Proposals for the Household Waste Recycling Sites - Frequently Asked Questions

Waste Consultation

Q.1 What is the Council doing?

We’re asking for your views on our proposals for changes to our Household Waste Recycling Sites.
We’re holding a public consultation on our proposals to:
• Charge for certain wastes at our sites, i.e. rubble, soil, plasterboard, tyres and asbestos.
• Close the part-time recycling sites at Wadhurst and Forest Row.
• Change opening hours at certain recycling sites to better suit demand.

Q.2 When is the consultation, who can take part and how?

The consultation will run for 12 weeks from midnight on 21 February until midnight on 15 May 2018.

We’d like to hear from any residents of East Sussex. Whether you’re a regular user of our recycling sites or not, we’d still like to hear your views in case there are ways we could improve the service for you in future. We also welcome any feedback from charitable or community organisations and anyone with an interest in the service.

To give us your views, please complete the online survey on the Consultation Hub. If you need the survey in another format, such as a paper copy,
call us on: 0345 60 80 194
or email us at waste@eastsussex.gov.uk.

If you need more help to take part in the survey, please let us know.

Q.3 Has the Council already made decisions on changes to the Household Waste Recycling Sites?

No decisions have yet been made on the future of any of our recycling sites. We want to understand what is most important to you and your feedback will be included in the decision-making process.

After the consultation period has ended, the views people share with us through the online survey will be analysed. They’ll then be presented to East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet later this year to help them make a final decision on what happens to the service.

Q.4 Why is the Council proposing changes to the sites?

It costs nearly £10 million a year to run our 12 sites and to recycle and dispose of all the waste that residents bring. At the Full Council meeting on 6 February 2018, the Council’s annual budget was considered and it was decided to reduce the annual waste and recycling budget by £720,000 to help make the savings the Council needs overall of which savings of £558,000 will need to be made in 2018/19.

The County Council is seeking your views on our proposals for how these savings can be achieved.

Q.5 Why does the Council need to make savings?

The grant that we get from the Government continues to reduce even though the demand for our services is rising, for example from the growing population of elderly people in the county.

The Council has already made savings of around £112 million this decade, and we’re expecting to need to save an additional £47 million by 2021 of which £17 million will need to be cut from the 2018/19 budget. At the same time we need to protect services for the most vulnerable.

It is getting more difficult to find ways to make savings. Tough decisions will have to be made by the Council’s elected Members, and we’re likely to see some reductions in services.

Q.6 How were the proposed changes chosen – what research has been done?

We carried out a review of our Household Waste Recycling Site service and looked at a range of information, including accessibility, the number of visits by residents, satisfaction surveys, the amount of waste brought, how much goes to landfill, how much is recycled, how much the sites cost to run and our legal duties. See the full service review report and service review summary report.

As a result of our review, we believe we can make service changes that will bring significant savings. We believe we can do this while providing a good service for residents with efficient sites within reasonable reach which recycle as much as possible.

Our review found that:
• Disposal of certain types of waste (soil, rubble, plasterboard, tyres and asbestos) is expensive for us compared to some other councils.
• We can still provide a reasonably accessible service with fewer Household Waste Recycling Sites
• Opening hours at the recycling sites could be altered to fit better with demand.
• The layout of Hailsham Household Waste Recycling Site could work better
• Fly-tipping is not likely to increase as a result of recycling site changes.

Q.7 How would savings be made?

Through our review of the Household Waste Recycling Sites, we’ve identified these changes that will help us meet our £720,000 savings target while running the sites efficiently:
• Charging for rubble, soil, plasterboard, tyres and asbestos would save on disposal costs.
• Reducing the number of sites by closing the two smallest and least-used ones would mean we’d be able to reduce payments to our contractor who manages our sites.
• Slightly reducing the site opening hours overall would mean we may be able to make savings on payments to our contractor.
• Improving the Hailsham site would allow us to better separate waste for recycling and recovery (for energy from waste) which will cut disposal costs.

Q.8 Doesn’t the County Council make lots of money selling recycling?

No, we don’t make any money from sales of recycling. It costs nearly £10 million a year to run our 12 sites and deal with all the waste. However only a small amount of income is made from selling materials for recycling, and prices can change a lot, meaning the income is not guaranteed. Under our contract agreement, the money from recycling and re-use shop sales goes to our contractor.

Q.9 When will we hear the final decision on the future of the sites?

Later this year, East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet will decide whether to go ahead with any of the proposed changes, taking into account feedback from the consultation. The report that they will consider will be made public one week before the meeting date. Cabinet meeting papers are published online on our committees and meetings page.

The Cabinet’s decision and draft minutes of the meeting are normally published within three working days of the Cabinet meeting.

Q.10 Why is the Council considering closing Forest Row and Wadhurst recycling sites?

These two smaller, part-time sites could close permanently if the Council’s Cabinet approves the proposal. We consulted on closing these sites in 2013. In 2014 we closed them from Monday to Thursday rather than shutting them permanently. Unfortunately we now need to make more savings.

We are required to provide residents with reasonably accessible Household Waste Recycling Sites, although there is no specified legal minimum number of sites.

We assessed the accessibility of all of our sites in terms of journey times. Currently over 98% of residents can reach a site within a 20 minute drive of their home.

In addition we looked at aspects like the number of visits by residents and traffic log data, how much waste is brought, how much goes to landfill, how much is recycled, how much they cost to run and recommended numbers of sites. See the full service review report and service review summary report.

The Forest Row and Wadhurst sites currently open three days per week, our traffic log shows that they have on average fewer visitors per hour of opening than all the other sites. They also receive less waste which means they’re relatively more expensive to run.

Our review found that compared to English councils with similar population sizes and geographical areas, East Sussex offers an above average number of recycling sites. We’re also offering an above average service in terms of the number of residents per site and households per site.

If the Household Waste Recycling Sites at Forest Row and Wadhurst closed, we’ve worked out that 98% of East Sussex residents would still be able to reach a site within a 20 minute drive of their home.

We’ve considered the impact of this proposed change on residents. We appreciate that reducing the number of sites may mean a longer journey for some residents to their next nearest site. However, we think our proposals will ensure there are enough sites over the county to be reasonably accessible for residents, as well as meeting the recommended minimum provision.

Looking at our data on the number of visits to the sites and the amount of waste brought, nearby sites, Maresfield, Crowborough and Heathfield will be able to deal with the extra visitors and waste from Forest Row and Wadhurst.

Q.11 What will the Council do with the land if a site is closed?

East Sussex County Council owns the land at the Forest Row and Wadhurst recycling sites. The Cabinet will decide what happens to the service later this year. If any changes to the service are agreed, it’s unlikely that a decision will also be made at that time regarding the land that the sites are located on.

Q.12 Would I have to pay to get into any of the sites?

Please be assured that we’re not planning to introduce charges to enter our sites at the moment – that is not a current proposal for making savings and it is not allowed by the Government at this time.

However, charging residents a small entry fee to the recycling sites in future could help to prevent further reductions to the service as we face greater budget pressures.

Through the consultation, we’d like to hear your views on the principle of a small fee to enter the recycling sites (for example, £1 per visit) to help pay for the service. But this will not be considered as part of these proposals.

Q.13 Would I have to pay to bring any waste to the Household Waste Recycling Sites?

We’re proposing to make a small charge to residents for the disposal of certain waste types at the Household Waste Recycling Sites – these are soil, rubble, plasterboard, tyres and asbestos. We would remove the existing monthly limit for these items.

We’re legally able to charge residents for these to cover the disposal cost as they are not classed as ‘household waste’, even if they are produced by residents. Over a third of councils surveyed already charge for these waste types, including our neighbours in Surrey and Hampshire, and we do not feel it is affordable for us to continue to accept it free of charge.

The County Council only has a duty to accept and pay for the disposal/recycling of ‘household waste’.

The charge would only cover the costs and no profit would be made. The proposed prices have been decided on after detailed planning exercises and investigation of other local authorities’ approaches. We think the proposed prices are reasonable compared to the alternatives of hiring a skip or hippo bag collection, paying a registered private waste contractor to collect your waste, or taking it to a permitted commercial waste facility.

We are not proposing to charge for disposal of any other waste types at present. Household wastes such as garden waste, electricals, furniture, recycling and general waste will continue to be free of charge for residents to dispose of at the sites.

Waste from businesses is not allowed at any of the recycling sites and it is the job of the Council’s contractor to make sure that it is kept out.

Q.14 Could the proposed changes cause an increase in fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is a criminal offence which can be punished by an unlimited fine and up to 5 years’ imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. We want to prevent fly-tipping, but believe that the severity of these punishments is enough to deter most people from committing offences.

There is no clear evidence that there is a link between charging at Household Waste Recycling Sites and increases in fly-tipping. Evidence shows that councils who’ve introduced charges for certain waste types, including Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex, have seen no increase in fly-tipping as a result, or just a slight increase in line with national trends. This suggests that residents are not likely to resort to fly-tipping if they cannot use a recycling site for any reason.

The cost of waste disposal is on the increase, influenced by increases in Landfill Tax. The national rise in fly-tips reported since 2012/13 could be affected by trade waste operators avoiding the cost of legitimate waste disposal. Businesses caught fly-tipping have cited one reason for doing so as lack of funds to pay legitimate waste disposal charges. The rise could also be due to a better public awareness of fly-tipping and improved reporting.

Over the past three years since opening hours at some sites were cut, the number of fly tips recorded by the local authorities in East Sussex has declined. There has also been a decreasing trend in the amount of fly-tipped waste reported.

If the Cabinet decides to make changes to the sites, we’ll monitor local fly-tip data as well as the sites, to check for signs of an impact. We’ll also continue to work with the district and borough councils, the Environment Agency and the Police to help prevent and deal with fly-tipping.

Q.15 Could recycling rates go down as result of these proposals?

We want to keep waste to a minimum and get as much useful material as possible out of the dustbin, and reused or recycled. In 2016/17, East Sussex residents together with the borough and district councils and the County Council recycled, reused or recovered energy from 95% of our household waste and only 5% went to landfill. We reused, recycled or composted 43% of household waste.

We don’t expect a decrease in recycling as a result of the proposals. We think East Sussex residents will still have reasonable access to the Household Waste Recycling Sites, and the borough and district councils offer a great kerbside recycling collection.

Information on recycling collections can be found on our rubbish and recycling page. We would encourage people to think about reducing and reusing waste as well as recycling.

Q.16 If sites close and some people have to travel further to a different recycling site, wouldn’t traffic and pollution increase?

To reduce this possibility, we encourage residents to save their waste up where possible to minimise trips to the recycling sites. Residents could also think about combining journeys to the sites with another in the same direction to save time, fuel and emissions. We appreciate this is not always possible, but we hope people will do their bit to help the environment where they can.

Your local borough or district council offers residents a kerbside collection of green waste, should you want it collected from your home rather than transporting it yourself to your nearest recycling site. Information on recycling collections can be found on our rubbish and recycling page.

Furniture in good useable condition can also be collected from homes – see information on local collection schemes on our furniture re-use and recycling page.

Other nearby sites within the network including Maresfield, Heathfield and Crowborough will be able to receive the additional visitors and waste from Forest Row and Wadhurst.

Q.17 Would closing the Forest Row site mean more traffic across Ashdown Forest?

We appreciate Ashdown Forest is a designated site important for conservation and wildlife. We’re looking at whether vehicle trips across the forest are likely to increase as a result of closure if residents take their waste to an alternative recycling site.

If Cabinet decides to progress site closure, we’ll undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening.

Q.18 When would any changes be introduced?

We aim to start introducing any changes later this year, after the Cabinet has considered the proposals and agreed which to take forward.