Sheffield City Council is considering scrapping its 35-year waste contract with Veolia, saying the deal is “no longer meeting [its] needs”.
The contract, signed in 2001 and set to expire in 2036, includes the operation of the city’s energy-from-waste (EfW) facility on Bernard Road (pictured) and associated district energy scheme.
It also covers collection and disposal of waste, running household waste recycling centres, bulky item collections and the collection and disposal of abandoned vehicles.
Proposals to review the deal are set to be discussed by the council’s cabinet on 18 January, when members will consider alternative solutions to provide waste services in the city.
The proposals say: “Despite significant work with Veolia in the past five years, it has not been possible to achieve the level of savings required to ensure [the contract] can operate within the council’s reducing budget.”
It suggests that finding a new provider could allow the council to benefit from an increased share of income from the 225,000-tonne capacity EfW plant and make efficiency savings in the collection service.
In place of the Veolia deal, the proposals suggest the council tenders separately for each waste service.
These comprise a seven-year collection contract, a five-year EfW plant operation deal and a two-year district energy network contract.
Bryan Lodge, council cabinet member for the environment, said: “It is no secret that we are operating in very tough financial times and we have to do things differently.
“Our contract with Veolia, which was signed 16 years ago, is no longer meeting our needs and is no longer compatible with the tough financial landscape in which the Government is forcing us to operate.
“In last year’s budget, we set out crucial savings targets but, unfortunately, we have been unable to achieve these savings from the existing contract. We need to find a best-value solution that ensures a quality waste service for Sheffield taxpayers.
“We also know that Veolia currently employs around 180 people in Sheffield. We are committed to consulting with the affected workforce on any proposed changes if they are approved by cabinet next week.”
If the cabinet agrees that the deal should be ended, the contract with Veolia will continue with services unchanged until a new service provider is in place.
However, at the meeting, members will also consider changes to the waste services provided.
The main changes proposed include replacing the blue box with an additional recycling bin; charging for new and replacement black bins and green bins; and changing collection times from 7am to 4pm Monday-Friday, to 6am to 9pm.
Other proposals include: collecting bins at flats on weekends between 7am and 4pm, introducing the collection of plastic bottles for recycling at flats and the introduction of shared black bins or recycling bins.
There are no plans to introduce three-weekly collections of waste, and most changes would not take place until a new contractor had been found.
Lodge said: “We are confident that, by making changes to our waste policy, we can continue to provide a high-quality service to residents – and provide better value for money at the same time.”
Veolia spokesperson it would “do its upmost” to support the company’s employees who may be concerned by the council’s statement.
A spokesperson said: “We are proud to stand by our operational record in Sheffield in delivering sustainable environmental performance and value for money whilst minimising risk to the client.
”Veolia has also always been happy to discuss different service options with the council over the course of our partnership and will continue to work with the authority to deliver efficient services.
“Since the start of this contract in 2001, we have worked with Sheffield City Council to ensure the city has become a leader in UK landfill diversion performance and increased recycling fivefold.
“We have also developed a state-of-the-art energy recovery facility and an award-winning district heat network on behalf of the Council that maximises energy recovery and heat generation to the benefit of local residents and businesses.”