Declarations of interest: None.
Justin Foster, Contract Management Officer
Richard Parkinson, Waste Group Manager
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The Committee was provided with an update on the provision and future of Community Recycling Centres. There were 15 recycling sites within Surrey which processed around a quarter of the waste that is generated within the county each year. The centres collected and separated around 40 materials, and officers were now considering additional materials which could be processed.
2. To assess the usage of the Community Recycling Centres counters had been positioned at all the sites - this will enable officers to analyse when the sites are most popular and will help inform any future decisions on opening hours, if a decision is required.
3. Officers were in the process of considering potential efficiencies with regards to the services including opening hours, charging to drop all materials at some sites, and charging to drop specific materials. In addition, they were considering introducing advertising at sites.
4. Members were informed that the Community Recycling Centres were popular among residents and many of the sites in Surrey had received or been nominated for awards.
5. The Committee commended officers for an excellent service (in particular, the conduct of staff at various sites), however, Members were unconvinced by the merits of charging to drop waste at Community Recycling Centres and felt there would need to be substantial consultation before any changes were made to the services at these centres. They were concerned that charging residents for using the centres would encourage fly tipping in Surrey which would cause resident satisfaction to drop. Furthermore, there was a concern that making specific sites ‘pay as you throw’ would geographically discriminate against some residents.
6. Officers responded that other local authorities who charged residents for the disposal of waste had seen a 90% reduction in the amount of rubble at sites, resulting in a £1million saving. It was also stated that reports of flytipping did not increase significantly as a result.
7. Members felt that introducing advertising at these centres would be a revenue generating opportunity, and was something that should be considered.
8. It was discussed that sometimes residents arrived at the centres in vans with household waste, but were requested to pay to drop their waste as the rule was that vans constituted trade waste. It was felt that it was important to inform residents of the terms and conditions for dropping waste and advertise the permits more effectively.
9. Members felt that it would be beneficial to re-open discussions with the Royal Borough of Kingston regarding the possibility of Surrey residents using their Recycling Centres and vice versa.
10. The Committee felt that changing the staff rotas may be a possibility to make efficiency savings, as in their experience there were more staff than required during quieter times.
11. It was felt that it was important to maximise returns from recycling as much as possible as many materials, such as textiles, were of high value. The Cabinet Member stated that currently the South East Seven spent £100 million on waste collection and recycling, though if there was more collaboration between the authorities it was felt a surplus of £300 million could be made. It was important not to be complacent and that changes would need to be made to ensure the service continued to be of a high standard.
12. Officers assured the Committee that changes made would be through the use of evidence from other authorities and information from public consultation, and that they felt it was important not to make changes which would seriously harm resident satisfaction with the service provided.
13. The Cabinet Member suggested that it would be beneficial for the Committee to consider the Surrey Waste Partnership at a future meeting.
Actions/further information required: None.
Committee next steps:
The Committee to look at the Surrey Waste Partnership at a future meeting.