Cleanstream - Total Resource Recovery Systems

01 March 2000



Working in strategic partnership with government at all levels to plan and instigate a process of change.


We do not have a waste problem we have a MIXED-WASTE problem.

The rhetoric within the waste debate disguises one simple fact – that if we separate used materials in the first place, we have an opportunity.

Cylch would like to introduce Cleanstream® - Total Resource Recovery Systems as the vehicle that creates and develops this opportunity. It sets a standard and describes a process to achieve radical change in the way we manage resources after first use.

Just as we create waste when we mix materials in our waste bins we can abolish it by putting materials out separately.

Post-war generations have made a serious mistake by paying scant attention to the subject of waste. A waste industry has evolved by investing in ways of getting waste out-of-sight and out-of-mind as efficiently as possible. The faster and cheaper the better.

In this industry Landfill is top of the profit hierarchy but bottom of the sustainable waste management hierarchy. Wealth creation and patterns of consumption now depend on the instantaneous destruction of resources after first use.

This is not sustainable – it is the environmental footprint we are leaving for future generations to deal with - in the form of wasted resources and pollution of land, sea and air. We have begun to pay the cost of cleaning up the mess caused by our neglect, and the costs are rising fast.

The planet is biting back; the pollution is long-term, irreversible in some cases. We are being forced to take notice and make changes.

Legislation from Europe in the form of the landfill directive has arrived to make us change. Waste reduction is to become a statutory duty for Local Authorities for the very first time from July 16th 2001, specific and challenging targets must be achieved.

This document defines a standard in resource recovery called CLEANSTREAM® and shows how Wales can utilise its new found political independence and Objective 1 status in order to reap the tremendous benefits of changing to this very Sustainable Resource Management System.

It is a radical approach to a high-achieving system that will enable Wales to exceed all the targets set in the new legislation. It also has the distinct advantage of being the cheapest long-term strategy.

Mal Williams
Cylch – Wales Community Recycling Network
National Co-ordinator


Cylch’s Community Waste Strategy is based on working in partnership with government at a national, regional and local level to achieve a Sustainable Resource Management Strategy and Implementation Plan that will reduce waste. To meet and exceed the targets set by the current legislation in the Landfill Directive and the forthcoming UK Waste Strategy. Cleanstream® is a quality standard but this document incorporates it into a PROCESS of managing change.


Working with partners at the All - Wales level to influence the Wales Waste Strategy to ensure that the Community Sector’s experience and expertise is recognised and valued.

Working at the Regional level to assist with aspects of waste planning that require this scale for Best Practical Environmental Option and helping the business planning co-ordination at that level

Cylch is advocating that Local Authorities and Community Sector Enterprises in each area should enter a formal partnership to work together to establish a service provision to deal with the three main areas of waste collection that Local Authorities are responsible for.

  1. All household and some commercial waste, including hazardous wastes.
  2. Bulky household waste collection and special waste collections.
  3. Civic amenity site waste.

Applying the waste hierarchy to these three areas to achieve a service that:

Each plan should be tested in the arena of “Best Value” contracting and be measured in the context of sustainable development in accordance with all the performance indicators and benchmarks contained therein.

The maximum amount of materials will be diverted from disposal. Recycling and landfill directive targets will be met.


Advantages of partnership working.

In the current circumstances it will always be beneficial to work in partnership because Local Authorities and Community Sector enterprises can bring separate resources to the table. Each partner is publicly accountable and has access to different sources of finance.

The Community sector is acknowledged as having a good record of motivating people to participate in innovatory projects that manage change. From sheer necessity they have had to form alliances that bring added value to the work that they do and link change to community benefit. This is often in the form of giving opportunity and employment to otherwise disadvantaged sectors of society.

Cylch believes that if these factors are taken into consideration the partnership should succeed in providing a Best Value service by any measure since no profit is sought. By keeping the service provision local the benefits will be retained locally.


Cylch does not want to hide from the fact that a change to the collection system will require a very substantial financial investment. We need to change the collection system to Cleanstream® and make a major commitment to public education about waste.

But this investment is a once and for all injection of money and effort that will have an immediate effect and will lead, within 5 years, to a situation of much lower costs.

The performance of properly-resourced projects world-wide are evidence of this.


We are certain that if the change is properly planned, adequately resourced and enthusiastically implemented, the targeted waste can be reduced to a fifth of its current level within 5 years and that the total waste bill will be a reducing figure.
It is worth noting at this point that 60%+ of controlled waste is organic (the subject of the landfill directive’s principle target). So if this can be composted or digested, and it surely can in Wales, then we would achieve the recycling targets by this method alone.
This form of resource management will result in a much cheaper system in the long run. Maintaining mixed waste collection and disposal will certainly become more and more expensive.


Cylch has registered the term CLEANSTREAM® with the Patents Office to describe the method of collection, handling, sorting and reprocessing that separation at source requires and that Cylch advocates. As the word implies we encourage and enable every individual to look at the materials we call “waste” afresh – to think of them as resources and maintain them as such by providing user-friendly facilities and systems to keep them clean and separate. If materials can be collected in this way they can be re-used. Any compromise will cause problems.

We must make the necessary investment in the vehicles, equipment and household/office bins that will make Cleanstream® operations easy, effective and reliable.


Cylch would seek to participate with the Local Authority in setting up a forum to jointly manage a not-for-profit enterprise that would carry out the Cleanstream® development to a long-term plan and in context of a Welsh Waste Strategy. This would involve existing local organisations pooling their resources and efforts to agree a plan and creating new organisations to ensure service delivery across the three waste streams. Once the local partnership enterprise is up and running Cylch would withdraw. It’s role would revert to one of Network support, training and Cleanstream® accreditation and monitoring. Each local enterprise would be managed locally.

Typically each area will plan, over time, to have:
  1. Weekly collection of dry recyclables. (Paper and card, metals, foils, plastics, glass, textiles)
  2. Weekly collection of kitchen organic materials. (Also green garden waste in some areas.)
  3. Fortnightly collection of inseparable, mixed materials - residual waste.

Identifying existing resources – assuming no new legislation or changes to existing regulations.

Part of the planning process will be seeking the optimum use of available resources identified by the partnership. This will require some joined-up thinking by all concerned from the highest level, but likely sources include:-

National Assembly of Wales (NAW)
Funding sources that exist to encourage and facilitate National Waste Strategy planning and implementation.
Officer time to assist with hosting and co-ordination of a Wales National Waste Forum, circulating agendas and minutes of meetings.
Helping to instigate and assist with sub-regional planning.
Commissioning research where necessary.
Assistance in supporting partnership EU funding bids.

Environment Agency in Wales. Waste planning group.
Providing advice on planning and providing data and analysis to the National Waste Forum and to regional and local committees as appropriate.
Technical assistance.
Commissioning research where necessary.

Welsh Development Agency (WDA)
Since the change will offer the chance to create thousands of jobs in the new collection system and local reprocessing and re-use enterprises, economic development funds held for that purpose by the WDA could be applied to encourage this.
Officer time at national and regional levels to assist planning and co-ordination.
Assistance in supporting partnership EU funding bids.
Funds for commissioning R&D into materials’ re-use and market development, supporting new homegrown enterprises.

WLGA and Local Authorities

Community Sector

Partnership applications for:

Introducing change by rolling out the planned programme until the whole system has changed and everyone in the area has a reliable and effective service. Applying monitoring techniques that enable performance appraisal and improvement to the highest Cleanstream® standards achievable.

Cylch would seek resources to be able to accredit Cleanstream® partnership operations and monitor them to ensure that the highest quality of service is sought and maintained. There would be a star rating to encourage progress towards Best Value and BPEO practices. Registered operations would receive support and training where applicable to achieve and maintain these standards.

As part of this registration the collection of accurate data would be fundamental. This would ensure the integrity of tonnages used to allocate funds according to performance and to measure waste reduction achievement against targets. Publish comprehensive performance data to ensure the sharing of Best Practice in system management.

Changing the collection system – the partnership approach.
Cleanstream® kerbside

In practice this may mean that to begin with the partnership enterprise would carry out household Cleanstream® collections alongside the Local Authority’s contractor. Introducing the new method round by round. Resources re-allocated as required. As the collected recyclate tonnages increase the mixed waste collection tonnage would decrease.

Cleanstream® Bulky Household service and special waste collections.
At the same time the partnership would collect the bulky household items with an eye to re-using as many items as possible. To recycle as many components when re-use is not possible or to dismantle the pieces into component materials for re-use or reprocessing.

Managed Civic Amenity Sites.
The partnership would manage and service civic amenity sites with the same objective. The materials would be taken to a storage area to accumulate the required tonnage for onward movement, to re-use or reprocessing.

Public education – the key to increased participation.

A public education programme would be implemented and maintained so as to maximise participation in the new system. This would be a concerted effort. From a National Waste Awareness Initiative on TV, Radio, the Internet and newspaper and billboard advertising – as planned by Waste Watch and others in the “Slim Your Bin” campaign, right down to leaflets left in kerbside boxes correcting mistakes made by householders in applying the instructions about Cleanstream® in practice.
Local campaigns would focus attention on schools and community groups to give every citizen a sense of ownership of the new system. The partnership approach has the advantage of being able to say that the only people who profit from the change are the people in the communities concerned – and future generations of people in the same communities. By applying the proximity principle we would ensure that the wealth created from waste stayed as local as possible.


This is an achievable programme, especially if it is encouraged and nurtured by applying sufficient funding in the first instance to enable all the parties to engage fully and positively in the planning and implementation process.

Cylch would draw upon member groups to act as consultants to apply expertise and help implement the service delivery. The UK contains projects that are fine examples of good practice but they are widely spread. No single area has achieved the comprehensive scheme that this document proposes and none are resourced sufficiently, all are constrained in their performance by limited resources.

It is often said that recycling cannot be achieved because markets for the materials collected do not exist. Indeed this is often cited as the main reason for Britain’s woefully inadequate performance. It is undoubtedly true that if every Local Authority in the UK were to suddenly achieve 50% resource recovery the media would be full of stories about markets being flooded with materials and prices would plummet.

However it is our contention that the time for these lame excuses is over. The waste industry has an interest in maintaining waste as a commodity and the lack of progress is their responsibility. Local authorities are powerless to influence the marketplace because all their waste activities must be transparent – they are publicly accountable and their legal makeup prevents them from being able to take risks with public funds. Any recycling activity that they have ventured into has suffered from the predation of profit-making reprocessors especially in the paper and glass markets.

It is significant that all the political exhortations and fiscal instruments ostensibly aimed at encouraging recycling activity in the 1990’s have had almost no effect whatsoever. Each intervention resulted in a drop in market price for recovered materials. In other words the reprocessors got their feedstock materials more cheaply.

The Landfill Directive has signalled fierce activity in the waste industry. Whilst acknowledging that higher recycling rates are desirable – public opinion has an effect even in these boardrooms – they are desperately keen to see to it that landfill sites are replaced either by Energy from Waste incinerators or by “Integrated Waste Management facilities.” In this way “waste” is retained as a commodity and the “gate fee” principle holds sway.

More enlightened waste management companies like Biffa and Amgen see waste as a resource with great economic potential to aid sustainable growth.

Cylch maintains that waste is a mistake to be rectified and that every individual will have to make an effort to change long-ingrained habits. The work that this involves entitles that individual to receive the benefit for making the change. This partnership approach enables this. By seeking new uses for collected materials and being patient whilst the markets adjust, investment in more reprocessing capacity takes time, we are sure that the targets can be achieved. However it is certainly true that the waste industry will have to change. In ten years time it will be unrecognisable compared with the situation today, and that is its challenge.

It is Cylch’s belief that in Wales, by focusing initially on the organic fraction (perhaps including paper in that tonnage) the notoriously negative effect of the volatile materials’ markets can be negated and the partnerships can plan with confidence.

This requires National and local political leadership and a long-term approach - we should have more faith in our ability to use the resources that become available.


The Waste Industry has not taken steps towards reducing waste for the obvious reason that it has not been in their interest to do so – waste companies make profit from waste. They have an interest in keeping things as they are – or as near as makes little difference.

We must recognise this and cut our own path by introducing the change with confidence in the knowledge that if we collect resources using Cleanstream® methods people will apply entrepreneurial flair for finding new and interesting ways of using them.

There are some key commercial players who have seen the writing on the wall for mixed waste collection and are planning to diversify into recycling. But many are relying on the fact that landfill will simply be replaced by incineration as a disposal method. They have lobbied successfully for this to be the flavour of the UK Waste Strategy so that Local Authorities will see little alternative but to seek the apparent certainty of EfW or Integrated Waste Management Facility contracts.

We must take our time in Wales and give Cleanstream® recycling a chance to prove what it can do.

Energy from Waste – friend or foe?

The DETR is mistaken to put energy recovery at the same level in the Waste Hierarchy as materials’ recovery not least because it must be aware that more stringent European legislation about EfW is being discussed in Brussels and is likely to follow very soon.

There may be a place for energy recovery but only AFTER we’ve recycled materials as many times as possible. Then it could be a part of the way we treat waste to render it inert before it is finally returned to the land – the final resting-place of all resources.

WDA role-to encourage market and business development.

We can help this process by ensuring that businesses get as much help as possible to be set up and grow so that new markets are developed and exploited. This is a role for the WDA and its economic generation budgets. The materials will then have a value that can be realised.

If market price develops then revenue items in the business plan will help to offset the collection costs – it is very likely that Cleanstream® collection could become “profitable” in the long term. Since the essence of the partnership approach is not-for-profit this would enable the surpluses generated in this way to be used to improve other community services.

We should not be surprised. The fact is that over 80% of the household and commercial waste stream is infinitely recyclable if we include the process of composting/digestion as we should. Only a very small fraction would require “waste” treatment. This fraction could be designed out in the long term – and Wales could achieve ZERO waste.




It is hoped that through this partnership approach every part of Wales will have access to a comprehensive Cleanstream® Resource Recovery Service that is user-friendly, efficient and effective. Also there will be local development in enterprises that use the materials.

Cleanstream® partnerships will enable Local Authorities to achieve waste reduction targets more quickly and at the same time espouse more sustainable resource management practices with considerable social and cultural value-added.

This is an essential element of a Sustainable Development Strategy.

With EU Objective 1 and 2 funding currently available in Wales to assist with the vital investment necessary to achieve change, and with legislation in place that will give us no option but to change, we would be foolish not to grasp this opportunity. This All Wales project fits all the criteria of the European funding programme.

Cylch and its members and associates stand ready and able to participate in the partnerships described above that will enable rapid progress towards achieving a truly Sustainable Resource Management System in Wales.


Cleanstream® - Cylch’s registered name for a process of managing the collection, storage, bulking, handling and onward transportation of separate, clean, uncontaminated secondary materials for re-use or reprocessing for further use.

Secondary materials.(Known currently as “waste” if mixed or contaminated with other materials)
Materials that have been used once and need collecting and redirecting or reprocessing before being capable of re-use.

Resource Recovery.
The action of collecting secondary resources so that they can be re-used or reprocessed before further use.

Recycling. (Colloquial)
A general term that describes various activities surrounding the collection, sorting, storage, bulking, handling and onward transportation of secondary materials with the intention of re-utilising them.

Recycling (Technical)
The actions of managing the flow of material resources in a continuous loop - to aim to maintain them in a fit state for continuous re-use.

Diversion rate.(of waste from landfill)
The percentage rate at which materials that would otherwise be landfilled are sent to other destinations. Measured as a percentage of the total of that specific waste stream that would otherwise have been, or has hitherto, been landfilled.

Recycling rate.
Percentage rate of recycling. Measured against the total for that waste stream. Materials that actually reach the reprocessing stage for further re-use.

Community sector. a.k.a.Voluntary sector. a.k.a. Third sector. a.k.a. Social Economy.
The sector that is characterised by not-for-profit organisations that raise funds by various means to carry out work to achieve various objectives in the local community. None of their activities are statutory in nature though they may add to the statutory activities of others. They are open book organisations usually managed by volunteer management committees, directors or trustees. Many are charities or have charitable objects. Typically constituted as Industrial and Provident Societies, co-operatives, unincorporated associations or companies limited by guarantee.

EfW – Energy from Waste
An incinerator designed to dispose of waste by burning it as a fuel in such a way as to maximise the amount of heat that can be used to create steam to drive turbines that produce electricity for local use or sold to the national grid under the terms that allows the National Grid to source a certain quota of its energy from renewable sources. The waste is also reduced in weight and volume to ash that can be re-used in various ways.

CHP – Combined Heat and Power.
As EfW except that the plant also distributes hot water to local heating systems in addition to selling electricity to the grid. (much more mechanically efficient 75% as against 25%)

Recycling credit.
Introduced as a provision of the Environment Protection Act of 1990. A payment made by a Waste Disposal Authority to a third party in respect of the tonnage of material removed by that third party from the controlled waste stream for re-use or recycling. A subsequent statutory instrument introduced the formula for calculating the payment as being the highest marginal cost of waste disposal applicable in the area. In other words if the authority has two disposal facilities in use, one at £20 and one at £25 per tonne, then the Recycling credit has to be the higher rate of £25.

Landfill Tax.
Introduced as a provision of the Landfill Tax in 1996. Landfill Tax of £7 per tonne for controlled waste and £2 per tonne was introduced in 1996. The £7 was raised to £10 in 1999 rising incrementally to £15 by 2004. The aim being to create market conditions that would benefit recycling and raise money for the treasury to offset NIC contributions by employers.

Landfill Tax Credit Scheme – regulated by ENTRUST.
In any tax year a landfill operator can reclaim up to 20% of his/her total landfill tax bill as a tax rebate that can be spent on pre-approved projects run by pre-approved and registered environmental bodies (EB’s). EB’s must have appropriate objects and projects must meet one of 6 criteria associated with remediation of waste-contaminated land, compensating adjacent communities for the disamenity of landfill sites or waste minimisation issues.

ENTRUST is the independent regulator – the body that registers both the EB’s and their projects and submits the funding to audit.

The landfill operator or an independent third party must prime the tax rebate with 10% of the cost of the project from their own resources. (in other words 90% of the cost of the project is the landfill tax rebate) The total cost (100%) of the donation is considered as a private donation and can be used as matched funding. The landfill operator can claim his 10% contribution against corporation tax.

The Community Waste Management Sector
The UK is blessed with a relatively large and active community waste management sector. Indeed, the community waste sector is the largest collector of separated kerbside recycling collections in the UK. Services of this type offered by the sector now extend to over three-quarters of a million households (about 3% of UK total, est. 1.8 million people), and the figure is rising steadily. Other kinds of waste and recycling services are offered by the community waste sector to at least 4.1 million households in the UK, as well as 11,500 commercial clients and over two thousand academic institutions.

At the most recent count, the sector had 1,018 full time and 1,222 part time employees with an estimated wage bill of around £21.4m. The sector engages in a wide range of activities.

separated kerbside collections
sorting and processing of waste
community and other composting
scrapstores and waste education
civic amenity site management
waste reduction, refill and reuse
furniture and appliance refurbishment
commercial waste collections
materials marketing
specialised event and similar waste
household hazardous waste
waste exchanges

The sector is also a major supplier of feedstock to the reprocessing industry. In some instances agents within the sector broker deals, and some local authority collected tonnage is also marketed. The sector has proved capable of relatively rapid expansion in response to demand for both services and tonnage.

Not for profit
The feature which characterises the CRN’s modus operendi, and which distinguish it from its commercial competitors, is its status as not-for-profit and community accountable.

Many member organisations operate in a charity framework. This feature explains why CRN enterprises are more effective in galvanising community participation, that essential ingredient for separation at source.

However this does not mean either not-for-money or amateur or inefficient. Community enterprises must provide efficient, well-planned and well-run services. Community enterprises have competed and won tenders against commercial competitors in the CCT process and are extremely efficiently run.

Value Added
Another feature, deriving from its sources of funding, is that most enterprises include other opportunities for participation especially by disadvantaged groups in society.
Thus many businesses are involved in adult training, work and volunteer placements, sheltered workshops and the like.
These value added features are intrinsic and, together with the fact that recycling is very often a catalyst for community co-operation, means that the network members are very involved in social as well as economic and environmental regeneration.

The Community Recycling Network (CRN)
The community waste management sector is represented in the UK by the CRN, with specialised provisions overseen by the Community Composting Network, the Furniture Recycling Network and others. There is a strong trend of development that mirrors the pattern of devolution in the UK towards regional networks. Cylch in Wales, London Recycling Consortium, KROWN in Kent and Devon CRN are examples.

Each works closely with the CRN. All member organisations exchange information freely to share best practice and build competence and capacity.
An industrial and provident society, the CRN provides a national umbrella to over three hundred active members. The CRN is in receipt of DETR EAF funding for the year 1999/2000.

CRN and Government Waste Strategy

The CRN has responded formally to waste strategy proposals from the Government four times. The community waste sector seeks to empower people and communities to take responsibility for the waste they produce.
The community waste sector believes that the future of waste management, if any degree of sustainability is to be achieved, lies in a genuine application of the waste hierarchy. Sustainable management of the domestic wastestream lies through the active involvement of the community and the householder, who are the originators of the waste. This empowerment and shouldering of responsibility will lead, we believe, to further meaningful environmental action within the community.

CYLCH – Wales Community Recycling Network.

Cylch is registered as a company limited by guarantee and has applied for Charity registration.

Cylch is a member of CRN and works closely with CRN and other UK umbrella groups. It is the regional network of CRN in Wales. It was inaugurated in September 1997 as a result of a conference of Welsh community recycling organisations and other interested parties in anticipation of the creation of the Welsh Assembly.

Delegates felt that the circumstances that prevailed in the waste management arena in Wales were sufficiently different from the UK as a whole to warrant the creation of a distinct organisation to represent member groups to the Welsh Assembly and the other tiers of government and agencies in Wales.

A Voluntary board of directors drawn from its full and affiliated member organisations manages Cylch. It has three full-time staff, a co-ordinator, a network administrator and an education and training officer.

Cylch is represented on the Executive committee of CRN. It is also represented on the North Wales Waste Management Technical Officers Group. One member sits on the North Wales Recycling Committee.
Two affiliated members sit on the Southeast and Southwest Wales Recycling sub-committees.
Cylch’s chair is Cardiff’s recycling officer, vice chair of LARAC.– the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee and a member of the Council of Management of Waste Watch – a UK organisation that advises the UK government on waste issues and provides a cross-sectoral forum to propagate waste and recycling issues..

Cylch’s coordinator is a member of the multi-agency steering group that commissioned work on Market Development for secondary materials in Wales. He is also an active member of the Welsh Assembly steering group that commissioned the Scoping Study on Waste Management in Wales that will inform the Welsh Waste Strategy. In addition he represents Welsh Environmental bodies on EBCO – the Environmental Bodies Council set up as part of the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme to rrpresent the views of Environmental Bodies to the regulator ENTRUST.

Cylch is the lead body in the Cardiff Waste Forum, a partnership of all those involved in re-use and recycling in Cardiff that is co-ordinating the planning of recycling activities and a media campaign to raise awareness about waste issues in the area.

Cylch has some 40 active member groups throughout Wales. They range from large kerbside operations like Wastesavers Recycling Association in Newport currently serving 20,000 of Newport’s 50,000 households and furniture and training projects like Track 2000 in Cardiff, to Scrapstores and fund-raising can collections. There is a wide variety of community recycling enterprises, each with its very own distinctive character and each having a very different way of adding social value to the re-use or recycling work it is engaged in. All, by definition, are not-for-profit but are operating at various levels of self-financing and aiming to self-sufficiency by earning revenues by providing much needed services around recycling.