Thursley Nature Reserve In The Surrey Hills

Annual review


Surrey Environment Partnership
April 2020 – March 2021


Foreward


View of Surrey Hills - Surrey, United Kingdom

“When the Surrey Environment Partnership’s (SEP) work programme for 2020-21 was planned in early 2020, we had no idea that the year ahead of us would be very different to anything we had experienced before. 

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted every aspect of our lives including having a significant impact on household recycling and waste volumes. Schools and other venues closed, workers were furloughed or asked to work from home, and the waste normally created and disposed of elsewhere was put into household bins.

SEP was well placed to rise to the challenges this created. Members of the officer team that works on SEP’s behalf were able to rapidly switch from the planned work programme to a pandemic response. That helped partners continue to deliver key frontline services and ensured residents were kept up to date about what to do with their waste and how they could help their collection crews. You can read more about this work in the Activity and achievements section

You’ll also see that despite the ongoing impacts of the pandemic it was eventually possible to resume work on some of the paused activities. As a result, work has been undertaken to influence the development of the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy and to improve our data and intelligence capability.

Other projects helped to improve recycling at flats and to reduce the contamination of dry mixed recycling across all properties. This is key work as when the wrong items are put into a recycling bin it can lead to a whole truckload not being recycled. The Surrey Recycles search tool and app is an excellent way for residents to check how to recycle or dispose of an item where they live. You can read more about that here.

Communications to residents remains an important element of SEP’s work programme. Residents are encouraged to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much of their waste as possible through a variety of channels. Digital media has of course become increasingly important, but evaluation of the printed recycling guides we produce each year shows they are also well used and liked by residents.

We also published the first ‘What happened to Surrey’s waste’ report covering the 2019-20 period. This provides detailed information about where Surrey’s recycling goes including the fact that 85.8% of it stayed in the UK.

Performance statistics for 2020-21 are included in this review and in keeping with most of England they showed an increase in household waste per person. This was more significant in Surrey as employment data suggests that our residents are twice as likely to be employed in the type of roles that were required to work from home. Our recycling rate decreased from 56.0% to 55.1% in 2020-21, but Surrey maintained its position as the third highest recycler, well above the England average of 42.3%. 

That is great news and demonstrates the effectiveness of SEP and the willingness of Surrey residents to participate in recycling. However, we still have a considerable way to go to achieve the Government’s current target of 65% by 2035. Towards the end of this review, you can read about the priorities and objectives for the work that is underway in the current programme to help us move towards that.

Following that you’ll find full contact details for SEP, so please do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.”

Councillor Neil Dallen, 
Chairman, Surrey Environment Partnership

Councillor Neil Dallen

Background


SEP consists of the county’s 11 district and borough councils and the county council. It was originally formed in 2009 as the Surrey Waste Partnership aiming to overcome the challenges of two-tier service delivery and manage Surrey’s waste in the most efficient, effective, economical and sustainable way possible.

In April 2019, the partnership name was changed to reflect a growing remit and desire to tackle wider environmental issues in Surrey.

Our aims


The partnership is currently working towards the aims of three strategies, which have been developed over the past 10 years.

  • Increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste produced, the amount of waste sent to landfill and the cost of waste management.
  • Reduce the amount of fly-tipping in Surrey.
  • Reduce the use of single-use plastics (SUP) through our roles as employers, service providers and as advocates across the county.

To deliver SEP’s joint strategies and achieve its challenging aims, action is required both at the individual partner level and collectively via countywide, centrally funded initiatives.

The countywide initiatives are developed and delivered on behalf of SEP by the Joint Waste Solutions (JWS) team, which also manages a joint waste collection contract on behalf of four Surrey authorities.

This report reviews the programme of countywide initiatives that were coordinated and funded by SEP from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. This activity was developed in consultation with officers and members from all partner authorities.

The report has been published some months after the completion of the programme to enable the performance statistics for the year under review to be included. These are collated and published by Defra after the end of each reporting year.

To deliver SEP’s joint strategies and achieve its challenging aims, action is required both at the individual partner level and collectively via countywide, centrally funded initiatives.

Performance summary


When the partnership was established, Surrey authorities’ collective recycling rate was ranked as the 13th highest of England’s 30 two-tier authority areas (45.7%) according to statistics published by Defra.

In the latest statistics, published in December 2021 and seen in the Figure 1 chart  below, Surrey was ranked third highest for recycling in 2020-21, with a recycling rate of 55.1%. This was a decrease from 56.0% the previous year, but the ranking remained the same.

Figure 1: Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling, or composting, 2020-21

Figure 1: Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling, or composting, 2020-21


As can be seen in Figure 2, Surrey has ranked in the top five since 2014-15, consistently ranking closely to Oxfordshire, Devon and Cambridgeshire. In 2020-21 Devon and Cambridgeshire also had a decrease in recycling rate of 1.3 and 1.5 percentage points respectively. Oxfordshire has ranked top throughout this period and after dipping in 2017-18 is recovering towards the peak recycling rate of 60.5%, achieving 59.5% in 2020-21.

Surrey has consistently performed above the England average of 42.3%, the gap increased slightly in 2020-21 with Surrey now 12.8 percentage points above the average, as the England average dropped by 1.5 percentage points. The England average has plateaued over the period, remaining between 43.0% and 43.7% during the period 2011-12 and 2019-20, before dropping below
43% for the first time since 2010-11.

A recent report by SUEZ has suggested that large cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool are suppressing the UK average. It is likely that London authorities have a similar impact, as they struggle to introduce high-performing services such as food waste, and restricting capacity.

Figure 2: Recycling rates – top 10, 2014-15 – 2020-21

Figure 2: Recycling rates – top 10, 2014-15 – 2020-21

Household waste collected


The Defra report also indicated that the amount of waste collected per person increased by 24.2kg (5.4%) per person in 2020-21 and Surrey’s ranking dropped from 11th to 17th (Figure 3). Waste tonnage increases were seen across England in 2020-21 due to the coronavirus pandemic as people were furloughed or required to work from home and schools and hospitality venues were closed.

These impacts are likely to have been particularly significant in Surrey given its demographic profile. For example, Surrey residents are twice as likely to be employed as a manager, director, or senior officer (office-based roles) than in an elementary occupation, so a higher proportion would have likely been working at home.

As seen in Figure 4 all Surrey’s district and borough councils collected more household waste per person in 2020-21 than any previous years shown. Each individual district and borough collects less kgs per person than Surrey overall as Community Recycling Centre tonnages collected by Surrey County Council are also included within reported Surrey performance.

Surrey’s district and borough councils collected more household waste per person in 2020-21 than any previous years shown.

Figure 3: Collected household waste per person, 2020-21

Figure 3: Collected household waste per person, 2020-21


Figure 4: Collected household waste per person – District and Boroughs 2015-16 – 2020-21

Figure 4: Collected household waste per person – District and Boroughs 2015-16 – 2020-21

Waste to landfill


Defra’s 2020-21 statistics also showed that Surrey is sending less waste to landfill. This decreased from 6.4% to 3.8%, with Surrey’s ranking amongst England’s two-tier authorities moving up from 17th to joint 14th.

Figure 5: Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill, 2020-21

Figure 5: Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill, 2020-21


In 2020-21 Surrey achieved its lowest percentage of municipal waste to landfill over the last 10 years reducing by 28.6 percentage points (32.4% to 3.8%), shown in Figure 6.

The ability to avoid sending waste to landfill relies significantly on capacity of other treatment facilities, such as Energy from Waste (EfW).

Figure 6: Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill – Surrey, 2010-11 – 2020-21

Figure 6: Percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill – Surrey, 2010-11 – 2020-21

Our approach for 2020-21


White Bridge over Painshill LakeThe 2020-21 programme was designed to achieve the aims of SEP’s three joint strategies, which focus on waste management, fly-tipping and the reduction of single-use plastics.

It was developed by evaluating the effectiveness of current activity, analysing recent performance data, researching best practice and carrying out research into resident behaviours, attitudes and motivators. This helped to identify the projects that were likely to have the greatest impact, add the most value and ensure a balanced programme.

It was agreed there were three areas where SEP initiatives could have an impact in 2020-21:

  1. Ourselves: making sure that each partner authority has its own house in order and that SEP governance and processes are set up in the best way to achieve our aims.
  2. Our services: improvements to services and how we work with contractors and partners.
  3. Our community: communicating and engaging with Surrey residents to influence their behaviour.

All of the activities included in the next section were designed to contribute to one or more of these three areas.

Activity and achievements


What’s underway in 2021-22?


The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continued to be felt as planning for the 2021-22 work programme got underway. These included local government budgets, which became even more squeezed than before the pandemic.

As a result, the funding for SEP was reduced for 2021-22 and the partnership’s priorities and activities needed to be carefully considered to ensure maximum value for money.

Millennial woman putting organic waste in compost binAfter an extensive review of the latest performance data and the evidence base for all previous and potential activities, it was agreed that the priorities for the 2021-22 programme should be waste reduction, food waste recycling and reducing contamination of DMR.

  • Waste reduction was selected as a priority because it sits at the top of the waste hierarchy. In other words, the best thing you can do to manage waste is to not produce it in the first place. As well as the environmental benefits, the reduction of waste should result in a reduction in collection and disposal costs.
  • There is strong evidence that previous partnership activities have successfully increased food waste recycling, but composition analyses show that there is still a large amount of this material in residual waste bins.
  • Reducing contamination of DMR was selected as a priority due to an upward trend in contamination levels and the impact on performance and costs for authorities.

Activities focused around these areas make up a significant part of the programme that is currently underway. There are also activities that will further support the priorities, help to manage the operation of the partnership, or help define the future waste strategy for Surrey.

All activities are designed to deliver against one of these seven objectives:

  • Develop and deliver initiatives that support the three priority areas of waste reduction, food waste recycling and reducing contamination of DMR.
  • Educate and encourage residents and their children to take action to reduce, reuse and recycle quality material.
  • Develop a new joint waste strategy for Surrey.
  • Support partner authorities to reduce fly-tipping across the county.
  • Establish an intelligence platform that informs decision making, helps prioritise actions to reduce carbon emissions and improves residents’ understanding of what happens to their recycling and waste.
  • Ensure partners are kept informed and the reputation of SEP continues to be protected and developed.
  • Manage the partnership effectively to ensure activities are delivered with appropriate governance and oversight, and crisis and issues are responded to rapidly.

A 336 year old clock hangs over the streets and houses of Guildford High Street

Additionally, as mentioned earlier in this review, the Government’s new Resources and Waste Strategy means that significant changes to how waste is managed are expected in the coming years. So it continues to be critical that the partnership engages, responds and seeks to influence Government policy while also preparing for the forthcoming changes.

The Goverment’s new Resources and Waste Strategy means that significant changes to how waste is managed are expected in the coming years.

Keeping in touch


If you have any questions about this report or would like to know more about SEP’s work and get regular tips and information about waste prevention, reuse and recycling.

Web surreyep.org.uk

Email comms@surreyep.org.uk

Facebook facebook.com/surreyep

Twitter twitter.com/surreyep

Instagram instagram.com/surrey_ep

YouTube youtube.com/SurreyEnvironmentPartnership


District Council logos

See also



Surrey’s target

70%

70% of Surrey’s waste should be recycled.