bills from animals ingesting rubbish and other toxic substances. The NCMD believes that 99.99% of farmers and landowners in these islands care passionately about their land and the future of their livelihoods. Time and time again farmers
and landowners have demonstrated their concern for the environment and have striven to ensure that the land they are currently stewarding will be fit for future generations
The grim fact is that the Government is aware that the so called green waste actually contains all manner of contaminants and non- biodegradable items. In the past, these items would either end up in a landfill site or be incinerated, but as the European rules now state that landfill sites must be eliminated completely in the near future and there are not enough incineration plants available, where is it to go? The consequence of this is that the land has then become a landfill site, only instead of the landfill site being in a known area with a chance of some sort of control measures being in place, the entire landscape is covered with rubbish.
Yet another Government incentive has dire consequences for future generations. A lot of the waste being dumped on farm land is undeniably toxic and worse still it is not bio-degradable. In other words it is there for eternity ruining the countryside and endangering the wildlife that other Government initiatives are purporting to promote.
It is no use denying that long term damage is being caused not only to the environment and wildlife, but also to public health. The human food chain relies on the goodness of the earth and unfortunately the goodness of the earth is being endangered by the practice of spreading contaminants across the Nation’s countryside.
As detectorists you will now be aware “green waste” has become the biggest threat to our hobby. It is nothing less than “agro vandalism”
Please support the National Council of Metal Detecting in bringing a halt to this disgraceful state of affairs. We are not alone in our concerns as other countryside organisations are waking up to the fact that rubbish that is being strewn across the countryside in the name of “Green Waste” recycling.
Local councils have a duty of care to ensure that only green waste goes towards composting.
Composting contractors also share this responsibility ensuring that once shredded and composted no other contaminants are then added to the waste and ending up on farms, and other horticultural property.
Further stringent government legislation may be necessary to drive home the importance oftoxic non- compostable waste being dumped in the name of recycling.