A council spokesperson told letsrecycle.com that the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit had “badly affected” its collections last year, making it difficult to recruit or bring in agency staff.
And, the council says a lack of “large-scale end markets” for low grade plastics is affecting its household waste recycling rate.
Brighton’s policy and resources committee yesterday (7 July) discussed the council’s progress towards meeting key performance indicators for missed collections ‘red’ under a traffic light system.
The Cityclean team missed 651 residual waste bins per every 100,000 collections between April 2021 and March 2022, a report which will go before the committee shows, while the target was 171.
This is much worse than in the same periods for 2019/20 and 2020/21, when Cityclean staff missed 395 and 362 bins per 100,000 collections respectively.
And, there were 1,008 missed recycling bins per 100,000 collections in 2021/22, the report shows. The target was 337.
This is slightly better than in 2019/20, when 1,089 bins per 100,000 collections were missed, though it is worse than last year, when 754 bins per 100,000 were missed.
The statistics do not account for “lockouts”, the report says, where bins have not been put out or cannot be collected because they are contaminated.
A spokesperson for Brighton & Hove city council told letsrecycle.com its waste and recycling collections had been “badly affected” by Covid-19 and Brexit in 2021/22.
Covid and Brexit affected our ability to recruit new people or bring in agency staff
– Brighton & Hove city council spokesperson
“As well as staff testing positive and having to isolate, Covid and Brexit also affected our ability to recruit new people or bring in agency staff. The national shortage of HGV drivers is well known,” the spokesperson said.
“Covid and Brexit have also created serious supply issues that have made it difficult to get vehicle parts when bin lorries break down.”
The council put a new management structure in place in January and are putting in place a “wide range of strategies” to improve performance management, the spokesperson said.
They added: “More driver and collection operative posts have been created. We have hired additional vehicles and are continuing to upgrade our vehicle fleet.
“We have also invested in technology to improve communication with our crews and offer better information for residents. As a result, the number of missed collections has been reducing since January.”
Meanwhile, Brighton recorded a recycling rate of 30.1% between April and December 2021, according to the report.
This represents a slight increase on the city’s rate for the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years, when it stood at 29.2%, 29.4% and 29.2% respectively.
However, this is still short of the 34.9% target set by the council for 2021/22.
By way of explanation, Brighton’s report reads: “Recycling rates are dependent on a number of factors, including that there are currently no large-scale ‘end markets’ to collect low grade plastics.
“This means comparison with other local authorities can sometimes be misleading. While some do collect more materials and state a higher rate of recycling than BHCC, these materials can be exported abroad and some of it has been shown to go to landfill in these countries.”