DOVE - Defenders of the Ouse Valley and Estuary


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THE SOLUTION - ADOPT A ZERO WASTE STRATEGY. On average every tonne of useful product we buy requires 10 tonnes of raw materials to produce it. Six months later only 10% of that original tonne is in use, the balance having been discarded as waste. If we want clean air and a healthy sustainable environment in the future we must radically change our ways and design out waste. Landfill and Incineration are technical solutions based on the flawed belief that assumes the environment offers us unlimited capacity to accommodate our requirements. Many countries including Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are vigorously resisting landfill and incineration as in the long run it does not provide the answer and is unacceptable from every angle that you look at it. Sussex, like the rest of the UK has a waste crisis that needs a breakthrough strategy.

The solution is Zero Waste, now adopted by over 30% of all authorities in New Zealand who have each implemented official policies to eliminate waste by 2015. In Canberra, Australia’s capital, there is a target to eliminate waste by 2010. Canberra is currently recycling 66% of all household and commercial waste. Proof of the success of their Zero Waste Strategy has reduced disposal to landfill by 42% over the last 5 years. The process is simple and could very easily be implemented in Britain as lack of an effective strategy has resulted in waste increasing by over 3% p.a.

Every community that adopts Zero Waste is saying ‘enough.’ They do not want businesses designing products and packaging to be dumped or burnt after one use at great cost to the community such as a polluting incinerator imposed on them. A Zero Waste Strategy informs industry it can no longer expect cheap disposal services for their products and forces designers at every stage of the supply line to design out waste.

A Zero Waste Strategy sets out the framework and provides a vision for long-term change. Officers within Council waste departments play a part by designing new waste contracts with incentives to minimise waste. Reduction, recovery and recycling are core components instead of landfill. (Incineration is not an option in New Zealand and is being resisted by many countries in the world) A Zero Waste Campaign kick-starts a new "Green collar" industry creating local recycling and waste reduction initiatives for business and non-profit organisations resulting in jobs in the order of between 10 and 30 to every existing job in the current waste industry. Huge economic savings, jobs and business creation, only adds to the ease at which the community as a sound strategy can adopt Zero Waste.

The huge potential to create new industries and jobs, protect the environment and conserve raw materials, improve GDP and reduce the import bill, means Zero Waste to landfill and incineration is the only solution to the waste crisis. So far Britain has been slow to respond to the evolution of the new materials industry and "green collar industry" with tax incentives and funding to enable the transition. The Government policy makers have not recognised the potential and have failed to implement the necessary legislation so our waste has increased. As a consequence we have lost out in the development of new environmental technologies. For instance, 63% of the patents in this field are held by Germany, Japan and the USA, whereas Britain only has 6%.

Every County in Britain is under threat from the dash for incineration. However an informed public will no longer accept Government assurances that incineration is safe. Recent allegations over a refusal to disclose information by Whitehall as to the real impact on health including the number of premature deaths from the existing 12 incineraters will confirm that the incineration strategy must stop forthwith. A Zero Waste Strategy is now the only acceptable, sustainable alternative to reverse the rising tide of waste. The Government just needs to grow ears! It is ludicrous that we currently pay three times for excess packaging. Firstly at the cash till, secondly when the Council tax bill arrives showing the cost of our waste collection and disposal services, and thirdly the cost when the environment suffers.

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DOVE, The Defenders of the Ouse Valley and Estuary, is run entirely by volunteers. We have carefully researched the content of this website and every effort has been made to ensure the information provided is accurate. DOVE shall not be responsible or liable in respect of any errors or ommissions.


We need to agree and adopt an Action Plan that is a strategic, countywide document with a target for Zero Waste. It will need a consultative process to identify the key issues and actions to set a definitive goal. However we do not need to reinvent the wheel. The Waste Management Strategy and vision drawn up in 1995 for Canberra is a good start for Sussex. By 2010 it envisaged that a community would have eliminated waste that: -
  • Has encouraged the producers to take responsibility for the form in which their products are sold to ensure that waste is not generated with the initial production, during use or at the end of the products life
  • Has created an environment for developing innovative solutions to avoid generating waste
  • Only buys what it needs so that efficient buying and production practices avoid waste
  • Has created cost-effective methods for recovering resources so that materials can be re-used or reprocessed into valuable products
  • Has created industries dealing in unwanted materials
  • Has extended the opportunities for resource recovery to the Canberra region
  • Takes pride in its achievements in eliminating waste and includes environmental education as a key element in achieving the vision


    East Sussex County Council is currently working up a Local Agenda 21/ Sustainability Strategy to comply with the request by the Government for all Councils to adopt an action plan by December 2000 to achieve sustainable development. For further info- This essentially, is concerned with ensuring the social, economic and environmental well-being of present and future generations.

    The County has already proposed a draft vision statement: -

    "Our vision is of a sustainable East Sussex, in which everyone – in present and future generations-will share an improving quality of life. It will be a county of distinctive, prosperous, vibrant and accessible communities, providing a high quality of life and environment for everyone. The social, economic and environmental well-being of all who live and work in the County will be a primary factor in all decision – making. The County will make a positive contribution towards achieving a sustainable global future through the careful use and protection of natural resources and through minimising the environmental impact of all activities within the County area."

    The County through the above process now needs to focus on producing a 
    "Local Agenda 21 Zero Waste Action Plan."


    (1) Education to recognise that waste is not rubbish, it is a resource

    We must adjust our own thinking and consider all waste as a finite supply of raw materials. For instance over 80% of household waste is capable of being recycled or composted at the present time (Haringey Council )

    (2) Rethink our household waste collection system

    We must ask our District Council’s as the Collection Authority to set more demanding targets for recycling and composting. For example Lewes District Council now recycles only 8.8% of household waste. Their target is 17.6% by 2004 and 50% by 2015.

    This is pitiful target bearing in mind achievements by Premier league Councils elsewhere. For example:-

    In only 12months Daventry District Council in Northamptonshire raised the average recycling rate of 5400 households from 12% to 51%. with a kerbside collection making it easy for all households to participate. By the end of the trial in June 1999 the recycling rate had risen to 60%.

    Neighbouring, Wealden District Council have raised their average recycling rate of over 5000 households from an average of only12% to an average of 53%. (excluding plastic)

    The village of Wye in Kent has now achieved a recycling rate of 60%. Bluewater, Ontario in Canada and Humboldt in California are recycling about 73% and 74% respectively.

    Tony Blair’s constituency of Sedgefield is the third worst performer in England recycling just 1.4% of its waste! Green issues were supposed to be at the heart of Government policy.

    High rates are achieved with the implementation of a green waste collection and provision of a centralised composting facility preferably close to the town where it is generated


    Last year about 16000 tonnes of waste was taken by householders to the three Civic Amenity Sites in Lewes District. The sites are the responsibility of ESCC as Waste Disposal Authority who let a County wide contract to SITA, a multinational waste conglomerate. Whilst SITA employees run the Newhaven site, the Seaford and Lewes sites are run by two independent operators. The Seaford site run by Paul Franklin currently has the best recycling rates in the District. The amount of products recycled in 1999/2000 is summarised in the following table: -




    Car Batteries

    14.71 tonnes

    17.42 tonnes

    12.74 tonnes





    Engine Oil
















    Metal and cans




















    Green Waste




    Total (tonnes)







    Total waste into site




    Total recycled (incl. hardcore)




    Recycling rate




    Total recycled (excl. hardcore)




    Recycling rate




    (3) Improve the local Household Waste Recycling Site (the Civic Amenity Site)

    Set a target of 50% in the short term

    Provided by the County Councils as Disposal Authority, the Civic Amenity Site, now renamed the Household Waste Recycling Site (HWRS) is a valuable resource and managed correctly recycling rates could very rapidly increase. There is now an urgency to maximise the operating efficiency of these sites. There should be a continual programme of modernisation to drive recycling rates up.

    Bournemouth Council have built a state of the art site recycling 80% of all waste delivered to the site. It is designed to make recycling easy and dumping trash difficult. On entering the site you first drive past all the collection points for the items to be recycled. There is plenty of help on hand to assist and also discourage contamination should anyone wish to break the rules and put unrecyclable waste in the wrong areas. Eventually you arrive at the rubbish having learnt the message that you are required to recycle as much as possible.

    We must encourage East Sussex County Council, now down to only 10 sites having lost its Crowborough site, to invest more resources and implement a series of improvements to each site. The average recycling rate for the County is only 17% .It should now look at following the example of other Councils in the Recycling Premier League to increase the recycling rate to 50% within 12 months. I.e. more waste to be recycled than landfilled in the near term.

    4) Install signage to change public perception to improve the recycling rates at the Household Waste Recycling sites (HWRS)

    a) Change road signs from Civic Amenity Site to "Household Waste Recycling Site" to help change the emphasis from "tip" or "dump" to clean and efficient recycling centres.
    b) Provide clear signage on site to assist the public with location of various collection bins to help prevent contamination.
    c) Provide a sign on the site to advertise to the public the current recycling rate being achieved on the site. This may motivate them to separate their waste next time.
    d) Promote competition between sites by publishing recycling rates of all sites in the East Sussex in press and Countywide

    5) Expand range of items to be recycled

    a) Install additional bins to collect wood to divert biodegradable matter going to landfill. Wood to be salvaged for reuse or converted into wood chippings for chipboard industry.
    b) Install bins to collect plastic
    c) Install bins to collect cardboard with steps for easy access. Cardboard recycling has improved since steps were installed in Seaford. There is currently no cardboard collection at Lewes and Newhaven and other sites and this should be addressed.
    d) Install bins to collect soil.
    e) Promote usage as a "Paint Store" and collect surplus paint to benefit schools and voluntary/community groups,etc.
    f) Promote usage as a "Scrap Store"for collection of a variety "craft" materials to benefit schools and voluntary/community groups for projects/art and craft classes e.g ceramic tiles to make decorative mosaics.
    g) Promote collection of electrical goods for export to Third World Countries(The Seaford site currently exports to India and Africa for repair and spare parts.
    h) Collect books, shoes, Wellington boots, spectacles, etc

    6) Is the site well designed to prevent queues and convenient to use ? 

    If not , then it is too small and investigation should be carried out to extend the site. Some of the sites in East Sussex are small and inefficient and constrain the recycling potential. It is necessary for the public to lobby for improvements so that the sites can cope with the growing need to expand recycling facilities. Essex County Council recently enlarged their site in Mountnessing in Brentwood District sending the recycling rate from 35% to over 60% .

    7) Is the site accessable to the public?

    The County should aim to provide a local recycling site for every town with a population of 10000. For instance a town the size of Peacehaven should be provided with a local recycling site to avoid the long travel distance to Newhaven. This would be more accessable and convenient for Peacehaven residents and reducing traffic movements, congestion and associated pollution.

    Secondly, a new site in Peacehaven would provide much needed capacity at the small and congested Newhaven site serving the residents of Newhaven, Piddinghoe and Rodmell. etc which will lead to an improved recycling rates.

    8) Recycling rates will increase if the site operator is incentivised to achieve a target

    Councils that have achieved high recycling rates recognise the need for sufficient staff at the sites in order to educate and motivate the public to achieve high recycling rates. All bags must be opened and recyclables removed. Additional staff on-site may necessary to give hands on help and advice with separation of recyclables .

    9) Site Safety and Recycling rates will increase with efficient one-way traffic flow

    The HWRS in Heathfield currently produces the highest recycling rate at 47% proving that the County can achieve a high diversion rate with potential to increase further. The site has an efficient one way traffic system leading up a ramp to a raised unloading area which gives easy public access to the collection bins. From a Health and Safety perspective the site is safer as the public are separated from the lorry traffic collecting the skips.

    In contrast the Pebsham recycling site serving the Hastings area only achieved a lowly 7% which depresses the average recycling rate for the County. This will start to improve with the start of the green waste collection and the establishment of a local centralised composting facility.

    10) Centralised Composting Facilities to be located close to Recycling Sites

    Currently the County has a composting site at an organic farm at Isfield, north of Lewes and Pebsham. In order to prevent heavy vehicle movements across the County smaller composting sites close to the towns should be built to take all green waste produced in the locality. Compost can be sold back to the public or spread on farmland. With a policy that each town in the County becomes more sustainable a local composting facility for say, Seaford and another for Newhaven would reduce a substantial amount of lorry traffic on already congested roads.


    For the Household Waste Sites the County Council and Brighton and Hove are merely asking the new Waste Contractor to maintain the level of recycling rates prevailing at the time of handover. This beggars belief. The waste planners must try harder and deliver to the public a Zero Waste Strategy which excludes incineration .


    If you want to see better recycling facilities at the Household Waste Recycling Sites then let the County know that you are concerned. Write to the :-

    Waste Contracts Manager, Transport and Environment,ESCC,
    County Hall,
    St. Anne’s Crescent,
    East Sussex
    BN7 1UE

    If you want a three stream kerbside collection with 50%+ recycling rates write to:-

    Mr I. Kedge,
    Lewes District Council, Planning and Environmental Services,
    PO Box 2707,
    Southover House,
    Southover Road,
    East Sussex
    BN7 1DW