Agenda item


Purpose of report:


To seek the Committee’s views on the development of the council’s waste commissioning strategy including outcomes and procurement programme.




Natalie Bramhall, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change


Katie Stewart, Executive Director – Environment, Transport and Infrastructure

Richard Parkinson, Environment Delivery Group Manager

Mark Allen, Interim Waste Programme Manager



Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The Cabinet Member stated that the existing waste Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was due to expire in September 2024 thus new service arrangements would be commissioned and a strategy developed to meet the council’s statutory duties. The commissioning strategy would consider approaches ranging from full re-procurement to division of the service into separate packages that could be procured within a shorter timescale. The council would actively engage with all district and borough councils on future models.


  1. Reduction of residual waste by encouraging residents to produce less waste and separating the collection of recycled waste and food waste would be a key element of the strategy. To help achieve this, a review of the variable elements of the funding mechanism through which the council funded the Surrey Environmental Partnership (SEP) and the districts and borough councils was underway and due for completion in September 2020. With the approval of this paper, the Executive Director would establish suitable board and governance arrangements with representatives from Surrey Chief Executives and the SEP.


  1. A Member requested that the council’s Climate Strategy be adhered to with regard to residual waste, either by managing it locally or transporting it further for treatment by a fleet of electric vehicles. The Executive Director agreed that reference in the report to climate change needed emphasising and more work needed to be undertaken to set out how carbon emissions could be monitored and reduced. The Environment Delivery Group Manager stated that adherence to ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ would generate a significant carbon emissions reductions.


  1. A Member requested that the 20 action points to deliver on climate change from the Council’s Climate Change agenda be included in the Waste Strategy. The Waste Advisor confirmed that the climate change action points and council strategy work would be considered but more work needed to be done around carbon modelling.  The Committee thought that the CRC Task Group recommendations should also feed into the Waste Strategy. The Group Manager assured the Committee that the Task Group recommendations would be taken into consideration.


  1. A Member asked that the impact on emissions of every 1% improvement in recycling be measured and tracked albeit greater emphasis should be focused on increasing waste reduction and waste reuse. The carbon reduction effect of the latter is far greater and would link to the consumption transformation challenge. The Waste Advisor confirmed that rate analysis would be carried out but it would also be important to consider the following factors to provide a carbon impact of the existing service: how waste and recycling are collected; what vehicles collect waste; the efficiency of waste collection vehicles; how far the vehicles travel; the infrastructure that waste is taken to. The cost, recycling and carbon impacts of each waste strategy option could be considered before a final decision.


  1. A Member asked why regional waste facilities might be used to treat Surrey’s residual waste and not at the EcoPark. The Executive Director stated that on completion of the EcoPark, it, and the gasifier, would take a percentage of Surrey’s waste thus excess residual waste would still need to be managed. A decision needed to be made whether additional facilities be created in Surrey to manage excess waste or whether the county engaged in a regional disposal waste facility. The Cabinet Member explained that some neighbouring counties were developing facilities with spare capacity which could provide a cost-effective alternative to building additional capacity within Surrey.


  1. A Member asked whether there had been an increase in clinical waste due to COVID-19 and, if so, how this was being managed. The Group Manager responded that very little clinical waste was produced and the service had been careful with categorising items as clinical waste. Items such as facemasks and gloves did not need to go to specialist disposal. The Group Manager assured that any clinical waste would be dealt with correctly.


  1. A Member stated that financial performance was about sustainability, operating at the lowest cost, and giving the best service to residents and that this be made more explicit in the recommendation. The Executive Director replied that financial performance had been broadened from reducing cost and cost efficiency to comprising financial sustainability and assured the Member that this would be made clearer.
  2. The Vice Chairman proposed that an education campaign could increase the proportion of residents who separate their food waste. The Cabinet Member agreed that campaigns to stimulate uptake should be developed through joint working with Surrey Environmental Partnership (SEP). There was not satisfactory uptake in food waste recycling; the green food bins were not big enough for larger families and this was something that the Cabinet Member would investigate.


  1. A Member requested that consideration be given to managing the treatment of food waste differently, by increasing composting and energy generation and recovery.


  1. Members stated that advising residents on ways of decreasing their waste production should be prioritised in the new contract. The Executive Director stated that “reduce, reuse, recycle” would be emphasised in, and the waste hierarchy was at the heart of, the commissioning strategy.  



  1. Regarding reduction of food waste, a Member asked whether the scope could be widened to all waste and whether details of infrastructure investment to focus on reuse, composting, recycling and food waste could be included in the strategy. The Executive Director stated that infrastructure for all waste would be looked at.  The Cabinet member stated that any future arrangement would be very different from the existing arrangement with SUEZ and may comprise a number of contracts for the various elements of waste.


  1. The Chairman asked officers what lessons had been learned from the last contract. The Executive Director, Cabinet Member and Group Manager agreed that greater flexibility and control to change the service in response to local needs should be built into the new contract. Based on the discussion, the Chairman asserted that a longer-term contract was not desirable.




i.              The Cabinet Member considers the development of Surrey based infrastructure to deal with residual, food waste and composting as part of the Waste Commissioning Strategy setting out reasons why or why not it should be commissioned


ii.             That the Cabinet Member provide assurances that the recommendations made by the CRC Task Group in September 2019 are inputted into the development of the new Waste Commissioning Strategy

The Select Committee will convene a Member Reference Group to offer feedback and challenge to officers on the development of the strategy


Membership: Mike Goodman, Ken Gulati, Fiona White, Jonathan Essex, Andy Macleod (Chair), John O’Reilly (ex-officio)


The Select Committee also made the following amendments to the report recommendations (text in bold)


It is recommended that the Committee:


a)    approves the development of a Waste Commissioning Strategy;


b)    approves the proposed outcomes for the Waste Commissioning Strategy, to:

1.    Meet Surrey County Council’s Waste Disposal Authority (WDA) statutory duties.

2.    Maximise the financial sustainability of waste management in Surrey. (this outcome must include cost efficiency measures)

3.    Reduce the carbon impact of waste collection and disposal. (this outcome must incorporate the Surrey Climate Change Strategy action points and also measurements on the impact on emissions of increasing reuse and waste reduction rates significantly)

4.    Maximise the integration of waste management in the county


c)    approves the programme proposed for the development of the strategy and reprocurement of the waste disposal contract; and


d)    within this programme, approves the review of the variable elements of the funding mechanism through which the county council funds the Surrey Environment Partnership and the Waste Collection Authorities.



Supporting documents: