Wealden District Council

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Ask the Leader

The Leader will be pleased to answer any question you may have about Wealden District Council's policies, or other matters involving the Council, which you think are of interest to people living, working or visiting Wealden.

To ask your question, please use our or Ask the Leader - Submit a Question Form

Specific inquiries about particular services such as planning applications, licensing or accommodation can be reported online. Please use our 'directory of tasks on online services' to find the appropriate form. You can also email info@wealden.gov.uk.

We will try to respond within ten working days of receiving your question and your question and the Leader's reply will then be posted on the website. Please provide your name, we don't need your address. If we think the question is inappropriate for publication we will contact you by email to say why.

For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on pr@wealden.gov.uk.

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The latest Ask the Leader questions and answers are shown below. To view more questions and answers, use the search above, or the 'In this Section' menu.

Glass separation and recycling


Back in the 80s, we had separate bins for clear, green and brown glass bottles. This changed to one receptacle for all glass. Now all glass goes in the recycling bin. Surely this makes it harder to recycle at the depot? Plus this extra glass fills the bin quicker thus cutting down on other recycling materials space. Cannot see how this is progress in recycling in any way.

Your thoughts please?

Colin Bickerton


Dear Mr Bickerton

Thank-you for raising this. In recent years we have seen improvements in recycling sorting technology which has allowed local authorities to collect recycling together in one bin rather than using multiple containers. The older segregated systems were less effective. The feedback we received from many residents was that they did not have sufficient time or space to recycle fully. Using a single container makes it simpler for residents to use the service. This increases participation while the improved sorting technology ensures that, when collected, the materials are separated back out for recycling.

The recycling bin provided should be sufficient in size for the vast majority of households, particularly if simple practices are followed such as squashing plastic bottles and folding flat any cardboard boxes. Larger households that produce large quantities of recycling can contact the Waste Team on 01323 443322 or email recycling@wealden.gov.uk for further advice.

The following is a link to a video clip showing the sorting process the materials we collect go through to ensure they are recycled. https://www.viridor.co.uk/recycling/mixed/


Bob Standley

Recycling drinks cartons


Why have the ratepayers not been given a clue in the past that Wealden are taking a giant leap backwards in recycling from 1st July? I could not believe it at first but it has now been confirmed to me that there is a change from 1 July that means all previously recycled drinks carton (orange juice, long life milk etc etc are now to be put in the landfill bin. I know this only because of scrutiny of the leaflet attached to last bin collected under the previous contract. I could not really believe it but it has been confirmed by the council.

What advance publicity was given to this substantial change in policy? I am not aware of any. I know, however, that many people are blissfully unaware of the change, particularly because everyone does not appear to have received the bin tie-on - my daughter in Polegate is one. She also in theory gets updated on council decisions because she opted in to that service. Why was this decision sneaked in by the back door without advance publicity? I am sure your ratepayers would have had something to say.

Roy Thomas.


Dear Mr Thomas.

Thank-you for taking an interest in this. Wealden District Council is responsible for collecting household waste and recycling in the District but East Sussex County Council is responsible for its disposal. They have recently finalised a new contract with Viridor to deal with the disposal of recyclable material from all five of the boroughs and districts in East Sussex. Viridor will process around 50,000 tonnes of East Sussex County Council’s dry mixed recyclables per annum.
The £20 million new contract, which began on 29th June 2019, will see Viridor receive material, including paper, cardboard, plastic bottles including pots, tubs and trays, aluminium cans, steel cans and glass, from the five local authorities across the County for processing into high-quality commodities and sale into recycling markets. The recyclate from Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes, Rother and Wealden Councils will be sorted at Viridor’s Crayford Materials Recycling Facility.

Viridor’s Crayford Materials Recycling Facility does not have mechanical methods available in order to separate cartons. Therefore, if cartons are delivered with the mixed recycling they will end up contaminating the paper and cardboard recycling streams. With the recycling reprocessing industry tightening its quality standards, we need to reduce the level of contamination to help produce higher quality recycling materials or we risk whole recycling loads being rejected. Cartons are now a separate material stream to paper and cardboard and needs to be treated as such. So we are asking residents not to put cartons into their mixed recycling collection.

This change only became apparent very recently and we have done our best to make residents aware both of this and other changes that come into effect with our new waste collection contract with Biffa. We have used media releases, social media, our printed bin hangers and our My Alerts weekly email newsletter which we send to residents free of charge. If you have not already signed up to MyAlerts, you can do so using the following link: http://www.wealden.gov.uk/Wealden/Council/Website_Tools/MyAlerts/LearnMoreAboutMyAlerts.aspx

Cartons have accounted for only 0.8% of the recycling collected in East Sussex. Even where recycling of cartons occurs it is often costly and inefficient. In general, cartons are comprised of six layers of material (including two types of plastic) which need to be separated. The paperboard fibres are recycled into pulp and used to make household products such as paper towels and toilet paper but usually the remaining plastic and aluminium compound residue is often incinerated at energy recovery facilities.
There is currently just one facility in the UK (Sonoco/ACE UK near Halifax) that is specifically designed to process cartons for recycling. Until such time that more efficient and economic methods of recycling cartons are available, we’re keen to preserve the quality of the recycling we’re collecting from residents.

By treating the cartons as waste that can’t be recycled, reused or composted they will be sent to the Energy from Waste facility at Newhaven and converted into electrical energy - enough to supply 25,000 homes.

East Sussex County Council is working with its contractor Veolia to consider if dedicated carton recycling containers can be installed at its network of Household Waste Recycling Sites. We are also considering if dedicated carton recycling containers can be installed at bring sites across the District. Both options depend on sourcing sustainable onward movement of material


Bob Standley

For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on pr@wealden.gov.uk.