Increasing operational efficiency of waste collection services and meeting new challenges

The bulk of our work involves reviewing current and the potential costs and performance of different waste collection and recycling services. We have worked with over 50 local authorities in the UK and our feedback from clients is as described here.

Challenges are unique to each waste collection authority, but there are often areas where improvements can be made around collection systems, procurement planning, governance approaches, contract management, contingency planning, householder engagement, revenue generation, use of depots, round efficiency, working practices and shared services. These support service resilience.

Furthermore, the strategic and policy challenges arising from ‘Our Waste Our Resources: A Strategy for England’ will necessitate consideration in procurement, contract management or resource planning, beginning in the short term.

Strategic issues arise not purely from the consistent collection policies, the Deposit Return Scheme and Extended Producer Responsibility proposals, but also feature in wider strategic areas. Examples being the changing trade waste dynamic and working from home / Covid waste impacts, service resilience and emergency planning, building a green recovery, the impetus towards forming new Unitary Authorities, the move towards clean air initiatives and the trial and use of electric RCVs and the drive to tackle plastics in the waste stream.

We are in a time of great flux, and budgets are anticipated to be under new strains. At FRM we consider the best way to plan and manage the changes required to adapt to these influences, follow our service review model. This has 5 actions:-

1. Review of the collection operation and infrastructure. This typically involves accompanying crews and seeing both the collection and Council infrastructure first hand. By taking this approach we gain valuable insight into the delivery of the service and its constraints. A purely desk based exercise generally will not suffice in our experience.

2. Review of contracts, governance and service delivery model. An understanding of the current arrangements and opportunities around procurement (of services / vehicles / assets) and the likely market for providing alternatives is an important area of potential efficiency. We work with both contractors and (predominantly) Councils across the Country and are technical advisers for procurement, see here for further information.

3. Review system performance and benchmarking. Collection system performance is a factor of many parameters, but there will always be areas that can be tested against other similar authorities through benchmarking. We have worked with over 50 LAs and have both first hand information and apply databases of performance information to facilitate an assessment of performance. This is linked to the operational review in step 1.

4. Options assessment. The first three actions will highlight a range of potential areas of improvement unique to the authority and related to current performance and the challenges ahead. We are skilled and experienced in applying a variety of industry standard tools in order to model cost, carbon and performance of alternative collection systems, other services and procurement approaches. We are also experienced in considering different vehicle and fuel types as part of assessing options. Details of these services are here.

5. Recommendations and next steps. The outcomes of the Service Review are a set of recommendations, designed to achieve the objectives of the Authority, these will include indicative costs / savings as identified from the Options Assessment.

We are specialists in this field, chartered professionals and work under ISO standards for both quality and environmental management. As a small consultancy we also operate with low overheads, and importantly, provide a flexible, cost effective solution. We have only received good or excellent feedback in our 12 years of business, and seek responses from every client. FRM are on the ESPO Recycling and Waste Consultancy Framework and Bloom portal.

Contact us for a chat to see if we can support you in adapting services to meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities that face our sector at this time. Tel. 01746 552423 Email

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