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£70m wasted through failure to join up buying

Council waste departments are missing out on large savings because they do not join with neighbours to procure.

That is the finding of a Government report, Household Waste Collection: Procurement Savings Opportunities, which said that savings of up to 35% could be realised on buying wheeled bins and 10% on refuse collection vehicles, moves that could save some £70m a year in all by procuring in larger volumes through partnerships.

The report originated from the ill-fated Weekly Collection Support Scheme, initiated by communities secretary Eric Pickles. This encouraged local authorities to procure jointly with the incentive of being allowed to keep savings made.

But local government minister Kris Hopkins said: “Few did, and this seems a missed opportunity.

“This lack of ‘join-up’ is not unusual. There appears to be a general tendency across local government to see the procurement of waste management goods as being restricted by local authority boundaries.”

Costs could be cut if councils jointly procured by standardising their requirements, buying in higher volumes and sharing information, the report said.

Different containers would be needed depending on whether a council used source-separated or commingled collections, but there was rarely a need for each council within one or other of these categories to specify different bins, the report found.

Vehicle requirements would differ by whether they were single-bodied, split-bodied or multi-compartment, and the distances they would be required to travel. But councils buying each type could save money through collaborative purchasing.

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