Agenda item


Purpose of the report: Scrutiny of Services and Budgets and Performance Management


To update the EPEH Board on the changes to the Community Recycling Centre service implemented as part of the council’s cost saving measures.





Richard Parkinson, Waste Operations Group Manager

Nicholas Meadows, Change Consultant


Declarations of interest:




Key point raised during the discussion:


  1. The Waste Operations Group Manager introduced the report by informing the Board of the recent changes at Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) as per the recommendations agreed by Cabinet in November 2015. The first phase of changes were introduced in April 2016, effectively reducing the operating hours/days of sites and the non-acceptance of some non-household waste materials at certain CRCs.


  1. It was noted that charges for soil, rubble and plasterboard were introduced in September 2016, Members were advised that these had been closely monitored and were detailed in the report.


  1. The Waste Operations Group Manager reported that the volume of fly-tipping collected by District & Borough Councils for disposal had fallen in the period April 2016 – January 2017. It had reduced by over 1,100 tonnes compared to the previous year saving the council £125,000 in disposal costs. This reduction has coincided with the launch of the fly-tipping prevention strategy in June 2016.


  1. A Member sought clarification on whether there has been a decrease in the amount of recycling material collected at CRCs and asked for information on recycling at each CRC. The Member also asked if there had been an increase in queuing at CRCs, where opening days had been reduced. The Officer responded by confirming that there had been a reduction in green waste volumes between April 2016 and January 2017 and consequently a reduction in processing costs. Changes in volumes of other types of recycled materials were less significant,


  1. It was noted by the Board that there had not be any particular complaints from the public about queueing as a result of the change in operating hours and queuing at CRCs. It was highlighted that since the introduction of the charging scheme, the sites had become less busy and the Officer advised that data could be drawn together to show vehicle counts at sites if necessary.


  1. The Waste Operations Group Manager advised the Board that collecting data in relation to fly-tipping was inconsistent as Borough and Districts reported fly-tipping differently and getting this data accurate was a priority going forward.


  1. Further to the above, the Officer informed the Board there was limited data regarding fly-tipping on private land as this information is not really collected by District and Borough Councils. This is an area that the new partnership and intelligence officer is seeking to understand more about, and has already been liaising with groups such as the National Trust and the Surrey Wildlife Trust.


  1. A Member expressed the view that the Board should consider a more detailed report on each individual CRC site as it would be promote a broader and better understanding of the impact of changes to residents.


  1. The Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning informed the Board that that the County Council had invested a lot of time into the creation of a fly-tipping strategy and was one of the only local authorities with a prevention strategy in place.


  1. The Cabinet Member advised that reports by news outlets indicating that there was an increase in fly-tipping in the UK did not apply to Surrey and reinstated the fact that there was a reduction with a saving of £125,000 being made by the County Council.


Victoria Young left the meeting at 11:55am


  1. A Member suggested that it would be useful to have data/figures on fly-tipping in each Borough and District. An officer had prepared this information, which was circulated to members. The Cabinet Member advised the Board that not all Borough and Districts collected data around fly-tipping in a consistent way however working collectively going forward would resolve this issue.


  1. It was highlighted to the Board that the decision to accept debit/credit card payments only was made after the original consultation in 2015, as the public expressed a strong preference to debit/credit payments only. The Officer stated that the handling of cash transactions on site presented security concerns and additional costs.


  1. A Member asked the Board to consider introducing a bottle bank scheme, whereby machines offered money in exchange for glass bottles. The Officer advised the Board that glass bottles did not necessarily have much value and a scheme like this would need Government backing and intervention.


  1. The Cabinet Member for Highways, Flooding and Transport shared the view that a bottle scheme would be suitable for festivals, whereby bottles can be collected from festival goers.


  1. It was highlighted that fly-tipping incident data was submitted via the Waste Data Flow reporting system to DEFRA by District and Boroughs. Officers indicated that although there was a recording system in place, collecting this data was difficult as recording was diverse and inconsistent throughout the county. 


  1. It was highlighted that where some District and Borough Councils had reported increases in incidents following the introduction of the charging waste scheme that construction and demolition waste related incidents did not show the same increase. The Officer therefore explained that these reported increases were not linked to the charging waste scheme.


  1. The Waste Operations Group Manager explained that trends in fly-tipping were unpredictable however the key objective was in promoting the prevention message and reinforcing the campaign to continue positive results.


  1. It was noted that a van permit scheme was in place at CRCs to prevent businesses abusing the service. Officers informed the Board that the service were looking into a number plate recognition system at CRC sites. A Member expressed the view that the scheme would be flawed for people who disposed of waste using a hired rental van.


  1. Further to the above, Officers confirmed  the Contact Centre was available as a fall back to obtain a permit for anyone who was having difficulty in accessing one online.


  1. In an effort to stop fly tipping and tackle bogus waste carriers, Officers reported that they were working with Trading Standards to use Checkatrade in conjunction with the waste carriers licence,


  1. The Board were informed that the reuse shop in Leatherhead was producing an income of £7,000 per month, and that reuse shops at the CRCs in Woking, Whitley and Earlswood would be open shortly and would generate more income.


  1. Officers identified Ebay as a great way to resell goods collected at CRCs and generate further profits. Members shared the view that Ebay was a good opportunity and would work going forward.


  1. Officers were asked whether reusable furniture collected at CRCs was ever donated to charity. It was explained that the service has supported furniture reuse projects across the county and would continue to do so. Officers explained that furniture reuse projects did not necessarily always want the furniture collected at CRCs.


  1. A Member suggested that there was an opportunity with composting green waste that was collected at sites to reduce disposal costs and informed the Board this was currently happening in Sutton. Officers explained that the County collect up to 30,000/40,000 tonnes of green waste and that composting this would require a lot of resources.


  1. It was stated by the Cabinet Member for Highways, Flooding and Transport that district and boroughs were entitled to collect residential garden and bulky waste at an annual charge.


Zully Duff-Grant left the meeting at 12:45pm




The Board noted and commented on the report.






Supporting documents: