Recovery Plan Extended while Recycling Review gets Underway
Successful measures put in place to catch-up with missed recycling collections last month will become a regular feature while a recycling and waste service review is carried out.
Additional vehicles from the Council’s fleet will be deployed in emergency situations to ensure the service is in a much stronger position to deal with unforeseen circumstances such as a vehicle breakdown, unexpected high recycling volumes and bad weather.
The spare vehicles won’t have individual compartments but residents are being reassured that everything will still be recycled as normal. Food waste will be picked up separately.
The Council’s new ruling administration has extended this contingency plan as it sets up a task and finish group after acknowledging that residents are experiencing ongoing collection problems, 18 months after the new service was introduced, which escalated in December.
Spare vehicles helped to clear a massive backlog of collections in the run-up to Christmas when heavy snowfall overwhelmed the additional capacity that had been planned for this period. Last week, 400 tonnes of recycling was collected – the average weekly amount is 220 tonnes.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet-led task and finish group – made up of councillors from all political parties – will examine operational issues to try and solve problems and subsequently increase service efficiency.
Residents, who used to have their recycling picked up every two weeks, started to have weekly collections in July 2016 at the same time as the various bags were replaced by a three-box system. Fortnightly garden and refuse collections stayed the same. The new service aimed to make it easier to recycle, boost participation and save £500,000 a year. Other changes included bringing the recycling service in-house, buying a new fleet and selling materials directly to companies to generate more income.
Cllr. Trevor Johnson, Cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “I would like to apologise to residents who had late collections over Christmas and also thank them for their patience while our staff worked extremely hard to recover from the delays caused by the severe weather.
“If people were visited by a different vehicle than the one they are used to for recycling, it must be stressed that absolutely everything was recycled in the usual way. The same arrangements are now in place if the service experiences similar unplanned events and this will continue until the review is completed and any changes made.
“The current system is clearly not working as reliably as we want it to and the situation needs to be improved. My task and finish group will take a very thorough look at it but it will take time. I’m particularly interested in the quality of recycling generated and the idea of a ‘troubleshoot team’ which would enable the Council to target additional resources in areas where it was needed. Everything is on the table – we will look at all options. We ask residents to bear with us during this important process.”
Council Leader Simon Tagg added: “Recycling and waste collection is the service that residents most associate with their council and it’s essential that it’s delivered properly. Residents have complained about the service long before my group took over control of the Council so we’ve put a short-term plan in place to address immediate issues while we look at longer term options.”