Sussex residents in postcode lottery on bulky waste collections fees

Sussex residents face a postcode lottery when it comes to the price they pay for councils to collect waste items like fridges, freezers and furniture.

Bulky waste collections are offered by most UK councils in addition to the normal refuse and recycling services funded by council tax.

But a BBC Local News Partnership project revealed residents face wildly varied charges and often ‘confusing’ systems, depending on where they live.

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The research calculated those in the South East paid the most on average at £16.60 for the first bulky item collected.

Bulky waste collections can save residents having to take large items to the tip

The figure contrasted sharply with the cheapest – the North East – where the first item typically cost just £5.40.

A Local Government Association spokesman said: “Some councils were able to provide free garden and bulky waste services when they were first introduced but are now having to charge to reflect the growing cost of providing a collection service.

“Councils in England face an overall funding gap of £3.2billion in 2019/20.”

All Sussex councils offer a bulky waste collection service, according to the research.

Providing a direct comparison between them all, however, proved difficult due to the variation in the ways the authorities ran their service.

Adur and Worthing councils, for example, charged £42.50 for the first three items - an average of £14.20.

But the likes of Arun District Council and Brighton & Hove City Council set different sums depending on the type of item, with the latter also levying a collection fee of £10 per visit.

A council-by-council list can be found below.

Explaining the differences between areas, Ian Williams, Professor of applied environmental science and associate Dean at the University of Southampton, said: “I don’t think there is any doubt that the system is confusing but the problem is that local authorities will have different infrastructures, service provision and levels of affluence.”

Due to the variance in schemes, the project calculated averages based on the cost of an item at first collection. Some that used a points or units system, or applied a service charge for the overall collection, were excluded.

How do Sussex councils compare? The full list:

Adur - £42.50 for the first three items - an ‘average’ of £14.20

Arun - Charge by type of item. No average supplied

Brighton and Hove - Collection charge of £10 per visit. Charge by type

Chichester - £26 for first item collected and £15.50 for each additional item up to eight items

Crawley - £26 minimum charge - varies by type/volume

Lewes - £55 for five items- an ‘average of £11’

Mid Sussex - £20 for one item, in a system categorised by ‘large and small’

Rother - £36 for three items - an ‘average’ of £12

Wealden - £55 for three items - an average of £18.30

Worthing - See Adur

Horsham - £17 for one item. Extra items £12 each

Eastbourne - £50 for three items. Extra items £10

Hastings - £21 for three items - an ‘average’ of £7