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Freedom of information requests about waste and recycling


Is there any legislation that requires householders to sort their household waste into different containers?

Sections 45 and 46 of the Environment Protection Act 1990 state that a local authority is entitled to make “requirements” for the collection of waste.

Can the council fine a household for using the wrong bins/containers?

Section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 does allow councils to apply fines to householders who do not meet the requirements set out for waste and recycling collections. South Gloucestershire Council does not currently fine householders for not recycling.

The contract between the council and SUEZ

Who is the councils waste provider?

SUEZ – formerly SITA UK

What type of contract is it?

A 25 year private finance initiative (PFI) contract that started in July 2000.

What is included in the contract?

SUEZ provide the councils household waste management services including kerbside collections, recycling, composting and final disposal of all household waste, the operation of four household waste recycling centres (Sort It recycling centres) and two waste transfer stations.

How much does the council pay SUEZ?

The cost of the whole waste service in 2013/14 was around £22.5M. This breaks down as waste collection £9.5M, waste disposal £8.9M, recycling £3.7M

Does the council get any help for the waste service?

The council receives a £3M PFI grant from the Government each year which reduces the cost of the service locally.

Can the council make changes to the contract with SUEZ?

The contract does allow changes to be made for new legislation, technology, changes in markets and continuous improvement of the contract. Changes can be proposed by either SUEZ or the council. The financial model and payments to the contractor are adjusted to reflect any changes.

Can the council fine SUEZ for poor performance?

Non-compliant incidents (NCI) are financial deductions that can be applied to SUEZ by the council if performance standards are not met e.g. missed bins, unplanned closure of Sort It centres.

How many people are employed by SUEZ?

There are around 240 SUEZ employees on the South Gloucestershire Contract.

How many vehicles are used by SUEZ?

There are 68 collection vehicles, six vans, two loading shovels, three fork lift trucks, 2 ‘360’ excavators and five cars.

Performance of the waste service

What is the total tonnage of waste collected and processed by SUEZ under the PFI?

  • In 2014/15 total tonnage was 126,020 including all waste collected at the kerbside, Sort It centres and waste from street cleaning operations.
  • Household waste was 120,015 tonnes.

What is the weight and percentage of different waste collected?

  • 23% (28,900 tonnes) of household waste was recycled
  • 26% (31,700 tonnes) was composted including 4% (5,020 tonnes) of food waste sent for anaerobic digestion with the remainder being garden waste
  • 30% (36,800 tonnes) was sent for energy recovery

What is the current recycling rate?

The current recycling rate for household waste is 47%.

What is the current recovery rate (includes waste sent for energy recovery)?

77% of all waste sent for recycling, composting and thermal treatment (79% of household waste).

How much waste ends up in landfill?

In 2013/14 17.3% was sent to landfill (17.8% of household waste)

Note: Any difference between the amount sent to landfill and for energy recovery is due to losses during treatment e.g. evaporation during composting. This loss is not counted towards the recycling rate.

Will the council achieve the 2020 EU targets?

The council is optimistic that the national recycling (50%) and recovery (75%) targets will be met by 2020 through continuous improvement of the waste services. The draft waste strategy 2015-2020 proposed changes that will extract more recycling from black bins by simplifying and increasing recycling collections, reducing the size of the black bin and investing in infrastructure to make the service more efficient.

Ongoing work is in progress to increase the range of items that can be recycled or recovered at the four Sort It recycling centres such as separating clean wood, separating bagged waste and improving education and communication with residents on issues such as waste reduction, reuse and encouraging higher levels of recycling.

How does the council compare to other authorities?

In 2013/14 South Gloucestershire was the fifth highest performing recycling authority out of a total of 14 comparative authorities and twenty-first out of a total of 91 unitary authorities (UA). These are authorities with responsibility for collecting and disposing of household waste.

Health and safety

How many accidents were there last year involving SUEZ vehicles?

70 accidents were reported in 2014.

How many health and safety incidents were there last year involving SUEZ employees?

Around 260 incidents were reported in 2014. SUEZ encourage near miss/hazard reporting from all of their employees for continuous improvement in health and safety standards.

Garden waste service

How many households subscribe to the garden waste service?

In the first year (April 2014 – March 2015) 40,000 households subscribed. Currently there are around 39,000 subscriptions (April 2016).

How much income has the council received from the garden waste service?

The income before any concessions is £1.279M.

Do SUEZ benefit from the income generated from the garden waste service?

No, all of the income is kept by the council.

How many garden sacks have been sold?

In 2014/15 4,575 sacks were sold. In 2015/16 4,445 sacks were sold.

How much income has the council raised from the sale of garden waste sacks?

From April 2014 to April 2016 – £18,040

How does the council use the money from the garden waste service?

The business case for charging for garden waste delivered net £1.1M of savings. These contributed to key frontline services including waste, libraries and other community services. The business case also provided for additional items to be collected from the kerbside including Tetra Pak cartons, mixed plastics and small electrical items.

How much of the green bin income is used to pay SUEZ?

All of the income from the chargeable garden waste service is contributed to  council savings targets.

How does the council pay SUEZ for the garden waste collections?

The PFI contract accounts for the waste and recycling services as a whole. This means that we do not have information on the specific costs of providing the garden waste collection.

Did the council take legal advice regarding the garden bin changes?

Yes, the council’s legal department provided advice

Is it legal to charge for garden waste collections?

Yes, under the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012. This states that local authorities can charge for collection of this type of waste.

How many unwanted green bins were collected when the garden waste charge was introduced?

Approximately 4,000

Where can I find out more about the garden waste changes?

A detailed report on the garden waste service changes was presented to Communities Committee on 9 Sept 2014.

Collection and processing of recycling

What happens to the money made from selling recycling?

The income from recyclable material depends on end market conditions and can change enormously. SUEZ secures national agreements and long term contracts with processors which helps to keep prices stable. This means that SUEZ takes on the risk from unstable markets. SUEZ benefits when prices for recyclable material are high and loses income when they are low.

Can you provide detail on the value of revenue from the sale of recyclable materials?

Due to the nature of the PFI contract we do not have detailed financial information for the costs and income from individual waste services or waste streams.

What happens to waste and recycling after it has been collected?

The council in partnership with SUEZ has developed an end destinations document to show where household waste and recycling is sent. This end destinations charter is reviewed every year.

How much waste ends up in landfill?

In 2013/14 17.3% (17.8% of household waste) as sent to landfill.

Note: Any difference between the amount sent to landfill and the 77% of waste sent for energy recovery is due to losses during treatment such as evaporation/bio-drying during composting. This loss is not currently counted towards council recycling rates.

Household waste recycling centres (Sort It recycling centres)

How many requests have been made by the police for checks to be made against the ANPR system?


How much of the waste at the HWRC (Sort It recycling centres) is recycled?

68.7% of all HWRC waste was recycled and/or recovered in 2013/14.

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