Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 15:29 UK

Bin contents removed for testing

Bins in Haywards Heath
Households were not informed until after the waste was taken

A council has taken away the contents of residents' wheelie bins to find out how much food is being thrown away.

Mid Sussex District Council took waste from 30 bins in the district and sent it to Brighton University's Waste and Energy Research Group for analysis.

Households were not warned in advance, but were told about the tests at the time the rubbish was removed.

The council said it wanted to make sure the samples represented normal waste disposal to help reduce landfill.

Opposition councillor, Lib Dem Brian Hall, said he "utterly" condemned the exercise.

"I think that the process was incredibly intrusive, and the fact that people haven't been warned about this is atrocious," he said.

'Firm facts'

The council said the rubbish audit was common practice by councils designing waste management services and it had not received any complaints from residents.

Council leader Gordon Marples said: "We would like to reassure our residents that samples are being analysed anonymously and there is no cause for concern over confidentiality.

"Surveys have indicated that up to 30% of waste going to landfill may be food waste.

"The present exercise will give us firm facts."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Brighton University said: "The aim of the study is not to look at personal information. All waste is kept onsite and no waste is removed except to return it to the general waste stream."

"The study is carried out by university staff and the university has a proven track record in this type of research."

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