Last year was a hiatus, but the winter has brought a new direction

As is well documented, the waste management service responded during the onset of the pandemic, with a focus on delivery of essential services in new and challenging circumstances. Meanwhile the progression of services, strategy and in some cases infrastructure and procurement went on hold.

This was reflected in the number of projects we get involved in, which dropped off substantially from the Spring through to the Autumn. Since November however, project work has flourished. The reasons for this probably vary, but there are a wide range of projects we are now working on covering procurement, strategy, business cases and modelling. All of them are ‘looking ahead’ to developing services or infrastructure, and some examples are below…

Resource & Waste Strategies

The bulk of Municipal Waste Management Strategies (MWMS) were developed in the period 2005 – 2010, and many of these had durations running to 2020. Strategies can take around a year to formulate (depending on consultation requirements) and in normal circumstances it would be anticipated that a new round of strategy development would be underway from 2018/19 to explore and set out intentions from 2020 to 2030 or 3035. This hasn’t happened in England for various reasons, firstly the uncertainty around policy impacts of the national Resources and Waste Strategy, secondly budgetary constraints, balanced against the ‘need’ for a strategy, and finally the Covid impact. The risks of not having a long term strategy when many of the decisions regarding waste services and infrastructure usually span 7 years or more, start to weigh on the other side of the decision making process, and now several Councils are reviewing their resource and waste strategies for the next decade and beyond.

Procurement & Infrastructure

How to procure services (in-house / outsourced / joint contract / Teckal) remains an important area for realising good value services. Making services attractive to the private sector is an essential element of outsourcing and one in which we are involved through soft market testing, drafting procurement documentation and infrastructure review. Consideration of the costs and benefits of either outsourcing or in-sourcing is a growing area of interest. One element that can facilitate the efficient delivery of services is the effective use of infrastructure (depots, transfer stations, bulking sites, HWRCs, MRFs etc.). Some investment in capital projects to alleviate revenue budgets can be attractive to Council’s, and again we have been involved in projects in this area also.

The Changing Climate

What is the best way to collect / treat waste in the light of the climate emergency? This is a question that we are being asked through a number of modelling projects and it is not a straight-forward one, partly because waste management is a complex system comprising many materials and processes, and secondly these (and their impacts) can vary over time. For example the lowest impact approach now, may differ in five years time, as by then we will be in a world of DRS, EPR, more electric vehicle collection and a ‘cleaner’ background energy mix. We can calculate current impacts and project ahead to look at anticipated future impacts, and around a third of our current projects are looking at carbon impacts of waste management services and infrastructure.

Procuring consultants

Lastly, I mulled over whether to write this part, but having spoken to several other consultancies over the past month or so, one common aspect is that they / we have ‘no bid’ opportunities a lot more than normal. This is because the hiatus has meant that projects are now being concertinaed in a short space of time, and there are also more opportunities on the market. In order to get good quality bids and a competitive range of consultants bidding for opportunities, it would be worthwhile, now in particular, ensuring that timescales for both tendering for opportunities and also delivering the work are reasonable. We really don’t like making a ‘no bid’ decision (as we value all opportunities!) but we do so to ensure that the projects we are committed to, are delivered well, on time and on budget. All of our client feedback forms back that up.

FRM are expanding (see the next press release!) and are currently providing services to national Government departments, WDAs, WCAs, UA’s, Government Agencies, technology providers and waste management contractors. Contact us for a chat or to discuss opportunities on 01746 552423 or email sarah@frithrm.com

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