‘Positive results’ for food waste trial held in Littlehampton

A food waste collection trial in Arun has been labelled as a success with more than 88 tonnes collected.

It has been delivered in partnership with West Sussex County Council and was hailed as the ‘first food waste recycling trial in West Sussex’.

A report ahead of the environment committee on Thursday (January 20) says the trial was ‘underpinned by the council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency’.

Food waste bins used in the Arun trial

In addition, The Environment Act – which received royal assent in November – makes councils responsible for collecting food waste separately.

Across West Sussex, food waste made up more than 42 per cent – or more than 12,000 tonnes – of residual waste. Shockingly, more than 8,200 tonnes was identified as ‘edible’ and 21 per cent could have been composted.

What is the food waste trial?

Over the course of the trial, 1,377 properties were invited to take part: the majority are within ‘Birds’ estate, in the Courtwick and Toddington Ward, which came to be known as ‘Area 1’ and the remaining 235 are HMOs and flats in Bayford Row, River Ward, known as ‘Area 2’.

The trial started in May 2021 in Area 1 but was expanded to Area 2 in September.

During the trial, households had weekly food waste and optional absorbent hygiene products (AHP) collections in addition to fortnightly recycling and three-weekly rubbish collections.

The food waste was collected by Biffa, bulked in Ford, and then transported to an anaerobic digester in Basingstoke.

How has the trial progressed?

Residents taking part in the trial were praised for their efforts in reducing food waste that usually ends up in ‘residual’ waste bins.

In Area 1, participation in the trial reached 94 per cent and 86.4 tonnes of food waste was collected.

Each household had an average of 3 kg of food waste collected per week which rose to 4.4 kg during Halloween and the October half term. This was thought to be down to pumpkin waste and children being at home.

Residual waste reduced from more than 590kg per annum at the start of the trial, to just over 365 kg at the end of six months.

In Area 2, participation rose to 86 per cent and 2.1 tonnes of food waste was collected.

Zero loads were rejected suggesting that residents were using their food waste caddies correctly.

But a ‘small amount’ of recycling and food waste was still found within general waste in Area 1.

What about recycling?

Regulations require councils to recycle 50 per cent of their waste by 2020 and 55 per cent by 2025.

Arun currently recycles 42.3 per cent of its waste but, if the food waste collection is made permanent, the council expects to meet the 2025 target (55 per cent) and the target for 2030 (60 per cent).

It is thought that extra staff may be needed as demand on existing council teams has been ‘substantial’ during the trial.

Officers concluded: “The results so far support the assumption that a three weekly residual collection frequency drives the most significant diversion of recyclable materials (dry mixed recycling, food and AHP) from the residual stream. The scheme drives behavioural change, encouraging residents to take more responsibility for segregation of their waste.”

West Sussex picture

Initial data from November 2021 shows the amount of residual waste – or waste that isn’t recycled- for district and borough councils across West Sussex.

Arun tops the list with more than 10 kg per household per week.

This is compared to 7.8 kg in Crawley; 6.2 kg in Adur; 5.9 kg in Worthing and Chichester; 5.8 kg in Horsham; and 5.5 kg in Mid Sussex.

The West Sussex Waste Partnership (WSWP) says this has ‘high carbon’ and ‘high cost’ implications.

Did you take part in the trial? Email us your thoughts and experiences at [email protected]