Balancing Trade Waste collections as the pandemic recedes

By Paul Frith & Tim Byrne

The collection service, both domestic and trade waste, has been heavily shook up by the pandemic, but the focus of much commentary has primarily focussed on domestic service impacts. As we see a longer term position start to develop, it is unlikely that either service will return to its 2019 position. This has a particular consequence on the viability and efficiency of the trade waste collection, both in terms of tonnage and the balance of recycling and residual waste. At a time when the focus on commercial waste is sharpening under the beam of the national policy spotlight.

Optimising trade waste collections for the long haul

Each trade waste collection is unique, depending on: the local competitors; historic development of the service; the available infrastructure; the collection service offering, and; the nature of businesses in the area. There are a wide range of options to configuring a trade waste service and how to seek to maximise return and optimise both logistics and the use of infrastructure / equipment. For a local authority, the interface with a domestic collection (where both delivered in-house) is a clear factor in operations. Whether for consideration of co-collecting trade with domestic on some rounds, utilising vehicles via double shifting or on non-domestic collection days, or the use of dedicated trade waste vehicles. Trade waste strategy needs to evolve to meet the aims and objectives of the Council, but in recognition of a changing commercial environment. If the aspiration is to grow the service then whilst it may have taken a hit from the pandemic, there may be local opportunities arising from the changing competitive landscape, or via offering different services. If the aim is to maximise profitable operations, then differential charging may be appropriate, taking account of the cost of delivering the service (i.e. the more costly customers may pay a surcharge). Other aims could be improving or adopting greater separation from residual waste to increase resource recovery. Whichever the approach there will be different options to improve the outcomes. We have listed three approaches below that we have utilised for different Councils in the UK.

Operations Observation

One key element in our experience is to accompany crew on collection rounds to understand both the customer base and the operation first hand. This can help identify savings and opportunities that may not be obvious from a desk-based analysis.

Strategic Review

A second, more strategic approach involves competitor analysis, what are the strengths and weaknesses of competitors and where can the Council offer benefits in terms of its infrastructure and position.

Fleet & Equipment opportunities

Finally, a review of the vehicles and equipment available to the Council in terms of existing fleet, alternatives, opportunities to make efficiencies and opportunities to invest to either save money in the longer term, generate additional income or to expand the service.

If you are seeking support in trade waste services contact us and ask for Paul or Cherie on 01746 552423 or email