Weekly food collection and more recycling for Sutton as part of proposed new service

Sutton households could have a new weekly food waste collection along with almost double the amount of recycling capacity if plans to outsource services are approved by four boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership.


The partnership, made up of Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton, is going through a tendering process to outsource the refuse, recycling, street cleaning and winter gritting service under one contractor across four boroughs.  A separate tendering process for another contractor is being conducted for the maintenance of parks, cemeteries and ground maintenance in Merton and Sutton.

The South London Waste Partnership Joint Waste Committee (JWC) has agreed that:

  • Veolia should be the recommended preferred bidder for a contract to provide a waste collection, street cleaning and winter gritting service across the four boroughs, and 
  • The Landscape Group should be the recommended preferred bidder for a contract to provide maintenance of parks, cemeteries and ground maintenance services to Sutton and Merton.

The decision to approve the preferred bidders now rests with the committees of all the councils which meet over the next two months. In Sutton’s case the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meets on 27 June.

Liberal Democrat Sutton Council had agreed to the shared service approach with its neighbours due to the unprecedented government cuts to the council’s budget, along with the opportunities to increase recycling rates. Currently Sutton has to save £31m from its annual budget because of government cuts. The council’s annual budget is £148.4m.

If the proposed new services go ahead, Sutton Council will save £10.3m over the first eight years while recycling will increase from 37% to an estimated 42% within the first year.

If approved by all boroughs, the procurement process will enter a fine tuning stage.  Subject to this the new services are likely to include under the Veolia contract for refuse, recycling, street cleaning and winter gritting:

  • A new weekly food waste collection
    • Food waste currently accounts for 40% of residential waste in Sutton
  • Increasing the amount of monthly recycling capacity per household from 480 litres to 810 litres. This includes:
  • the current recycling bin collected fortnightly which would be only for paper and card
  • a new food waste bin collected weekly
  • a new box collected fortnightly for plastics, tin and glass bottles
  • Residual waste (brown bin) will be collected fortnightly rather than weekly – however currently around 40% of waste put in brown bins is food waste so the additional recycling capacity will mean that residents will be able to significantly reduce the amount of waste in their brown bins
  • Garden waste collections for paying residents will be extended from nine months a year to all-year-round.
  • Street cleaning operations will be extended to 10pm from the current 6am start.
  • The new service for refuse, recycling, street cleaning and gritting will be introduced in Sutton in April 2017 if approved.

Under the second contract for the maintenance of parks, cemeteries and ground maintenance the Landscape Group would be responsible for the maintenance of parks, cemeteries and ground maintenance while Sutton Council will continue to manage parks and open spaces.  It would also mean that:

  • Local Committees would continue to make decisions about replacing or adding equipment to parks, such as play and gym equipment and benches.
  • Friends of Parks would continue to be involved, and will also monitor the standard of maintenance of our parks, alongside the Council.
  • The new service, if approved, for the maintenance of parks, grounds maintenance, cemeteries, verges and trees would begin in February 2017, if approved.

Cllr Jill Whitehead, Liberal Democrat chair of Sutton council’s Environment and Neighbourhood Committee, said: “We are trying our best to manage the unprecedented government cuts to our budgets, while also maintaining excellent services for our residents. The partnership with our neighbouring boroughs is an innovative approach to enable us to do that through weekly food collections and more opportunities to recycle.

“The new services will mean Sutton saves over £10m by 2025, and substantially increases its recycling levels. We will do this by almost doubling the amount of recycling available to households, including the new weekly food waste collection. Increasing recycling will help us meet the One Planet Sutton targets to reduce carbon emissions.

“Following endorsement from the JWC, the decision is subject to approval by our Environment and Neighbourhood Committee later this month, along with the committees from the partner councils.”

Veolia describes itself as a UK leader in environmental solutions and The Landscape Group as a multi-award-winning horticultural, landscaping and grounds maintenance specialist.

The contracts would be for an initial eight years. If, after eight years, the contracts are performing well, there are options to extend them by mutual consent for two further periods each of eight years.

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