Waste and Recycling

Frequently asked questions

I pay Council Tax for this service - what do I get for my money?

The money that residents pay in council tax goes towards several key services that we provide. Details of these can be found in our Budget Book.

Why not just increase Council Tax to pay for the service?

The County Council froze its part of  Council Tax again in 2014/15, so you are still paying the lowest for your County Council services like social care, schools, highways and libraries than anywhere else in the south east – and at the same rate for five consecutive years.

We have managed to freeze Council Tax despite Hampshire’s grant from the Government being cut by 43% since 2010. This has been possible because we planned well in advance to manage these cuts (and those yet to come) in the most appropriate way, making millions of pounds of savings. This has also given us time to reshape the way services are delivered so that we can continue to meet the needs of residents.

Why are savings needed?

In March 2015 Hampshire County Council will have saved £250 million as a result of a savings and efficiency programme that began in 2008. A further target to save another £100 million by 2017 has now been set; therefore we are looking to review any potential savings that can be made in services across the Council.  Currently HCC spends around £10 million per year operating the HWRCs.  A full assessment of our existing HWRC network, site user surveys, focus groups, testing of cost models and research into best practice from other authorities have helped inform the six options in the consultation.   The feedback received on these has helped determine the best way to make savings.  

What is the cost of the HWRC service? How is the cost of the HWRC service worked out/ broken down?

It currently costs Hampshire County Council around £10 million per year to operate the HWRC service. Although it can vary significantly from year to year depending on a number of factors such as tonnage throughput, seasonal conditions, and material market prices, this figure can be broken down approximately as follows:

  • £1.5m – management fees

  • £7.5m – material handling, treatment and disposal costs. This fluctuates annually due to market prices and tonnage throughput

  • £1m – rent, rates, maintenance, licences etc.

Why not run the sites yourselves rather than pay a contractor?

Running the sites ourselves would prove very costly through employment of over 100 staff, management and transport.  Offering a contract to run the sites means HCC only pays a management fee which is also offset by materials incomes and onsite sales of bric-a-brac. Dedicated contractors are generally more experienced in the operation of these sites, and better able to secure new markets for materials to minimise the amount of material sent for landfill.

Why are you shutting sites?

Taking into account the consultation response Hampshire County Council have decided that no HWRCs will be closed in order to meet the 2015 savings targets.  The consultation showed that residents value their local sites, with many comments supporting nearby provision. Any consideration of cost savings should be balanced by the needs and desires of local residents and particularly their ability to easily access HWRCs. It is therefore recommended that if site closures are implemented in the longer term, these should be solely on the basis of re-provisioning the HWRC service based on future population needs and material flows within the county: for example, considering the development of a large, modern, strategic facility to replace two smaller and outdated sites.  Any future closures in this scenario would require a separate formal member decision which should be based on a full robust business case in terms of cost savings and taking into account impact on service users through further local consultation.

Where is the improved HWRC that we were promised?

The HWRC Relocation and Redevelopment Programme has long term aims and aspirations to make all HWRC sites in Hampshire split-level modern sites.  However the reality of finding suitable land, funding and securing a planning permission for these schemes is very complex.  The capital programme is affected by all of the factors outlined above and is therefore fluid but we continue to look at options to upgrade the older single level sites and resolve issues related to health and safety and traffic congestion.

Any changes will increase incidents of fly-tipping - how will you deal with this?

Hampshire County Council recognises that it is important to be proactive in managing any potential risks in this area.  Experience from other county authorities which have introduced similar measures at their HWRCs supports this. In the case of changes to opening hours and site closures, Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority reported small numbers of localised incidents of fly-tipped material immediately outside HWRC gates in the short term, however this was not sustained. In addition, the respective collection authorities did not report any negative impact on overall tonnages for fly-tipped material in their boroughs. In the case of charging for DIY waste, Devon County Council reported increased fly-tipping within the first year of implementation which has since returned to pre-introduction levels. The cost of dealing with the fly-tipping in this instance was felt to be minimal in light of the savings generated.

In order to manage this issue, Hampshire County Council will work with its partner authorities to establish a baseline for fly-tipping and undertake regular reviews to monitor any changes. Liaison with the Environment Agency may also be required. Hampshire County Council will allocate a set amount of funding to support waste collection authorities in dealing with any observed increase in fly-tipping during the first twelve months which is deemed to have been caused by changes to the HWRC policies.

What happens to the waste that is brought into the HWRC?

The waste is sold, recycled or turned into compost.  Residual material (materials which are unable to be sold or recycled) is generally sent for energy recovery - more information about the energy recovery process t:  The amount that is not suitable for any other process is currently sent to landfill but we continue to look at options to reduce this amount as far as possible.

What happens to the money made at sites through resale areas?

Sales areas are an established part of all HWRCs and are popular with the public. Reuse is an important element of managing waste and part of the waste hierarchy, and therefore all site operatives are encouraged to reuse or recycle as much waste as possible which helps reduce disposal costs. Proceeds from the sales area are kept by the site contractor, off-setting the HWRC contract fees and management costs therefore keeping HCC's costs at a minimum.

Don't you receive money back from the waste recycled?

Some HWRCs divert more than 80% of waste from landfill. However there are many costs involved in managing the materials deposited at sites, including landfill tax, site management cost, transportation, treatment and disposal of deposited materials.  

The overall income generated from materials varies depending on market conditions and tonnages received at sites.  Some material streams such as metal and textiles have a value, the majority still have a cost to recycle, recover or dispose of them. For example, Hampshire HWRCs receive over 40,000 tonnes of soil and rubble each year which costs approximately £600,000 to manage and recycle as it is expensive to process and does not command a big price in the market.

Sales areas are an established part of all sites and are popular with the public. Proceeds from the sales area are kept by the site contractor Hopkins Recycling Ltd, off-setting the HWRC contract fees and management costs therefore reducing HCC's service provision costs.

Don't you make money from green waste/compost?

Hampshire County Council’s disposal contractor, Veolia Environmental Services Ltd, has two composting sites at Little Bushy Warren near Basingstoke and Chilbolton near Stockbridge. The sales generated from the compost created, which is marketed as ProGrow, are used to offset associated transport and bagging charges and any income is retained by Veolia.

Why are there different summer and winter opening hours?

The HWRC opening hours are linked to the hours of daylight available for the safe operation of the site. None of the Hampshire HWRCs have artificial lighting and the retrofitting of lighting would be expensive, lead to disruption of the service and additional costs of installation and running them.  No sites have planning permission for artificial lighting and many sites are unlikely to achieve permission due to their location i.e. in areas designated as countryside or close to housing, as the brightness of the lighting required to avoid hazards caused by shadows etc. would be high.

Why are the sites shut at times to empty bins? Why not have set times for this outside of opening hours?

Some smaller single level sites have limited space, so they need to close temporarily for health and safety reasons while lorries exchange full containers for empty ones. It is not possible to exchange bins outside of opening hours as this would contravene site operating licences. In addition, HWRC bins tend to fill up in line with how busy sites are, so it would not be possible to book in changeovers at regular intervals. The newer HWRCs are designed to allow sites to remain open during bin changeovers by keeping the public separate from servicing vehicles and we are working to make more sites operate this way and to improve the service for customers.

I believe that some businesses are already using the service illegally - what do you do about this?

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is used to identify vehicles using the site both to record visitor numbers and monitor unusually frequent users. This helps to highlight where there may be illegal use of the HWRC sites. A disclaimer form is also available for staff to ask to be filled in where they suspect there may be abuse of the system by traders. HWRCs are not currently licensed to accept trade waste; however acceptance of waste from small local businesses is one of the options that was considered through the consultation as a means to offset costs through income generation.

Why are some of your sites less easy to use - stairs etc?

Many of the older HWRC sites are of single-level design meaning steps are needed to access the bins. The site has to close temporarily when bin servicing is carried out. The long term aspiration of HCC is to redevelop or relocate all the single level sites to split-level sites, where an upper level is provided for customers and the servicing is carried out in a lower level removing the need for steps and site closures, however finding suitable land, securing funding and gaining a suitable planning approval is not a simple process.

Why don't you allow pedestrian access to your sites?

This is discouraged as HWRCs do not have dedicated pedestrian access.  Carrying bulky items by foot while using entrances shared with vehicles can clearly cause health and safety issues, so householders do so at their own risk.

Why don’t the site staff assist with lifting and sorting more?

The HWRC staff will assist customers with their waste on request if required.  If you need help please do not hesitate to ask.

Can I get a receipt for any goods I buy at the resale areas?

Records of all cash sales are maintained and are subject to VAT. A receipt can be provided on request. Please speak to the site manager if you have any queries or concerns about a purchase.

Do you incentivise sites to recycle more?

The sites are rewarded for landfill diversion e.g. the fewer materials sent to landfill the greater their income.  In addition the sale of bric-a-brac items encourages sites to retrieve from disposal and sell items of use including furniture for reuse.

Why don't you do more to encourage reuse?

Promotion of reuse is a large part of waste prevention. This is a long term approach that all parts of society need to contribute to and will be at the forefront of our work for several years to come.  In Hampshire we focus on our own Waste Prevention plan that has been developed alongside joined up work with the County's integrated waste management partnership Project Integra. This includes several planned activities and programmes of work such as localised Love Food Hate Waste workshops (national food waste prevention campaign  www.lovefoodhatewaste.com  ), reuse of bulky waste items at local outlets and development of a reuse network database for residents to access and also activities on home composting.  

Why don't you encourage waste prevention at source - i.e., work with manufacturers/DIY shops to prevent waste?

Waste prevention is a long term approach that all parts of society need to contribute to. Encouraging waste prevention at source is most effective when lobbied nationally, which has been and will continue to be done.  The UK government has a policy goal of a "zero waste economy" from which the Courtauld Commitment was born which is a voluntary agreement aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing waste within the UK grocery sector. For example the pact looked at new technologies to try to reduce packaging which then snowballed and also impacted on food waste thus creating the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

Locally we focus on our own Waste Prevention plan that we have developed alongside our joined up work with the County's integrated waste management partnership Project Integra. This includes several planned activities and programmes of work, such as localised Love Food Hate Waste workshops, reuse of bulky waste items at local outlets and development of a reuse network database for residents to access and also activities on home composting.