Council Answers Refuse and Recycling Audit Report

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Leader, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Your council

Senior Councillors have given a robust response to a refuse and recycling report by the Audit Commission. Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio holder say that despite a one star `Fair` rating, Epping Forest District Council and its residents now have one of the best recycling rates in Essex. We don`t tick the Audit Commission boxes but we do deliver services our residents want. said Councillor Mrs Collins.

Councillor Collins continued: The Audit Commission looks at Council performance against a set of rigid criteria. It is a blunt instrument and I think they have struggled with our particular local circumstances.

She continued: New refuse and recycling arrangements were introduced three years ago. With hindsight, the timing could not have been worse as the system of alternate weekly collection proved extremely unpopular. It was a remarkably hot summer and many residents complained that the alternate weekly collection resulted in bad smells, maggots and flies.

Separately, our contractor was experiencing financial problems and struggling to remain in business. When he finally went into administration we acted extremely quickly and decisively. We put a temporary contractor in place without any interruption to services while adapting our service with a return to summer weekly collections.

Extensive consultation confirmed the public support for the changes we had made. As we went from interim arrangements to a new contractor, we honoured our commitments to maintain weekly summer collections.

Councillor Mrs Diana Collins and Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin with SITA refuse collectors

Pictured above – Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder join SITA refuse collectors Jamie Lee and Dave Harwood on a refuse collection round in Epping

There was an inevitable increase in costs as we drafted in a temporary contractor but our new long term contract is much more cost effective. The Audit Commission says that excluding a return to the original Alternate Weekly collection arrangements undermined value for money. We argue that we had a duty to listen to our residents who clearly did not want to return to the original system.

Our ability to exceed very high recycling targets in the new contract without passing extra costs to residents in Council Tax also seemed to cause the Audit Commission difficulty. They thought our rejection of Alternate Weekly Collection compromised value for money but in other discussions have also asked why we did not increase Council Tax by more. We have a strong financial position thanks to prudent management. It gives us the scope to invest in services based on the choices made by people locally rather than fitting a `one-size-fits-all` national model.

The Audit Commission also doubts the Council`s capacity for further improvements to refuse and recycling, saying the prospects are `uncertain`. However, Councillor Mary Sartin points to the major improvements already implemented over the past three years, high recycling rates and plans to consult residents about the next steps.

She said: We are about to consult everyone on how we move forward again. Every household in the District will receive a survey questionnaire during September, delivered as an insert within the Forester magazine. It will explain how the Council aims to increase recycling even further and cut the overall amount of waste going to landfill.

Mrs Sartin continued: Residents have three main options to consider. Each has its unique merits but the main improvement offered by all three will be to transfer kitchen food waste from landfill disposal to recycling while collecting it every week, summer and winter. We need as much public feedback as possible. Whatever option we adopt, it will only work properly if it has widespread public support. This is your chance to tell us what you want. Your comments will help us choose the final scheme and it is therefore vital that we get as many people to respond as possible.

Whichever option we choose, this will be another huge step forward. It really doesn`t fit in with the Audit Commission doubts about improvements. I believe our actions speak for themselves.

As well as The Forester survey which should be returned using the Freepost address, the survey will be available online on the homepage of the Epping Forest District Council website at Closing date for responses is 24 October 2008.

Epping Forest Residents Provide Fruit Trees in Malawi

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Grafted trees

Everyone who recycles aluminium drinks cans in the Epping Forest District is helping grow fruit trees in Malawi. Latest figures show that in the past year residents have contributed to growing 81 grafted orange trees for families in rural Malawi and the more cans that are recycled, the more fruit trees will be grown.

The tree nurseries are run by local garden clubs and schools, which have been growing guava and pawpaw as well as the local lemon rootstock used for grafting the improved fruit species  – a new introduction to the area.

The first grafted trees have now been produced by trainees learning their new horticultural skills at the project and are being cared for both at Ripple Africa`s base on the shores of Lake Malawi, where they will be subject to trials for disease and drought resistance and at the garden club nurseries.

As well as providing a greenhouse, training and materials, Alupro is making sure that a fruit tree is grown to maturity for every tonne of aluminium recycled in the UK. This is to encourage everyone to recycle, by demonstrating how saving energy through recycling is linked to environmental challenges in Africa. Recycling aluminium is 20 times more efficient than making it from the raw material bauxite.

Grafted tree displayed in a recycled drinks canCouncillor Mary Sartin Portfolio Holder for Environment said: We are delighted that after just one year, recyclers in Epping Forest have been responsible for giving 81 fruit trees to the project, so I would urge everyone to make sure that they always recycle their drinks cans to help build a sustainable future in Malawi. Recyclers across the UK will give around 48,000 fruit trees this year. Many of the trees will be grown by individual families (improving their nutrition) and in community orchards which will provide opportunities for trade. The project also seeks to identify budding entrepreneurs who will be interested in developing small businesses to dry and juice fruits and create jobs. In these cases it is hoped that the business experience offered by the project will help ensure that the right decisions are made, small loans are available and successful initiatives established.

On top of all this is the environmental gain of growing so many valuable trees in an area suffering severe deforestation. Ripple is also growing fast-growing trees at the nurseries so they can be coppiced for firewood, which is one of the major reasons trees are felled.

New Refuse and Recycling Contract Starts

Written on . Posted in Older people, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your council, Your home

Residents will see changes to the way Epping Forest District Council`s new refuse contractor SITA UK collects domestic recycling. SITA UK takes over the five-year £22 million contract with effect from 5 November and will use compartmentalised lorries to collect dry and garden recycling at the same time. The different lorries will mean fewer `vehicle passes` – the number of times the contractor needs to send lorries down each road. The system will be more efficient and help improve the carbon footprint by reducing the total number of miles travelled by recycling collection lorries each year.

The new contract starts as Epping Forest District Council releases the latest impressive recycling figures. During the three months April to June, residents recycled 43 per cent of domestic household waste. Unaudited figures for July to September suggest that figure has increased to 45 per cent. Prior to the introduction of wheelie bins and seasonal alternate weekly collections, recycling levels were around 20 per cent.

SITA will take direct responsibility for collection of domestic waste from wheelie bins and street cleansing as well as recycling except for glass collection which will be sub-contracted via SITA to Lucy and Martin.

The refuse and recycling contract was put out to tender earlier this year. It followed extensive consultation with residents that confirmed the Council decision to make alternate weekly collection seasonal with weekly residual waste collections during the summer months.  SITA was assessed against a range of other bidders. It is a well-established company that provides refuse and recycling collection services for many other councils.

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council is keen to reassure residents who might think their recycling was being mixed up in the new lorries. She said: Residents should continue to separate their dry and garden recycling into the different types of sack, safe in the knowledge that the tremendous levels of recycling being achieved in Epping Forest will continue. It may look as though all the sacks are going into one lorry but they are kept separate within it. Having to send fewer lorries to each address will also be good for the environment.

Councillor Sartin continued: Excellent progress has been made by the refuse service over the last year. We can all be very proud of the terrific levels of recycling now being achieved. Part of the challenge SITA faces is to make further improvements such as the extension of recycling facilities to people living in flats. Our residents have been fantastic in adapting to the new recycling systems. People clearly want to recycle more and I would like to thank everyone for all the extra effort they have made. Epping Forest is a green and beautiful district. By reducing our reliance on landfill rubbish disposal we aim to keep it that way.

New Beverage Carton Recycling Scheme

Written on . Posted in Community, Older people, Recycling and waste, Residents, Uncategorized, Young people, Your community, Your home

Epping Forest District Council, in conjunction with Tetra Pak Ltd and the carton industry body ACE UK (Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment), is launching a new beverage carton recycling scheme. Special wheeled bins are now sited at five recycling sites to give residents the opportunity to recycle even more of their household rubbish.

Each year, UK beverage carton manufacturers produce approximately 55,000 tonnes of paper-based cartons for milk, juice, sauces and other liquid foods / drinks. This equates to around 2.3kg of cartons per household which could be recycled instead of thrown in the rubbish bin. In response, Epping Forest District Council is working with the carton industry to establish carton collection points at key Recycling Centres for residents to take their empty cartons to be recycled.

    Even though cartons still cannot be recycled via the doorstep collection service in the Epping Forest District, the new project means that used cartons can now be recycled through special collection bins at:

  • The Old Station Car Park, Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5BZ
  • Cottis Lane Car Park, Epping, CM16 5DQ
  • Sainsbury`s Car Park, Old Station Road, Loughton, IG10 4PE
  • Short Stay Car Park, High St, Ongar, CM5 9AR
  • Tesco Car Park, Sewardstone Road, Waltham Abbey, END 1EQ

Once collected they will be taken away to be baled and transported to a recycling mill. They can be recycled into a number of different products, ranging from plasterboard liner to high-strength paper bags and envelopes.

Cllr Mary Sartin launches the new beverage carton recycling scheme

Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin Portfolio Holder for Environmental Protection, said: Our residents have always responded well to the different recycling schemes we have implemented but we have still got some tough targets to meet, both as a district and as a nation. We are delighted that Tetra Pak and the carton industry are supporting us to help increase the number of cartons recycled in our county and if the initial six-month trial is successful, we`d like to see the project rolled out further.

Richard Hands Environment Manager at Tetra Pak Ltd and Chairman of ACE UK added: Whilst cartons have been successfully recycled in large volumes for many years throughout Europe, the UK has a long way to go. It`s therefore fantastic news that Epping Forest District Council is taking a lead by adding cartons to the list of materials collected for recycling and we very much hope that the initiative is successful. We and our industry partners are committed to increasing the level of carton recycling in the UK with the aim of reaching a national network of carton collection by the end of 2008. Our work with Epping Forest District Council takes us and households in the area one step closer to achieving that.

Since April last year, the UK carton industry has made £1.5million available to help local authorities interested in starting up carton collection schemes in their area. There are already approximately 100 district areas collecting cartons, which will result in a national network of coverage during the next 18 months. The carton industry continues to work with new paper mills to trial carton recycling to ensure the industry can cater for this increase in carton recycling, as more areas come on board.

For more information on beverage carton recycling, visit

Bobbingworth Tip – the Problem and the Solution

Written on . Posted in Business, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Work begins on Monday 19 March 2007 on the long awaited improvements to Bobbingworth Tip.

For more than ten years in the 1960`s and 70`s the former gravel pit near Ongar was being used as a landfill for domestic rubbish. Although landfill seemed like a cheap and easy solution to rubbish disposal at that time, tips like Bobbingworth have left a legacy of pollution. Now the Council is investing £1.35 million into turning the site into a public asset.

The works now getting under way to clean up the site will create huge underground barriers and drains to help control the flow of water leeching through the refuse. By the end of the project only clean, healthy treated water will flow from the site. The aims of the project is to control the volume of leachate leaving the tip and going into the Thames Water Utilities Ltd sewage works as Epping Forest District Council can be in breach of licence and incur penalties. Native trees and hedgerows will be preserved and enhanced with new planting and landscaping to provide a park for people to walk in and enjoy.

Tips like Bobbingworth pollute the local environment by giving off gases and contributing significantly to global warming. After so many years the gas emissions at Bobbingworth are now falling, but problems remain of pollution escaping as water seeps through the tip and affects land and watercourses around it. The smell of  gas may have faded but the water pollution is clear to see.

Over the course of the building works, a large number of lorries will bring materials to the site for the construction of the various structures and topsoil to cap the site properly. Care is being taken to keep the disturbance to residents caused by these lorries to a minimum.

    To reduce disturbance:

  • Opening times will be restricted:          Monday to Friday 8:00 – 18:00
              Saturday 8:00 – 13:00Note: there will be no operations on Sundays and Public Holidays
  • Low noise plant and equipment with effective silencers that are properly maintained
  • Work on Saturdays (when possible will be conducted away from the site boundaries)
  • On Friday afternoons soil deliveries will stop at 16:00 rather than 16:30
  • A maximum of 90 lorries on any one-day
  • No soil deliveries on Saturdays

The lorries entering and leaving the site will be restricted to a 30mph speed limit. Random checks will be carried out by Veolia (an environmental service) to make sure that the lorries delivering materials to the site are driving properly, and are driving at the right delivery times. Local residents are encouraged to report to Veolia any problems caused by the lorries. On site wheel-cleaning facilities will prevent lorries transferring mud onto clean roads.

    Contact details for Veolia are:

  • Telephone number for Veolia 01277 723 552
  • Or email the Veolia environmental manager

Residents Say Keep Wheelie Bins

Written on . Posted in Recycling and waste, Residents, Your community, Your home

Residents Tell Council to Keep Wheelie Bins, but Look Again at Alternate Weekly Collection

Most residents like the new wheelie bins but only 35 per cent want to keep alternate weekly collection. Almost 60 per cent of residents would prefer a return to some form of weekly collection for residual domestic waste. These and other findings are revealed in results of a major consultation exercise conducted by Epping Forest District Council late last year. Results from the consultation will be used to help councillors produce a new specification for the domestic waste collection, recycling and street cleaning service later this year.

Councillor Stephen Metcalfe, portfolio holder responsible for waste collection, invited residents to comment on the service in an open letter delivered to every household during December. It was also printed in local newspapers and available online from the council website. Almost 1,000 residents responded before 1 January. Small numbers of responses continue to arrive at the Council each day.

Councillor Metcalfe was delighted by the response to his letter. He said: I have been overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of responses we have received and would like to thank everyone who responded. The reaction has been fantastic. Many people seemed really pleased to have the opportunity to make an input.

He continued: The vast majority of comments are very constructive and many go into considerable detail. Residents have given us a great deal of food for thought. Their feedback will be invaluable as we work towards letting a new refuse contract later this year. With so many responses we felt that it was right to draw a line on the official consultation on 31 December but I am still happy to receive feedback from anyone with points to make.

Councillor Metcalfe has read every comment sent by residents and responded personally to many. However, with so many received, the Council is unable to respond to each individually.

  • Just over 10 per cent of residents who responded to the survey said that they did not like wheelie bins but 75 per cent approve.
  • Around 36 per cent of residents felt happy with alternate weekly collections but 35 per cent called for a return to weekly collections all year.
  • A further 24 per cent felt that some form of weekly collections during the summer months made a good compromise.
  • Very few people would be happy to see an increase in Council Tax or cuts in other services to pay for weekly refuse collections.

Few people were in favour of fines for putting rubbish out at the wrong time or refusing to recycle. However, there was much more support for littering and flytipping fines. The system of separating waste for recycling is complicated and many people would like more information. Some people would like to see more money spent to improve street cleaning.

The final shape of the new contract will be influenced by many factors, said Councillor Metcalfe. Maximising recycling is essential. We are not just doing this to meet a Government or European Union target. Recycling is by far the best way to cut pollution and protect our environment. We also want to make the system as easy and convenient for residents as possible. Money is obviously another issue and there may be things people would like but we cannot afford. However, I feel much happier that we can now move forward with a clearer understanding of people`s views and expectations.

Further feedback from the consultation will be published in the Council magazine, The Forester and online.

Recycle and Win Cash! First Winner!

Written on . Posted in Recycling and waste, Residents, Your home


Jaine Skeef from Waltham Abbey is the first resident of Epping Forest district to win £100 in the Essex County Council Recycle and Win Cash Competition. Jaine who lives in Abbotts Drive simply put out her recycling for collection on Monday and was picked at random by Epping Forest District Council!

Mrs Skeef said: I was really surprised when the man from the Council knocked and told me that I had won. This competition is a good idea to make sure everybody does their best to recycle and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites.

 Epping Forest District Council Portfolio Holder for Environmental Protection, Councillor Derek Jacobs, who presented the prize to Mrs Skeef said: It is vital that everyone, no matter where they are in the district, recycles as much waste as they can even if they are not on the wheeled bin system at the moment. This will get them into good recycling habits for the future. This competition provides an extra incentive to encourage as much participation as possible.

Councillor Jacobs was joined by Councillor Roger Walters, Deputy to the Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Planning, Environment and Culture at the Essex County Council Green Event held at Epping Library on 8 February at which the first Recycle and Win Cash Prize awarded in the Epping Forest district was presented. Councillors Walters and Jacobs spent some time at the event talking to visitors to the recycling stands which had been set up in the library to persuade residents of the importance of recycling.

The Recycle and win Cash competition is running from 6 February until 31 March to encourage people to recycle. All residents have to do is put their recycling out for collection correctly and they are in with a chance of winning £100 doubling to £200 in the last two weeks! It couldn’t be easier! There are 12 winners each week from across the county, with one winner every week in the district. The more often a household puts their recycling out for collection the better their chance of winning.

A donation of up to £2,000 will be made to Little Havens Children`s Hospice depending on how much Essex residents recycle over the competition period. The more you recycle the bigger the donation!

For more information visit or call Contact Essex on 0845 603 7625. For a blue box or recycling sacks and other information on your recycling collection contact Epping Forest District Council on 01992 564608.


Waltham Abbey Next Step On Recycling

Written on . Posted in Recycling and waste, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Recycling is set to receive another major boost from the beginning of February. Following the successful delivery of around 4,500 new wheelie bins, Waltham Abbey is to become the next area of Epping Forest district to transfer to the new domestic refuse and recycling service. From 30 January, households on the Monday collection day have started to use their new wheelie bins for residual waste, collected on an alternate weekly basis with a wide range of recyclable material.

Doorstep collection of recyclable waste will now include glass, steel and aluminium cans, paper, card, plastic bottles (without lids) and garden refuse. Full details are provided in a special information pack supplied by the Council with each new wheelie bin.

The extension of the new scheme to Waltham Abbey comes three months after residents in Chigwell and Lambourne first started to use the service which has seen a huge increase in domestic recycling. If residents in Waltham Abbey follow the trend set in Chigwell, Epping Forest District Council expects to see household waste sent for landfill waste disposal fall dramatically. In Chigwell and Lambourne, domestic recycling is up by 50 per cent and landfill disposal has been cut by 20 per cent. With the district as a whole producing around 50,000 tonnes of domestic waste annually, the Council believes the potential increase in recycling will produce major environmental and financial benefits.

Councillor Derek Jacobs, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: The feedback from residents following the delivery of the new wheelie bins in Waltham Abbey has been very positive. People see the enormous environmental benefits of switching to the new system of refuse collection as well as the long-term financial benefit of avoiding costly increases in landfill disposal costs. For many people, wheelie bins also represent a much more practical, secure and convenient means of waste disposal than the old black sack method.

Residents who have their refuse collected on Tuesdays are to be in the next phase of the transfer to the new refuse and recycling scheme. People living in Buckhurst Hill, Nazeing and Roydon as well as part of Waltham Abbey and Epping are due to receive wheelie bins in February. A leaflet will be delivered to each household, letting residents know roughly when to expect their new bins and how the new scheme works.

For more information log on to or call Environmental Services on 01992 564608.






Refuse Collectors Injured By Knife And Broken Glass

Written on . Posted in Recycling and waste, Residents, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Residents are being asked to be more careful after separate incidents in which refuse collectors were injured by broken glass and a kitchen knife thrown away in domestic rubbish bags.

Both incidents occurred on black sack collection rounds. Councillor Derek Jacobs, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder appealed to residents to think of the safety of the refuse collectors. He said: In both instances the refuse collectors sustained nasty cuts and were taken to hospital. They also needed time off work for the cuts to heal and stitches to be removed. Collecting our rubbish is a hard job at the best of times and I would appeal to all residents to think before placing sharp objects, especially knives and broken glass in their rubbish.

Refuse collectors are injured by sharp objects in the rubbish every year. The introduction of wheelie bins is expected to lead to a considerable improvement in the accident statistics but black sack collections are scheduled to continue in some parts of the district for up to a year. Most households have blue boxes for glass bottle and jar recycling which are much safer for the refuse collectors.

Councillor Jacobs said: If you are throwing away something sharp that has to go in a sack, please wrap it carefully in several layers of newspaper or some material like an old towel. No-one wants to cause a serious injury to our refuse collectors. Most of the time they accept the hazards of the job but no-one should have to suffer from unnecessary injuries and potential infections caused by what amounts to carelessness. Residents have a moral and a legal obligation to take care.

Councillor Jacobs added: Everyone should also be aware that you could be sued for causing such an injury but no-one wants that. I am sure everyone can agree that avoiding injury in the first place is by far the best policy.


Recycling Boost As Wheelie Bin Rollout Reaches Waltham Abbey

Written on . Posted in Recycling and waste, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Recycling levels are expected to receive another major boost later this month when the next phase on the introduction of wheelie bins for domestic refuse collection gets underway in many parts of Waltham Abbey. A leaflet asking residents (on the Monday collection round) to look out for their new bins is being delivered by Epping Forest District Council`s contractor this week. Delivery of the new bins is due to start on 16 January with the first collections under the new scheme starting on Monday 30 January.

Residents should receive the leaflet `Don`t Rubbish Our Future` explaining how the new domestic refuse and recycling collection scheme will work using a combination of blue box and sacks for recycling and the new wheelie bin to take any waste left over. The scheme has been up and running successfully since October in Chigwell and Lambourne where recycling levels have risen dramatically, click to enlarge image.


Click to enlarge image



Pic: Each wheelie bin delivered to Waltham Abbey has a unique reference number linked to the property address as it is delivered. Only official wheelie bins issued by the Council will be emptied once the new system is operational

The introduction of the new scheme in Waltham Abbey will be followed in February by further deliveries of wheelie bins to residents in Buckhurst Hill, Nazeing,  Roydon and a small part of Epping.

The standard 180 litre wheelie bin will have enough capacity to hold two weeks worth of non-recyclable rubbish produced by most households. Residents will be able to ask for a smaller 140 litre bin. Larger bins will also be available to families with more than two children and residents with special needs.

Once the new scheme is in place, domestic refuse collections will alternate each week between recycling and non-recyclable refuse. Calendars will be included in special wheelie bin delivery packs giving residents full details of how the new collections will work. Among the materials that can be recycled are plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, steel and aluminium cans, and paper and card.

Councillor Derek Jacobs, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council welcomed the introduction of the new scheme to Waltham Abbey. He said: In the long run, increased recycling could save Epping Forest Taxpayers £1 million a year in reduced landfill disposal costs. However, the new scheme is not just better for our pockets. Cutting the amount of waste sent to landfill is also good for the environment. It reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants and reduces the impact on the landscape. The raw materials of recycled waste also cut energy consumption and provide the ingredients used by industry to cerate new products.

For more information click on the wheelie bin at or contact Environmental Services at Epping Forest District Council on 01992 564608. Wheelie bins will also be on display with Council staff on hand to answer questions at a roadshow on 17 January. The show will be outside the shops on Roundhills from 10am to 1pm and Princesfield shops from 2pm to 4pm.