The current position is that we expect to start Monday 15 January with a backlog of approximately 12,000 recycling collections. We have cleared the general waste backlog as of today. This is great progress, as the backlog at the beginning of the year was over 40,000.

This also means that we can now focus all additional resources into recovering the recycling position next week.

This has been a massive effort from all our crews and those who have supported them and we need to pass on our thanks for their fantastic work in pulling the service back in from such a large deficit.

For context, the normal daily collection rate is 20,000 (200,000 collections over a two week cycle). The loss of Christmas Day and Boxing Day immediately placed an expected 40,000 backlog on the system. Extra resources were pre-planned to deal with the expected Christmas backlog, with the service targeted to catch up by the end of the first week in January. The capacity issues with the new recycling vehicles pushed this plan out.

It is well documented that the new fleet has had issues, focused mainly with the quantity of recycling that has had an efficiency knock-on effect throughout the service. It was recognised very early on that the Christmas backlog was not reducing as expected. The team moved quickly to stabilise the position before the new year, bringing in extra resources, including rental of split back wagons, utilising other vehicles within the fleet and engaging extra drivers and loaders. From 2 January 2024 we have seen considerable progress in tackling the backlog.

The target is to be back to normal operating parameters next week. We expect this to be nearer the end of the week but disruption should be greatly reduced from the peak of the issues experienced.

As multiple vehicles may be used for collections in certain areas, the accuracy of the online reporting is likely to be compromised as the system is not designed for splitting vehicles. The priority is to get the waste and recycling in and the service back to normal limits.

On the week commencing the 21 January 2024, we will seek to resume the bedding in process of the new system. We had originally expected this to be a six cycle / twelve week process, but will not included the Christmas recovery period as many processes were not typical as we sought to reverse the position of the deficit.

As an aside, offloading cardboard bales from the depot has been greatly impacted by the crisis in the Suez Canal. The cardboard collection from Swindon is largely exported to Asia and the companies involved are having issues with their distribution chain, having to divert shipping routes around the cape. This adds 8 to 10 days to their end-to-end process and will result in additional cost that are borne by the Council in reduced revenues per tonne as we seek short term alternatives. This is a live geopolitical position and we may need to seek advice from the environment agency to utilise additional space off-site for storage. This is being closely monitored whilst we seek alternative routes to offload bales.

Once the service has fully recovered, I will resume my updates on the roll-out of the new waste and recycling system.

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