Cllr Watts, Cabinet Member for The Environment and Transport, gave an update to Councillors yesterday after the first fortnight of the new waste collections.

Dear Councillors

This is an update after the first two weeks of the new waste and recycling system.

We have collected approximately 200 tonnes of food waste since the scheme started. This saves the council £30,000 compared to our previous scheme in just 2 weeks.

We expect that the outstanding collections will be approximately 1000 by the end of today. This represents a 99.5% collection rate in the first full two-week cycle and is beyond our expectations at this point.

To put this in context, every day of the first 2 weeks is the first day of that route for that crew. As such even in 2 months’ time, crews will only have run those routes 4 times. We have previously informed Cllrs that we expect about 12 weeks as the bedding in period and steady improvements through this time.

2500 properties have report missed collections over the first two week, averaging 250 per day. This is slightly below our expectations of 400-500 per day to begin with. Missed collection have been higher in week 2 as the weights have been considerably higher than normal. Many of these reports have been due to either incorrect presentation (for example bagged plastics) or collection on the incorrect day.

Week 2 of the cycle was always planned to be the hardest week to manage due to the increased tonnages of those who have been waiting for an extended period. The dropped work numbers decreased yesterday, and we expect it to do so again today.

We should see a levelling out of tonnages in week 3 and 4.

We have had a Councillor enquiry on behalf of a resident about the way in which the food is collect and residents are concerned that the food waste is going in a wheelie bin. Food waste collectors use ‘helper bins’ where they throw the food waste from the outdoor food caddy into a standard wheelie bin. This allows them to collect from more properties at a faster rate. The helper bin is then emptied on the vehicle once it is full. This would explain why some resident may inadvertently believe food waste in going into general waste.

There have been issues with some vehicles that have been addressed by the manufacturer. We currently have 4 refuse vehicles off the road. Presently, we are content that these are not serious engineering issues and will be resolved through adjustment and modifications. When a Wagon fails to leave the yard, this is replaced by a conventional wagon and a separate food waste vehicle. By splitting the vehicles, we have seen incidents of individual streams not collected due to a disconnect. This will not be an issue once all vehicles are in service.

There is a concern regarding the volume of cardboard that can be accommodated on the kerbside vehicles. It has been noted that vehicles have had to return with full cardboard pods whilst other pods have capacity. This will be monitored closely as the cause may be the increased recycling in week 2 as described above in conjunction with Black Friday promotions. We will be running one experimental kerbside next week swapping the pod usage between cardboard and the Plastic/Metal pod as this has a greater capacity.

In the isolated incident reported by a Councillor where a mop-up crew were sent to an individual address, the crews should have collected from the whole street as we have given a special instruction during this period to do so. However normally they would be correct to only collect from properties who report missed collections. This may explain why the crew member made an error in the moment as that would be the normal policy.

We have had a specific problem with recent new build properties and some historic weekly refuse (blue bag refuse) properties not appearing correctly in our data and therefore some missing collections and information missing from the website. We have now designated a staff member to working through those reports and make sure that our system is updated. This will then feed through to the website.

This a very challenging time for all staff involved and both the collection crews and the team at Waterside have been putting in overtime and going above and beyond to deliver the new service. They are addressing the problems head on as they arise and helping to ensure that we get through these early weeks with the best outcomes possible. I hope you will all join me in passing on thanks to all involved as we all appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes in to making this happen.

I will seek to provide a further update after the next two week cycle.

Best Regards

Chris Watts
Old Town Ward
Cabinet Member for
The Environment and Transport
New Swindon bin lorry with Rob Brown and Cllr Chris Watts
New Swindon bin lorry with Rob Brown and Cllr Chris Watts
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