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NRAs 2014: Team of the Year

Winner: Cheshire East Council recycling and waste team

The recycling and waste team is part of the environmental services department within Cheshire East Borough Council. The council came into being in 2009 following local government reorganisation. Three district council waste collection services, along with half a county council waste service, were combined into a single waste and recycling service.

This meant different collection methods, vehicle types, management styles and cultural disparity. The depots were suitable for smaller districts but not in keeping with the needs of one of the largest unitary authorities in the region. The question was, whether, with the required financial savings, the service could survive.

“Significant pressures on its very existence generated passion, belief and engagement from all parts of the organisation. Everyone was fighting to survive and the results speak for themselves: a culture of change, efficiencies and high customer satisfaction.”

The Judges

Rather than buckling under the strain, the recycling and waste team reorganised every round and unified the collection method to a three-bin system. It remodelled and reduced the depot structure and delivered the required financial efficiency savings.

The journey was tough: colleagues left due to staff reductions, there was an ageing RCV fleet and there had been no investment since 2009, which affected reliability. Staff had to build new work relationships, and often operated out of depots further from home.

In 2012, a council cabinet paper recommended outsourcing the service as it thought it was not performing to high standard. But the team decided to fight the recommendation, focusing its efforts on showing the council what a great job it was doing.

It put in place an internal business improvement project to review customer service. To add credibility, it involved the council’s business improvement and customer services teams. The results found that the service was, in fact, high performing. It completed 99.94% of all scheduled collections, 92% of residents were confident that their bins would be emptied on time and 82% of residents said they were satisfied or very satisfied.

Realising that its residents were happy, the council said that outsourcing was not the best option, and asked the team to consider alternative service delivery models. They set to work building a model that would maintain high levels of recycling, customer service and satisfaction while delivering required efficiency savings. It turned staff passion into action, and the service took on wholly owned company status from April 2014.

The Finalists:

  • Highly Commended: Windles Group

In the past few years, the Windles Group has promoted, internally and externally, its passion to achieve zero waste and to be a leader in the print industry on waste prevention, reuse and recycling. This has required direct input from staff and suppliers alike, in particular the logistics team which followed its production schedule to identify opportunities for waste prevention, reuse and recycling. Through the efforts of the team, the company is now recycling 90%.

  • AmeyCespa Education Centre Team
  • DHL Envirosolutions
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council
  • Enval
  • London Borough of Bromley and Veolia Environmental Services
  • npower
  • Southampton City Council

Cheshire East Council Recycling and Waste Team

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