Surrey Environment Partnership performance
- Collected household waste and recycling per person
- Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting (recycling rate)
- Recycling rate – breakdown by material
- Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill
This report provides a summary of the latest waste management performance for the Surrey Environment Partnership (SEP).
Performance is reported quarterly against a number of metrics, all of which look at the most recent quarterly data available, although it should be noted that some of these metrics have a longer time lag than others. Unless otherwise stated, this report looks at performance in the period up to and including Q2 2021/22 (i.e. up to and including the 3-month period Jul-Sep 2021). Note that where space is restricted, the tables in this report show only performance for the latest 8 quarters.
The headline results in Q2 are as follows:
• Waste tonnages continue to be influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst limited restrictions remained in place during the quarter there was still a large proportion of residents working from home.
• Tonnage of Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR), food waste and residual waste collected at the kerbside have reduced from the last quarter.
• Tonnage of garden waste collected at the kerbside remain at similar levels to the same period in the last 2 years. Tonnage of garden waste collected at the CRCs remained lower then pre-pandemic, but were higher than the previous year.
• DMR contamination rates was at the lowest level since pre-2018/19.
• The Districts & Boroughs recycling rate dropped this quarter, by 1.2%, although most Districts & Boroughs did see an increase in their recycling rates, those who suspended garden waste services saw significant decreases averaging 4.6% from Q1.
• The amount of material being sent for recycling overseas, outside the EU, has decreased, and this now represents 6% of total waste disposal. But recycling sent overseas within the EU has increased to 4%
• Material sent to UK energy from waste plants had a considerable decrease in the latest quarter to 30,208 from 41,422. Material going to energy from waste plants overseas experienced a significant decrease from 6,727 tonnes to 143 tonnes. This led to a major increase in tonnage being sent to landfill from 7,479 tonnes to 29,030 (22% of total waste disposed).
Tonnages are reported here in terms of the amount of material collected from the kerbside for the four main waste streams; dry mixed recycling (DMR), food waste, garden waste and residual waste. For DMR, the report also shows the amount of this material which is actually recycled, allowing for material which is contaminated (i.e. which cannot be recycled). For garden waste and residual waste only, tonnages of material collected at the Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) are also reported, as these make up a significant proportion of the overall total tonnage.
Data has been sourced from the SEP waste data system wherever possible, including for the latest quarter, or otherwise from Defra’s Waste Data Flow reports. The two data sources are mostly consistent and are close enough for comparisons to be made. Data for recent quarters may be subject to retrospective revisions, and should therefore be treated as provisional at this stage. It should be noted that some of the figures which were included in the Q1 report have been updated for this reason. At present, only the four Joint Contract authorities are using the SEP data system to prepare the Defra reports; however, the system is available for all district & borough councils to prepare these reports, should they wish to do so.
The trend is presented here in terms of the Moving Annual Average (MAA). The MAA for any given quarter is the rolling average of the most recent four quarters, including that quarter. This therefore removes any seasonality in the data, and enables us to track the trend in performance each quarter on a rolling basis.
The SEP annual programme of work sets out a number of planned interventions across the county aimed at increasing recycling and reducing residual waste. Over the long-term, we would expect to see tonnages responding to these interventions.
The work programme also set out details of a range of county-wide resident communication and engagement activities to run alongside these interventions.
A number of modifications to the work programme were made in response to the impact of COVID-19. Resources in some areas have been reallocated to the coronavirus response, and the need for social distancing measures has also had an impact on some of the planned front-line activities. Additionally, the likelihood of low resident engagement has resulted in changes to some of the planned county-wide communications during this period.
Table 1 below shows the quarterly tonnages from Q3 2019/20 to Q2 2021/22 for the main kerbside waste collection materials. These results are explored in further detail in the following sections. It should be noted that these results now incorporate a full year of tonnage data which will have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Table 1: Tonnages collected, Q3 2019/20 – Q2 2021/22
Dry mixed recycling – kerbside collections
Chart 1 below shows kerbside DMR tonnages collected and recycled from Q1 2018/19 to Q2 2021/22.
Chart 1: DMR tonnages collected and recycled, Q1 2018/19 – Q2 2021/22
Collected DMR tonnages continue to decrease compared to the previous 5 quarters, this is likely to be reflecting the continued easing of restrictions implemented in Q1 of 2020/21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this quarter has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
As shown in Table 1 and Chart 1 above, the latest quarterly trend is therefore showing a further decrease in the DMR tonnage both collected and recycled for the year to Q2 2021/22. This includes all recycling collected co-mingled and where applicable, separately collected glass and fibre.
All authorities have seen decreases in tonnages collected this quarter, with the exception of Mole Valley who saw no change.
Not all DMR collected at the kerbside goes is recycled, as some material is rejected on arrival at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) due an unacceptable level of non-recyclable material, and other material is deemed non-recyclable during the sorting processes and is rejected from the processes. The proportion of material collected as DMR which is not recycled has increased 0.2% since the previous quarter, however remains at a lower level than pre-pandemic.
The contamination rate represents the proportion of DMR material which has passed through the MRF but which has not been recycled. This takes into account material which is considered to be “non-target” but which is recycled nevertheless. “Target” materials are those materials collected by an authority for which the MRF tells the authority that material can be recycled. “Non-target” materials are materials which are not considered to be acceptable by the MRF, but which can still sometimes be recycled, for example, plastic bags or tetrapaks.
Different MRFs will have different criteria for which materials they consider to be “target” or “non-target”. It is also possible that a single MRF will apply different criteria for different authorities, depending on what has been agreed between the MRF and whoever is managing the material. This may be dependent on historical arrangements around which materials can and cannot be accepted from residents for recycling.
It should be noted that materials which are considered to be contaminants at the MRFs change over time, based on the current conditions of the material markets. Although contamination rates were already increasing prior to this time, since the beginning of 2018 more stringent criteria have been in place at the MRFs which have resulted in an increase in the overall contamination rate. This has at least partly been due to the status of the markets for the material, particularly overseas markets, which have dictated that the quality of material which could be accepted has needed to be of a higher grade. There is no evidence to suggest that any of the increase in contamination has been due to a change in resident behaviour, although this is of course possible.
As shown in Table 1 above, the overall contamination rate has decreased this quarter, with a reduction of less than half a percentage point in the trend between Q1 and Q2. For the last three quarters the contamination rate has been below 10%. The Q2 rate was 9.8% up one percentage point since Q1.
Chart 2 below shows total food waste tonnages from Q1 2018/19 to Q1 2021/22.
Chart 2: Food waste tonnages collected, Q1 2018/19 – Q1 2021/22
The long-term trend in food waste recycling, since 2016/17, has been gradually upwards.
For the sixth consecutive quarter, more than 10,000 tonnes of food waste have been collected at the kerbside. As with DMR, there was a slight decrease in tonnage in Q1 most likely related to a relaxation in COVID-19 restrictions. Tonnages remain high when compared to pre pandemic levels.
Epsom & Ewell, Runnymede and Surrey Heath have all seen increases in their collected tonnage. All other authorities have seen a decrease with Elmbridge seeing the largest decrease.
Chart 3 below shows garden waste tonnages collected, from both the kerbside and the CRCs, from Q1 2018/19 to Q2 2021/22.
Chart 3: Garden waste tonnages collected, Q1 2018/19 – Q2 2021/22
The garden waste tonnages are affected by seasonal variations, with higher tonnages during the spring and summer.
The long-term trend in garden waste recycling since 2016/17 has remained reasonably flat. Since the beginning of 2019/20 though, there has been a steady increase in tonnages collected at the kerbside, although this has been balanced out by a decrease in the amount of garden waste recycled at the CRCs.
The overall trend for garden waste is stable in line with the previous seasonal trends, although compared to the previous year there was a slight increase in overall garden waste collected in Q2. There was also reduction in the proportion of garden waste collected at the kerbside of 1,700 tonnes, whilst CRC tonnage increase by over 1,500 tonnes compared to the previous quarter. The movement towards CRC’s this quarter goes against the long-term trend. However, this was likely caused by suspension of kerbside garden waste services across several boroughs within Surrey.
Chart 4 below shows kerbside residual waste tonnages from Q1 2018/19 to Q2 2021/22.
Chart 4: Residual waste tonnages collected, Q1 2018/19 – Q2 2021/22
The long-term trend in residual waste from 2016/17 to 2019/20 has shown a gradual decrease. Tonnages collected at the kerbside have seen very little change over this period; most of the overall decrease has resulted from a reduction in the amount of residual waste at the CRCs.
This quarter we have seen a slight reduction in residual waste compared with the previous quarters and the overall trend is no longer increasing. This is in line with other materials mentioned in this report. Overall, we have collected approximately 2,000 tonnes less waste this quarter compared to Q1, with over half of that reduction being driven by the kerbside collections.
Tonnages per household have decreased for half of the authorities in Surrey, with the most noticeable decreases in Mole Valley and Runnymede. Conversely, Reigate & Banstead has seen the largest increase.
Statutory performance metrics
Under the 2015 Joint Municipal Waste Strategy, performance was reported against three of Defra’s statutory performance metrics. In order to provide continuity, and also because these particular metrics are likely to continue to be of interest to the wider public, performance against each of these metrics will continue to be included in this report each quarter.
Performance is reported here on a consistent basis across all SEP authorities, meaning that there may be some differences between the figures shown and those taken from any individual authority’s Waste Data Flow reports. As with tonnages, data for recent quarters may be subject to retrospective revisions, and should therefore be treated as provisional at this stage. Note that some of the figures which were included in the Q1 report have been updated for this reason. The trend is again presented in terms of the Moving Annual Average (MAA). This is the rolling average of the most recent four quarters including that quarter, thereby removing any underlying seasonality in the data, and enabling us to track the trend in performance each quarter.
Collected household waste and recycling per person
Table 2 and Chart 5 below show household waste and recycling per person from Q3 2019/20 to Q2 2021/22 and from Q1 2018/19 to Q2 2021/22 respectively.
Table 2: Household waste and recycling per person, Q3 2019/20 – Q2 2021/22
|Waste & recycling per person (kg)||106.7||100.4||110.8||115.8||116.3||108.7||117.9||112.0||114.7||113.7|
Chart 5: Household waste and recycling per person, Q1 2018/19 – Q2 2021/22
The long-term trend for this measure indicates that household waste and recycling per person saw very little change throughout 2018/19 and 2019/20. The increasing trend which has been observed throughout 2020/21 and in Q1 2021/22 has slowed slightly. For the year to Q2 2021/22, household waste and recycling per person stood at 113.8 kg on average per quarter, down from 114.8 kg per person in the year to Q1.
Six of the collection authorities have seen a decrease in waste and recycling per person since Q1. Epsom & Ewell saw the largest increase.
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting (recycling rate)
Table 3 and Chart 6 below show the recycling rate from Q3 2019/20 to Q2 2021/22 and from Q1 2018/19 to Q2 2021/22 respectively.
Table 3: Recycling rate, Q2 2019/20 – Q3 2021/22
Chart 6: Recycling rate, Q1 2018/19 – Q2 2021/22
The long-term trend for this measure indicates that there has been little change in the overall recycling rate since 2018/19.
The recycling rate for the year to Q2 2021/22 stood at 55.1%, this is a 0.1 percentage point improvement from the previous quarter.
Overall districts and boroughs have seen a slight reduction in their recycling rates, with Woking seeing the largest. Conversely, Runnymede have seen the largest improvement this quarter.
Surrey County Council have also seen an increase in their recycling rate trend which has improved from 52.2% to 53%. This is partly caused by the closure and restriction of materials at many CRCs in Q1 of last year which was captured in the previous rolling rate.
Please note that that the overall SEP recycling rate incorporates an estimated tonnage for waste recovered by SCC from the residual waste stream at the disposal stage.
Recycling rate – breakdown by material
The recycling rate represents the amount of waste material which is recycled as a proportion of the total amount of material which is collected. This includes garden waste, tonnages of which can be highly weather dependent; when growing conditions are good, tonnages will be high, but when conditions are not good, tonnages will be lower. These impacts will be overlaid on top of the known seasonal patterns in these tonnages, with significantly higher tonnages tending to be recycled in the spring. The inclusion of garden waste in the overall recycling rate can therefore sometimes mask any underlying trends in recycling of other materials, over which the Partnership can have a greater influence.
Chart 7 below shows the contribution to the recycling rate from each of the main kerbside materials by authority for the year to Q2 2021/22.
Chart 7: Contribution to recycling rate, by material, by authority, Q1 2020/21 – Q2 2021/22
The graph shows that DMR and other recycling contributes between 21 and 33 percentage points (pp) to an authority’s recycling rate. Of the collection authorities, the highest being Surrey Heath, Waverley and Tandridge (more than 30pp). Meanwhile the lowest are Woking, Elmbridge and Spelthorne (less than 27pp)
Food waste contributes between 7 and 12 percentage points to an authority’s recycling rate, Surrey Heath and Woking being the highest (more than 10pp). Spelthorne and Epsom & Ewell are the lowest (less than or equal to 8pp).
Garden waste contributes between 11 and 22 percentage points to an authority’s recycling rate (collection authorities only). Guildford, Elmbridge, Reigate & Banstead and Mole Valley being the highest (more than 18pp). Meanwhile garden waste contributes considerably less to the Runnymede and Spelthorne recycling rate (less than 13pp).
Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill
Table 4 and Chart 8 below show the percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill from Q2 2019/20 to Q1 2021/22 and from Q1 2018/19 to Q1 2021/22 respectively. In both cases, data have been sourced from Waste Data Flow, which does not yet hold data for the latest quarter.
Table 4: Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill, Q2 2019/20 – Q1 2021/22
|Waste to landfill||9.9%||4.5%||6.3%||4.1%||3.3%||2.4%||5.5%||21.7%||3.8%||7.9%|
Chart 8: Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill, Q1 2018/19 – Q1 2021/22
The trend and in quarter values for this measure are liable to fluctuate dependant on national capacity for alternative disposal. From Q1 2019/20 to Q1 2020/21 we saw a period of stability in the trend. In both Q2 and Q3 of 2020/21 we saw a decrease in the volume of material being sent to landfill, while Q4 saw an increase in municipal waste being sent to landfill.
In Q1, 21.7% of municipal waste was sent to landfill. In the year to Q4 2020/21, 8% of Surrey’s waste was sent to landfill, up 4.2 percentage points from the previous quarter. This was due to low availability with the incinerators and gasifiers that our waste is taken to.
Table 5 and Chart 9 below show the tonnages managed by SCC through treatment and disposal processes (i.e. recycling, energy from waste, landfill) from Q2 2019/20 to Q1 2021/22. The data is sourced from Defra’s Waste Data Flow reports, which does not yet hold data for the latest quarter, therefore data is reported for the previous quarter. Note that re-use tonnages are not included in these figures.
Table 5 also shows the amount of material that is recovered as recycling from residual waste by SCC each quarter. This could be a variety of materials, including DMR material separated from black-bag waste at the reprocessing stage, compost-like material that can be used for landfill cover, or mattresses for example. This is included again within the tonnages sent for recycling.
Table 5: Waste & recycling tonnages by method of disposal, Q2 2019/20 – Q1 2021/22
|Collected as residual – recycled||5,379||7,359||4,681||3,697||2,550||6,178||5,679||4,260|
|Treatment & Disposal - tonnages|
|Sent for recycling - within the UK||65,479||62,834||49,664||66,957||63,860||63,508||47,348||58,412|
|Sent for recycling - within the EU||4,560||4,054||4,733||1,967||2,035||3,098||2,668||5,341|
|Sent for recycling - overseas, outside the EU||4,329||2,984||6,921||5,948||8,818||9,473||10,709||7,755|
|Sent for recycling - unknown destination||368||16||85||35||0||0||0||0|
|Sent to EfW plants – within the UK||29,696||24,121||34,335||26,393||34,780||39,900||41,422||30,208|
|Sent to EfW plants – outside the UK (1)||10,691||23,947||19,871||23,955||22,508||16,966||6,727||143|
|Sent to landfill||13,270||5,952||7,911||5,483||4,639||3,923||7,479||29,030|
|Treatment & Disposal - percentages|
|Sent for recycling - within the UK||51%||51%||40%||51%||47%||46%||41%||45%|
|Sent for recycling - within the EU||4%||3%||4%||2%||1%||2%||2%||4%|
|Sent for recycling - overseas, outside the EU||3%||2%||6%||5%||6%||7%||9%||6%|
|Sent for recycling - unknown destination||0%||0%||0%||0%||0%||0%||0%||0%|
|Sent to EfW plants – within the UK||23%||19%||28%||20%||25%||29%||36%||23%|
|Sent to EfW plants – outside the UK||8%||19%||16%||18%||16%||12%||6%||0%|
|Sent to landfill||10%||5%||6%||4%||3%||3%||6%||22%|
Chart 9: Waste & recycling tonnages by method of disposal, Q1 2018/19 – Q1 2021/22
The use by SCC of different disposal routes – both methods of disposal and destination country – has fluctuated quite noticeably throughout the period since Q1 2018/19. The biggest fluctuations have been seen in the tonnages going to landfill and to EfW, both within the UK and overseas.
The amount of material being processed as recycling at UK facilities significantly increased this quarter from 47,348 to 58,412 tonnes, and this now represents 45% of the total disposal tonnage, which is a lower proportion compared to the same quarter in the previous year. The increase in Q1 is expected and has occurred previously in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Most recycling has continued to stay within the UK this quarter, with a smaller percentage being sent to facilities either within the EU or elsewhere overseas, outside the EU. However, in absolute terms the amount of recycling being sent overseas (outside the EU) has decreased this quarter, whilst recycling sent within the EU has increased. Recycling sent within the EU went from 2,668 tonnes in Q4 to 5,341 in Q1; however, this still represents 4% of total waste disposal the largest proportion since Q4 2019/20. Recycling sent outside the EU went from 10,709 tonnes in Q4 to 7,755 in Q1; this now represents 6% of total waste disposal (down 3% from Q4).
Energy from Waste (EfW) and Landfill
Disposal tonnages sent to EfW plants or landfill have fluctuated significantly since 2018/19. The amount of material being sent to landfill has decreased, although this decrease has been accompanied by an increase in the amount of material being sent to EfW plants. However, in this quarter tonnages sent to landfill has significantly increased, due to unavailability of EfW capacity.
Tonnages sent to UK EfW plants decreased in Q1 and is at its lowest point since Q1 2020/21. Precisely 30,208 tonnes were sent to UK EfW plants; this was 23% of total waste disposal, a decrease from 36% in Q4. The amount of material being sent to EfW plants outside the UK significantly decreased in Q1, to 143 tonnes. This represented 0.1% of all disposal tonnages (down 5.7% from Q3), this is the lowest it has been since Q1 2018/19 (it should be noted that Q1 2018/19 is first reported data for this report).
The amount of material sent to landfill is directly linked to EfW capacity. Where it is not possible to source this capacity within the UK, material will be sent either to EfW plants overseas or to landfill. However, the drop in sending tonnages in overseas EfW plants has led to an increased in tonnage sent to landfill. In Q1, 29,030 tonnes was sent to landfill and this represents 22% of total waste disposal, an increase from 6% in Q4, this is the highest it has been since Q1 2018/19 (it should be noted that Q1 2018/19 is first reported data for this report).