Answers to your questions about waste and recycling
We have received questions and freedom of information requests on the topics below.
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 gross expenditure for all waste services before any income in 2021/22 was £23.5m.
Does the council get any help for the waste service?
The council receives a £3M private finance initiative (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 220 SUEZ employees on the South Gloucestershire Contract.
How many vehicles are used by SUEZ?
There are 68 vehicles for collections and container deliveries. 6 vans, 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 private finance initiative (PFI)?
In 2021/22 total local authority collected waste was 128,013 tonnes including all waste collected at the kerbside, Sort It centres and waste from street cleaning operations. Household waste was 122,522 tonnes.
What is the weight and percentage of different waste collected?
- 35% (43,108 tonnes) of household waste was recycled
- 25% (30,246 tonnes) was composted including 8% (9,732 tonnes) of food waste sent for anaerobic digestion with the remainder being garden waste
- 32% (39,195 tonnes) was sent for energy recovery
What is the current recycling rate?
The current recycling rate for household waste is around 60% (2022).
What is the current recovery rate? (includes waste sent for energy recovery)
88% of all waste sent for recycling, composting and thermal treatment.
How much waste ends up in landfill?
In 2021/22 8.3% was sent to landfill.
Note: Any difference between the amount sent to recycling, composting, landfill and for energy recovery is due to losses during treatment such as evaporation during composting. This loss is not counted towards the recycling rate.
Meeting future recycling targets
The current contract (due to end in 2025) delivers an annual landfill diversion rate of 92%. The contract’s current recycling rate is approximately 60% based on the last 12 months’ performance. We would like to improve on these performance rates.
Our waste strategy sets out the following targets, which the service is on track to deliver and are a priority for any future contract, to:
- recycle 65% of our waste by 2025
- recycle 68% by 2027 and 70% by 2030
- achieve 0 waste to landfill by 2030
We also have a net zero carbon by 2030 target, which the waste service must contribute to and decisions around waste disposal, transportation and processing will require consideration as part of any future procurement of waste services.
We aim to achieve these targets through the ongoing work set out in our waste strategy including:
- working with residents, communities, schools and businesses to raise awareness of the benefits of reaching these targets and how their actions can have a positive impact on our environment
- keeping products and materials in use for longer
- improving our waste infrastructure to make it more efficient
How do we compare to other authorities?
In 2021/22 South Gloucestershire was ranked second out of 10 comparative authorities and 94 unitary authorities (UA). These are authorities with responsibility for collecting and disposing of household waste.
Garden waste service
How many households subscribe to the garden waste service?
Around 46,375 households are subscribed.
How much income has the council received from the garden waste service?
The income before any concessions for 2021/22 was £1.441m.
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?
How much income has the council raised from the sale of garden waste sacks?
2015/16 £5,720 (2,288 sold at £2.50)
2016/17 £4,820 (1,928 sold at £2.50)
2017/18 £5,808 (2,323 sold at £2.50)
2018/19 £5,011 (2,004 sold at £2.50)
2019/20 £4,416 (1,766 sold at £2.50)
2020/21 £763 (305 sold at £2.50)
2021/22 £1,438 (575 sold at £2.50)
2022/21 £1,482 (to 8 March 2023) (593 sold at £2.50)
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 waste 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?
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.
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 recycling centres is recycled?
Around 66% of all Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) waste was recycled and/or recovered in 2021/22.