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Industry calls for collaboration and innovation

Waste firms and local authorities must work together to deal with the threat of reduced council budgets, according to the waste management sector.

In a comment piece for MRW, Biffa development director Peter Dickson, said that its municipal clients had made cuts to their waste services. He recommended various measures for cost savings, including councils to working in partnership with each other and the controversial suggestion of four-weekly waste collection cycles.

Veolia said that it has also seen its local authority clients looking to explore new ways of realising value for money in the last couple of years as council budgets are reduced.

Jack Lavington, Veolia Environmental Services development director for the public sector, said it had operated in partnership with local authorities to help achieve savings.

Innovation ‘critical’

He said: “The ability to be innovative is critical to finding value for money solutions and this is an area that allows Veolia to show its true partnership value. Local authorities have a statutory obligation to provide collection and cleansing services and the priority is to work collaboratively with these authorities to ensure improved efficiency go hand in hand with enhancing service delivery”.

Viridor said it was seeing waste services being transformed across the country as councils focused on austerity savings. Dan Cooke, director of external affairs for Viridor, said the company was seeing “a microscopic focus on value”.

He said: “Authorities are undertaking comprehensive service reviews, with a focus on core service provision. They are looking for partnership opportunities at both the front and back end, with a view to realising the synergy benefits.

“We’re also seeing an increasing recognition of how investment in robust and cost-effective next-generation infrastructure - including energy from waste - can help mitigate against long term increases in waste management costs.”

Good dialogue essential

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) said that local authorities were best placed to decide how to prioritise waste management budgets but that this could be done in tandem with waste management firms.

ESA recycling policy adviser Jakob Rindegren said: “Clearly local authority budgets are extremely tight and getting tighter, and councils will be looking for excellent value for money for waste management services they have contracted from the private sector.

“Both local authorities as clients and waste management contractors will want to find efficiencies which do not harm environmental outcomes or convenience for householders. Good dialogue between waste management companies and councils is the best way to achieve this.”

FCC Environment declined to comment on how the cuts had affected their municipal contracts.

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