Trial of food waste collections in Mid Sussex given the go ahead

Mid Sussex District Council will trial run a food waste collection service for 3,000 homes in the spring.

Example of food waste caddy
Example of food waste caddy

During a meeting of the cabinet on Monday (November 29), members agreed that the weekly service – run in partnership with West Sussex County Council – would start in 2022, forming part of a ‘1-2-3’ system.

The system will see food waste collected weekly – as well as an opt-in collection of absorbent hygiene products such as nappies and incontinence waste.

Recycling will be continue to be collected fortnightly, along with the garden waste subscription service. And general rubbish will be collected every three weeks.

Leader Jonathan Ash-Edwards said: “We know that there is considerable appetite amongst Mid Sussex residents for the introduction of weekly food waste collections and it’s a service that we’re really keen to provide.

“Our residents already do a fantastic job of recycling their waste but if we can collect food waste as well, it will dramatically increase recycling rates and reduce general waste.

“West Sussex County Council is committed to providing the means to recycle food waste in the future.

“Our kerbside food waste collection trial will ensure we’re ready to roll out a new collection system to the rest of Mid Sussex as soon as the treatment facilities are in place.”

The council had planned to roll out the trial service early in 2020 but was scuppered by the pandemic.

A report to the cabinet said the £364,000 of funding agreed with the county council would still be available to use, with a ‘top-up’ of £56,000 being the only strain on the coffers.

A council spokesman said the waste team had chosen which areas in which to conduct the trial run and would be contacting residents soon.

It will include a mix of housing types – including flats – to ensure the whole district is represented.

The spokesman added: “The trial will help the council gather important data and customer feedback, which can be used to fine tune a new collection system.

“Establishing the most appropriate frequency of collections, the size of bins and how to effectively meet the needs of residents will all be important when it comes to planning future changes to waste and recycling services.”

The meeting was told that around 40 per cent – by weight – of the general rubbish thrown away in the district was food.

Disposal of the food waste will fall to the county council – and a report to the committee said ‘lengthy’ negotiations were being held to renegotiate its contract with Mechanical and Biological Treatment Plant operators, Biffa, to allow such disposal to take place.

In the meantime, a temporary solution will be found.

John Belsey, cabinet member for environment & service delivery said: “The food waste will be taken to a specialist facility and placed in an anaerobic digester, which uses the gas that is produced when the food breaks down to generate energy and turns the left-over material into a soil fertiliser.

“With the help of our residents, we hope that introducing kerbside food waste collections, together with other future recycling initiatives and schemes, will help us substantially increase recycling levels in Mid Sussex and certainly reach over 65 per cent by 2035.”