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Race to win - Biffa at the Olympics

The Olympic Games will bring 17,800 athletes and team officials and 22,000 accredited press to London, with eight million tickets sold. There’s no doubt that the increased presence will create an impact at times around the Games venues, and particularly in London which hosts 27 out of 37 competition venues.

At the end of 2010, two thirds of businesses surveyed expected the Olympics to have no impact on their business. Now, the picture has dramatically changed with just 3% anticipating no disruption to their business. And Biffa is no exception.

Exclusion zones, road events, and traffic are all likely to impact collections in affected areas, in terms of collection routes and also its workforce getting to and from work. In fact, Biffa anticipates 25,000 affected collection vehicles per week including 90 potentially affected routes per day.

The Olympic and Paralympic route network includes 109 miles of designated routes, which will have up to 1,100 Games vehicles going in each direction each hour during peak periods. There are over 1,000 measures in place to ease traffic flow for the Games, including traffic orders banning certain traffic movements, specific ‘Games lanes’ and suspended traffic lights.

To reduce the impact on our customers, we’ve moved over 4,000 day shifts to the night and added in additional night shift routes to create back-up during the day. We’ve also created a central London fast response team to be used as required. Along with additional drivers we’ve created the capacity for over 8,000 additional weekly collections throughout the Games.

Over the past six months, we have held briefing sessions for our corporate customers to show them exactly what we’re doing to reduce the impact the Games is likely to bring to our service including extra resource and contingency planning. But it isn’t just down to what Biffa can do to minimise disruption.

We are asking customers to ensure that where collection times have changed to a night collection that containers or bags are on the site boundary at the right time, and ensure they do not conflict with other deliveries taking place. We’ve offered provisions to customers such as increased number of or different containers to allow overflow and providing an increased bag stock to prevent the need for deliveries during the Olympic period.

There’s always the chance that a serious or prolonged incident occurs that might affect the service but Biffa already has experience of managing issues causing severe service disruption with the London Riots last year – and the Olympic Games is no different. Biffa has an emergency operation group to manage its service delivery and ensure there is minimal disruption for our customers in all situations.

While Biffa has put in extra resources and contingency plans to ensure the service is not interrupted, it has also increased capacity in its customer service team to reflect an expected increase in call traffic. They will work closely with the customer account managers and operations teams to enhance communication.

No one knows for sure how the Olympic and Paralympic Games will affect day-to-day business. But one thing everyone can be sure of is that there will be increased traffic leading to delays as well as closed roads and alternative routes in place. It’s essential that plans to avoid the busiest periods are implemented and alternative collections provided. With the right plan in place Biffa plans to ensure customers continue to receive a top class service, leaving them free to enjoy and profit from the Games.

James Fairclough, Biffa regional business director for London

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