Waste collection and disposal authorities in the north-west say their priority is to save money rather than drive up recycling rates.
The strategies being employed means that around £20m has been saved by the 22 authorities which responded to detailed research into their services.
The work was undertaken by Local Partnerships (LP), which is owned by the Treasury and the Local Government Association, to provide professional support and advice in the delivery of major infrastructure programmes, procurement, contract management and other areas.
Delivering Waste Efficiencies in the North West was written by John Enright, LP head of joint working, assisted by Dr Jane Beasley, director of Beasley Associates. The report says the £20m was likely to be a conservative estimate because more than 20 did not respond.
“This is a significant sum, and reflects the good practice that is being delivered across the participating authorities in the north-west,” it said.
“It is worth noting at this stage that a significant number of authorities expressed a desire to take part in the review but felt that they had insufficient resources in terms of staff time to pull together the information required. This certainly reflects the current climate that authorities find themselves operating within, in terms of ever-decreasing budgets and the impact on staffing and capacity.”
LP says budget cuts remains the most pressing concern on both collection and disposal authorities.
“This review charts the ongoing pressures facing local government in providing a comprehensive service with ever-diminishing resources.
“There was a strong feeling that action will not necessarily be taken simply to generate an increase in percentage points for recycling; the main priority is generating value for money services within a limited public budget.”
But it concludes: ”All authorities continue to deliver good-quality waste services, building on current levels of performance, while at the same time delivering significant financial savings.”
The report says respondents noted that recycling rates had stagnated during the past three years, a trend seen in many UK authorities.
Rochdale and Bury were highlighted for achieving ”a significant increase in recycling in 2015” through reduced collection frequency while maintaining overall capacity, but others had experienced slight decline.
”Various reasons were given for this, notably reduced staffing and resources impacting upon communication and engagement, enforcement and training.”
Best practice identified included:
- route optimisation and round efficiencies
- streamlining services
- joint procurement
- HWRC optimisation
- maximising income and value from the service
- rationalising staffing
- changing collection frequency
- contract savings and management
- food waste reduction
- reducing waste disposal costs
- promotion and support of reuse