Agenda item

Food Waste & Environment Act 2021 - Verbal update

Verbal update from the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport / Justin Foster, Waste Team Manager.


14.1     The Waste Team Manager provided a verbal update of the implications the Environment Act 2021 and the requirement to collect food waste. Since the last report to the Committee there have been a number of delays by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the announcement of details of the requirements of the food waste collection service.

14.2     It is understood that the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging (EPRP) reforms, which were originally planned for 2024, will be delayed by a further year to October 2025. The decision to delay the EPRP reforms comes alongside the decision to delay consistent household recycling plans (until after EPRP). It is expected that the introduction of mandated food waste collection will also be delayed, as it was previously indicated that guidance would follow EPRP reforms and is likely to be sometime after 2026.

14.3     The recycling consistency programme will now be known as ‘simpler recycling’, and this includes food waste collections. The District and Borough councils who will be responsible for collecting food waste are awaiting details on the timelines and funding. Further details are also awaited on what kerbside recycling materials will have to be collected and what bins will need to be provided. This may have an impact on ESCC as the Waste Disposal Authority (WDA), if there are new materials that have to be recycled. It is also expected that there will be some clarity on charges for garden waste as this varies from council to council.

14.4     In terms of residual ‘black bag’ or ‘black bin’ waste there may be limits to the frequency of collections required. However, food waste will be collected weekly. The Council already has the Woodlands composting facility that processes all the councils garden waste and the food waste from Lewes District Council. The team is waiting for clarity on the changes to food waste collections before going ahead with any changes to this facility and modifications to waste transfer stations needed to deal with additional food waste.

14.5     The Waste Team Manager extended an invitation to all Committee members to visit the various waste disposal facilities, to get an appreciation of the work the Team undertakes.

14.6     The Committee discussed the update and asked a number of questions. A summary of the comments made is given below.

Timescales for the introduction of food waste collections

14.7     It was clarified that the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging (EPRP) reforms have been pushed back to 2025 and the introduction food waste collections will follow some time in 2026. It is not possible to charge for food waste as it is part of residual waste, which has to be collected free of charge. Food waste collections will be weekly.

Garden waste collections

14.8     It was also clarified that the collection of garden waste is discretionary. The Waste Team Manager commented that all the District and Borough councils in East Sussex (who are the waste collection authorities) currently charge for collecting garden waste, but this may change if the Government decides to regulate charges.

Demand for food waste collections

14.9     Some Committee members commented that they thought there would be a low demand for food waste collections due to cost of living factors and the fact that people are producing less food waste. Perhaps it would be better value for money to provide education activities on food waste minimisation and ask the Government to delay the introduction of food waste collections in the current economic environment. The Chair noted that there are different types of food waste such as from excess purchased food and waste from food preparation.

14.10   The Waste Team Manager outlined that there is a lot of food waste in the residual waste that is collected at present. The Team will be doing a composition analysis exercise later this year to look at the different types of food waste in the residual waste. He also commented that the introduction of food waste collection systems can bring about behaviour change and have an impact on the amount of waste as people become more aware of the food and money they are throwing away.

Impacts of the delay in introducing food waste collections

14.11   The Committee expressed concerns about the delay and the impact this would have on waste contract procurement and carbon emissions from vehicles. The Waste Team Manager outlined that the main impact would be on those authorities who are at the end of their contracts, and on waste collection authorities who may have to change vehicles and bins. As far as ESCC is concerned, it is in a good position to deal with food waste as it has the Woodlands site, but some modifications will be needed to waste transfer stations.

Joint Waste and Recycling Committee

14.12   The Committee asked if there is a role through the Joint Waste and Recycling Committee to promote the message to reduce food waste. The Waste Team Manager commented that there are communications programmes about waste minimisation and discussions can be held with colleagues in the Joint Waste and Recycling Committee about this.

Content of future report

14.13   The Committee asked if the future update report in March 2024 could cover how communal food waste bins will be provided and maintained, and include details of the composition analysis of the black bin, residual waste.

14.14   The Committee RESOLVED to note the verbal update.