Food waste collections could be rolled out across East Sussex under Government strategy

A food waste caddy used in another part of the country
A food waste caddy used in another part of the country

Separate weekly food waste collections could be rolled out across East Sussex as part of measures in a new Government strategy.

In East Sussex the county council through its PFI contract with Veolia is able to recycle food waste through the Woodlands In-Vessel Composting Facility in Whitesmith.

This processes kitchen and green garden waste and the modern facility is capable of processing up to 60,000 tonnes of compostable waste.

Food waste is recycled into soil conditioner and fertiliser which is then used by farmers and gardeners across East Sussex.

Currently in East Sussex, only Lewes District Council offers a weekly kerbside food waste collection service.

But plans to consult on a rollout of separate weekly food waste collection across England are included in the new resources and waste strategy published on Tuesday (December 18).

The Government is also due to consult on plans to make disposing of garden waste free.

Since such a move would leave a black-hole in the finances of district and borough councils the Government says it will look at the impacts and costs for local authorities.

Currently all East Sussex residents pay for this service apart from in Wealden, where the district council is due to introduce charges in July 2019.

In other areas of the county outside Lewes residents are encouraged to avoid wasting the food they buy, but what is wasted goes for energy recovery at the Newhaven Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) facility, which produces electricity.

East Sussex County Council sends just 4.8 per cent of its total waste to landfill, one of the lowest figures in the country.

A spokesman said: “Food waste is one of the more difficult waste streams to collect and deliver for processing. Many residents find it less convenient than other types of recycling.

“This often means that the amount of food placed out for recycling can be less than expected which can make collection systems uneconomical when considering the additional equipment, vehicles and cost required to collect it.

“For this reason, many local authorities don’t yet offer dedicated food waste collection and seek to instead reduce food waste via other means such as waste prevention education with its residents.

“East Sussex County Council will work with its district and borough authorities to respond to the Government’s consultation in 2019 around separate food waste collections ahead of any possible legislative changes in 2023.”

According to the resources and waste strategy: “Whilst some local authorities in England operate food waste recycling schemes, the majority of food waste ends up in residual waste. Extending separate food waste collections to more households should increase recycling and composting rates by about five percentage points over current levels, and divert waste from incineration or landfill.”

In general the strategy says it ‘seeks to redress the balance in favour of the natural world’ by maximising the value of the resources people use and minimising the waste the country creates.

A spokesman for Lewes District Council said: “Lewes District Council is the only local authority in Sussex to provide residents with a free weekly food waste collection service and participation in the scheme is increasing all the time.

“Our new user friendly waste and recycling service has transformed our recycling performance and we welcome the opportunity to contribute to this consultation.

“The government strategy certainly includes some interesting ideas and proposals, not least the focus on waste crime, an area that Lewes District Council is very active on and takes extremely seriously.”

A spokesman for Eastbourne Borough Council added: “We will consider the strategy alongside our own ambitions for the management of waste and recycling services across the town.

“To this end, Eastbourne Borough Council will move to a Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC) from July 2019.

“In addition to the local advantages of a service being run by the council for the benefit of Eastbourne residents, a LACC is a cost effective model of operation.”

A spokesman for Wealden District Council added: “We await the finer details of the Government’s proposals, and how these can be funded. We will carefully consider the impact of the proposals on Wealden District Council and our residents, and ensure our views are fed back to the Government during the consultation period.”

A spokesman for Hastings Borough Council added: “The strategy outlines aspirations, that if fully implemented, should help to reduce England’s contribution towards climate change- an aspiration that we of course fully support.

“However, the strategy does in both examples [garden and food waste] noted below, state that implementation will be subject to consultation. As such, at this early stage, we can only monitor the situation and await further clarity on how these schemes will be funded, implemented and operated.”

A Rother District Council spokesman said: “We await the finer details of the Government’s proposals, and how these can be funded. We will carefully consider the impact of the proposals on Rother District Council and our residents, and ensure our views are fed back to the Government during the consultation period.”