9 December 2019 by Joshua Doherty

West Sussex to scrap recycling credits

West Sussex county council will scrap recycling credits next year because they “haven’t driven any significant improvement in recycling performance”.

This is despite more than £40 million being spent since they were introduced in 2006, according to a report, “Reduction in funding for recycling credits”, which the council’s cabinet approved last week (3 December).

West Sussex county is made up of seven district and borough councils which all receive recycling credits (picture: Shutterstock)

The recycling credits system was introduced in West Sussex in 2006 to incentivise recycling, and sees the costs from the sales of recyclate shared with collection authorities to help fund separate collections.

This has worked out at around £4 million a year, a total spend of £40 million.


However, Cllr Deborah Urquhart, cabinet member for environment, said: “We have been sharing the money on the understanding that it would be used on projects to increase the recycling rate.

“We receive monies from the sale for recyclate and regulations state it should be shared with collection authorities to help cover their costs of the separate collection of paper, card, plastic and cans.

“But where there is commingled collections, such as here in West Sussex and the disposal authority pays for the sorting of this recyclate, as we do, there is no need for that sharing mechanism as the councils save on their collection costs”.

Recycling rates

Cllr Urquhart pointed to the below graph which had shown the growth of recycling rates since the system was introduced.

However, she said the rate remained “stagnant” in the first eight years of the scheme, and the jump to 51.1% in the last two years was actually down to the recycling of street sweepings – which was paid for by the county –  and the alternate weekly collections introduced by Horsham and Adur & Worthing councils.


“The councils made significant savings on their costs by doing so”, she explained, saying the increased rate wasn’t down to recycling credits.


The proposals were approved by the council and will also see £2m placed in a reserve pot next year  to support district and borough councils who commit to implementing a New Service Model for refuse and recycling collections.

This be to a “specification and timetable agreed with the county council” and  including separate food waste collections.  Or, the councils under West Sussex can agree with the County Council another “alternative approach that will improve performance”.
and reduce costs.

The report explained that discussions regarding the future development of waste services, which are at an early informal stage, are taking place within some of the councils.

However, “none are in a position to commit to a new service model at present, partly due to a wish for more certainty and clarity around measures in the Government Strategy.”

Also, £300,000 is set aside for the West Sussex Waste Partnership to deliver joint projects such as those concerning schools waste, education, campaigns etc. and to undertake waste composition analysis.

The changes take effect from the 2019/20 financial year.

West Sussex

West Sussex county council is the authority that governs the non-metropolitan county of West Sussex. The county also contains seven district and borough councils which are: Adur district council Arun district council Chichester district council Crawley borough council Horsham district council and Mid Sussex district council.


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