Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.
27.1 The Waste Team Manager introduced the report and outlined the key points of the report. Around two years ago the Council consulted on service changes to the Household Waste Recycling Site (HWRS) Service to achieve £720,000 of savings. This included the closure of two sites, changes to the opening hours at others, and the introduction of charging for the disposal of some items of non-domestic waste at HWRS sites. The Team have delivered over £600,000 worth of savings, which taken together with the savings made by the reduction in waste volumes taken to HWRS sites, has fully achieved the savings target.
27.2 Work has been completed on the Wadhurst and Forest Row sites which are now closed and the waste licences surrendered. The changes to site opening hours have worked well and the chargeable waste scheme is operating well and appears to be accepted by residents. The report notes that there is an under recovery from the charging scheme. This will be monitored, and action taken as necessary.
27.3 The review of the HWRS Service also included a review of the Charity Waste Scheme. As part of this work the Waste Team has spoken to all the charities who use the Scheme, most of which are local. Around two thirds of the charities have links to the Council, and some are involved in repurposing household waste (e.g. furniture services). The majority do a lot of good work which benefits residents and supports the Council’s objectives. Therefore, it was difficult to find a basis on which to suggest reductions or changes to the Charity Waste Scheme.
27.4 The Waste Team Manager outlined that there had been limited negative feedback from residents and organisations about the changes to the Service. The Waste Team are monitoring the impact of the changes made by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) on Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) as well as the changes made by neighbouring authorities such as West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and Kent County Council. The Team have successfully delivered the changes to the Service which were required in order to make the agreed level of savings.
27.5 The Committee discussed the report and made the following comments and observations about the changes to the HWRS Service.
27.6 The Committee noted that the bar chart in paragraph 2.17 of the report shows that fly-tipping is increasing. The bar chart shows the number of fly-tips, but it is also important to look at the quantity of material that is fly-tipped. The Committee commented that from their experience there appears to have been an increase in fly tipping and asked how much of the chargeable types of waste are ending up as fly-tips as there appears to have been an increase in small quantities of building/DIY waste being fly-tipped. The Committee questioned whether it would it be more cost effective to accept all types of waste as residents still bear the cost of clearing up fly-tipping.
27.7 The Waste Team Manager explained that from an examination of the data, fly-tipping had already started to rise before ESCC introduced charges for non-domestic waste. This is part of a national trend where the number of fly-tipping incidents has been increasing. The Waste Team is working with the District and Borough councils to monitor fly-tipping and the type of waste which is being fly-tipped is predominately household waste (e.g. black bags, mattresses, white goods etc.) and the not the type of waste that the Council is charging for. The Waste Team also has information on the tonnages of fly tips, which is around 517 tonnes a year across the County. This figure has been relatively constant from year to year, and the tonnage is starting to reduce slightly. The Waste Team Manager cautioned that without a deeper understanding of the type and quantity of waste being fly-tipped, it is very easy to arrive at the wrong conclusions.
27.8 The Assistant Director Operations added that when examining this issue, one has to be led by the evidence. The Council does monitor very carefully what is fly-tipped through the Joint Waste Committee. It is either domestic waste (e.g. black bin bags, mattresses, fridges etc.) or bigger loads of commercial building waste. There is no link between increases in the number of fly–tipping incidents and the types of waste being charged for. Most of the larger fly-tips of hard core or construction type materials are coming from commercial operators, and the Council is working with partners to reduce this type of fly-tipping. The Committee commented that commercial fly-tips are a problem and would welcome more work to reduce them.
27.9 The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport added that fly-tipping can attract significant penalties. If people are caught there are consequences. The Council could look at increasing communications work to highlight the penalties and the requirement to use licensed operators when people dispose of their waste. The Committee noted that the District and Borough councils undertake most of the enforcement work on fly-tipping, but unfortunately prosecutions are rare.
Waste Diversion and Environmental Costs
27.10 The Committee discussed the estimated 6,400 tonnes per year of non-domestic waste which is no longer being taken to ESCC HWRS sites for disposal. The Committee asked whether this displaced waste is being taken to other authorities’ sites where they do not charge (e.g. BHCC), or is it being mixed in with domestic black bin waste. The Committee is also concerned that ESCC residents, such as those living in the Forest Row area where the HWRS site was closed, will no longer be able to use other authorities’ facilities such as those at East Grinstead as other councils seek to restrict access to their HWRS sites to their own residents (e.g. WSCC).
27.11 The Committee commented that there is an environmental impact of people driving further to dispose of waste because there are fewer HWRS sites, or where people are driving to neighbouring authorities’ sites because they do not charge. The Committee questioned whether saving £600,000 is worth the extra environmental costs, and if having local collections may be more environmentally friendly.
27.12 The Waste Team Manager responded that he disagreed that the environmental costs outweigh the savings that have been made through the changes to the Service. The Service changes have achieved the savings as predicted. The Waste Team do carry out an analysis of the amount of waste produced by each household. On average each household produces approximately 1,000 kilogrammes of waste per year. This figure has not changed and therefore the Team do not believe that diverted chargeable non-domestic waste is entering the waste stream. In fact, the Team estimate that the amount of household waste is decreasing by 40-50 kilogrammes per household per year. This is mirrored in BHCC where domestic waste per household has reduced by 3%. In East Sussex the amount domestic waste produced is reducing by 6-7% per household. Some of the decrease is due to changes made to the HWRS service, and some is due to a downturn in the amount of waste residents generate.
Charity Waste Scheme
27.13 The Committee noted that some charities that benefit from the Charity Waste Scheme are public schools whereas state schools do not benefit. One of the Committee members who also sat on the Waste Review Board had hoped that this anomaly would be addressed in the review of the Charity Waste Scheme. The Council does not have a statutory duty to have a Charity Waste Scheme and can set its own policy on which organisations can benefit from such a Scheme. The Committee discussed the extent of the Scheme and whether on the grounds of fairness it would be possible examine the option of either having all schools in or out of the Scheme. Some Committee members commented that it may be difficult to differentiate between those charities that are considered beneficial and those that are not.
27.14 The Waste Team Manager outlined that there are four public schools who use the Scheme and that it would be difficult to single out one type of charity from another in determining who can use the Scheme. The Council does have a separate contract set up to provide a waste disposal service to maintained schools. To include all schools in the Charity Waste Scheme would have a financial impact on the waste contract and school waste is usually treated as commercial waste.
27.15 The Committee discussed whether to call for a review of the Charity Waste Scheme and the inclusion of public schools. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport responded that undertaking a review would be inviting the Council to differentiate between charities and he did not think that there would be a different outcome to the existing policy approach. There are some charities that are hugely beneficial and whether public schools should be classed as charities is a wider issue outside the control of the Council.
27.16 Councillor Godfrey Daniel proposed a Motion, seconded by Councillor Rodohan, that “the Committee RESOLVE to note the report and call for a detailed review of the charity waste policy which would include the withdrawal of public schools from Charity Waste Scheme”. The Motion was put to the vote but was not carried (4 votes for and 7 votes against).
27.17 The Committee RESOLVED to note the report and progress made on the savings following the review of the HWRS Service.