This is a subject that has been rumbling along for quite some time, however, it appears that there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel. The wider industry has spent a number of years looking at ways to minimise noise at the kerbside, which has concentrated on glass collections.
Why then, do we continue to collect glass separately and not co-mingled with DMR – Surely this would resolve the noise problem? Disregarding potential impacts on MRF input specs, material values and markets, WRAP research suggests that co-mingled glass with DMR tests were equally as high in terms of noise levels.
Two Information sheets have been drafted by the WISH Noise Working Group to supplement Wish Waste 16 with regard to ‘Hearing protection & health surveillance’ and ‘How to estimate Noise Exposure’. These information sheets are now with HSE’s Policy Governance Group for endorsement. The HSE is also working with vehicle manufacturers and procurers to improve design and tender specification of RCVs used for glass collection.
The latest update from the HSE is that their Science division has drafted a new standard for the measurement of noise emissions generated by vehicles collecting glass. Without wanting to dive too deeply into the technical realms, the current noise measurement standard for RCVs uses PVCu tubes and doesn’t include kerbside sort options, so it considerably underestimates the noise levels from glass, making it unrealistic for current kerbside collections. The draft standard is being reviewed with the aim to have a final release for manufacturers by June 2019.
In terms of impacts on Local Authorities, there are likely to be significant procurement implications as buyers should be requesting noise emission values, which comply with the revised standard, which will eventually be available from the WISH website.
The HSE have commitment from manufacturers to provide vehicles as quiet as technically possible. Whilst manufacturers claim that technical solutions are available, the cost implications don’t make them particularly attractive to procurers unless they are enforced!
Ultimately, specific clauses may need to be included within tender specifications to include measurement of noise emission in accordance with the draft standard. This could include a pass/fail clause with regard to all technically possible solutions. There will be a ‘noise calculator’ on the HSE website based on the current draft standard to calculate noise exposure to collection crews based on local factors (Number of tips etc).
Watch this space!!