How we manage waste

Information on this page:

We also have the waste management strategy on a separate page which details how we propose to manage waste in the city.

The waste hierarchy

large image showing the most to least favoured options for waste

(Source: waste-online)

The waste hierarchy represents a chain of priority for waste management, extending from the ideal of prevention (not producing it in the first place) to the last resort of disposal. Options to prevent or reduce waste should be considered primarily, as this stops or reduces the problem in the first place.

Recycling and composting are lower in the waste management hierarchy, as these options both require additional energy and resources to reduce waste levels.

While energy  created from waste is also a recovery option, the Government do not expect this form of recovery to be considered before opportunities for recycling and composting have been fully explored.

Disposal of waste through landfilling is the last resort, once all other options have been considered.

European, government and national targets

The European Landfill Directive requires the disposal of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill to be progressively reduced to one third of 1995 production levels by 2020.  Biodegradable waste is waste that will decompose such as food and garden waste, and paper and paperboard.

The reason biodegradable waste is targeted under this legislation is that one tonne of biodegradable waste produces between 200 and 400m3 of landfill gas, which contains a high proportion of methane. It has been estimated that landfill sites released 25% of the UK's methane emissions in 2003, which represents about 2% of UK total greenhouse gas emissions.

While methane is captured at the landfill sites serving the city there is still significant potential for emission to occur. Methane has substantially greater potential climate change impact than carbon dioxide.

In order to ensure the landfill reduction targets are met a Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme has been established that allows each Waste Disposal Authority in England to landfill a reducing quantity of biodegradable waste. The government has the power to fine those authorities that exceed their allowances at the target dates. These limits reduce year on year until 2020, with penalties of £150 for every tonne of waste sent to landfill that is over the allowance and will ultimately have to be paid by the council tax payer. Avoiding such heavy penalties is a key driver to divert waste away from landfill.

National targets

For detailed information on the Waste Strategy for England go to DEFRA's waste strategy and legislation page.

Waste disposal contract

Landfill space for refuse is running out. This was recognised some years ago and Brighton & Hove City Council began work with East Sussex County Council to develop new ways to manage our waste.  In March 2003, after a long process involving several bidders, a 25 year Integrated Waste Management Contract (worth approximately one billion pounds) was awarded to Veolia Environmental Services (formally Onyx Southdowns) by East Sussex County Council and Brighton & Hove City Council.

Veolia Environmental Services are responsible for:

  • disposing of household waste collected from Brighton & Hove and East Sussex
  • managing and operating the existing two recycling centres in Brighton & Hove and the 12 sites throughout East Sussex and the disposal/recycling of materials deposited at the sites
  • providing recycling facilities for household waste collected through Brighton & Hove's recycling collections
  • developing waste transfer stations and processing plants

Waste collection remains the responsibility of Brighton & Hove City Council and the district and borough councils within East Sussex.

Brighton & Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council oversee the contract with Veolia. You can find more information and the full contract on our Waste Disposal Contract and Schedules page.

New facilities

Various new facilities are in place in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove.

We now have:

  • a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where waste can be sorted for recycling
  • an enclosed composting plant taking green waste which produces quality compost products
  • an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) designed to process waste which is not recycled, whilst producing enough electricity to supply 25,000 homes in the area

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