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DCLG waste collection procurement savings questioned

A claim by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that councils could make annual savings of £70m in their waste and recycling services has been challenged.

The DCLG document, attached, titled Household Waste Collection: Procurement Savings Opportunities released in March, claimed that £42.6m could be retained from a 5% efficiency saving across local government waste collection, “driven by harmonisation and standards”.

It also said that local authorities could save £16.7m from the joint procurement of vehicles, £13m from the purchase of containers and £12m from wheeled bins.

The consultancy Eunomia has now questioned the report in an article on the Isonomia blogsite by director Joe Papineschi and waste operations specialist Gwen Frost. They argue that it is misleading and cannot support the efficiency savings claims it makes,

They say: “The press release and the report’s introduction both imply that the improved procurement is the main source of savings, but the biggest element of the £70m does not come directly from procurement at all.

“DCLG does not propose a mechanism by which service harmonisation saving is to be achieved or consider the costs of implementation. Nor do the figures acknowledge that some waste partnerships (such as Somerset and Kent) have already cashed much of this potential dividend.”

The article also questions proposed procurement savings, arguing that the research on which the claim is based is insufficient.

“DCLG estimates the share of waste services expenditure that relates to vehicles and on the basis of a single case study state that 10% of this could be saved across the board. Quite how a Waste Collection Authority that has outsourced its collection services could achieve savings on vehicle procurement is not made clear,” the article stated.

The report suggested that councils could save money by buying bins in bulk and refraining from ordering colourful virgin plastics to save £5 per bin.

The article disputes the figure, which is based on a Green Alliance report that compares grey German bins to more colourful ones using in Birmingham.

“The only evidence supporting DCLG’s claimed £5 saving quickly dissolves upon investigation. Several bin suppliers, including some of the cheaper ones, offer all colours at the same price.”

DCLG has been contacted by MRW for a response.

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