Northampton borough council is to switch from kerbside sort recycling collections to a commingled service from June 2018, following the award of a 10-year contract to Veolia.
The Conservative-controlled authority has approved the award to the French-owned company of an “innovative” contract, with an optional 10-year extension. The council put the value of the contract at £114 million excluding indexation.
As part of the new arrangements a 50:50 share of the risk and reward for the processing and resale of recycled materials collected has been agreed between the Council and Veolia.
The authority explained that “As resale prices and volumes collected of these materials can go up and down a mechanism in line with current industry standards has been agreed by the Council and the Preferred Bidder to ascertain any financial gain/or loss. The Council has provided within its general reserves an amount to cover such a loss should it arise.”
The fact that Veolia is French-owned was questioned by the leader of Northampton’s Labour Group, councillor Danielle Stone.
At a meeting at which the contract was discussed, Cllr Stone noted that many other local authorities were bringing services back in house after having contracted them out and she questioned “why further exploration of a joint contract with Kettering and Corby Councils had not been fully considered and spoke of preference that the company be British”.
Veolia will succeed Amey as contractor for the environmental services work – the contract was originally let to Enterprise which was acquired by Amey in 2013 on a two council basis with Enterprise also serving Daventry council. In December 2017 it was announced that a new collection service for Daventry will start in June 2018 and be delivered by Daventry Norse, a new joint venture between the council and Norse Commercial Services involving commingled dry recycling.
In Northampton, Veolia said that to improve collection efficiency it will be introducing its municipal smart technology known as ‘ECHO’ which tracks vehicles, confirms tasks, changes routes and adds collections into the system in real-time, enabling the delivery of a tailored service that can react to day-to-day occurrences across all services.
Commenting on the contract, Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice president, Veolia UK and Ireland, said: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to improve the local environment for the communities in Northampton. Our teams are committed to providing an effective service to help increase recycling rates across the borough enabling it to better realise the value of its recycling as a valuable commodity.”
Northampton’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Mike Hallam, added: “Veolia is offering services at a level people deserve and our residents made it clear that the new environmental services provision needed to be of excellent quality. The changes outlined in the winning bid demonstrate an understanding of the complex issues we’ve faced during the past decade and offer practical solutions.”
The new services include responsibility for recycling food and green waste, with dry mixed recycling going to “local materials recovery facilities”, improved reuse of bulky items and kerbside collections of small electrical items. New wheeled bins for recycling, will be issued to all properties that currently have wheeled bins.
Veolia highlighted that under the new contract: “The new bin will replace the boxes that are currently used, enabling residents to store their recycling in one container, eliminating the need to separate the different materials. The use of a wheeled bin will also eliminate the issue caused by materials being blown out of recycling boxes by the wind.”
“Veolia is offering services at a level people deserve”Cllr Mike Hallam
Northampton borough council
At the Cabinet meeting last month discussing the contract award, Cllr Hallam noted that commingling had been requested by a large number of residents as part of the consultation process.
And, he he told councillors that the decision to not bring the contract back in house had been made at the very beginning of the process. Minutes of the meeting report that the councillor “further reported that not only were the new contractors entrepreneurial but the innovativeness of the contract would see many new trial features”.
Two bidders had been shortlisted for the work, for the contract to either be inclusive or exclusive of the cost of Vehicles, Equipment and Containers to be used to deliver the services. “This approach,” said the authority, “has enabled the Council to evaluate the option of using its own sources of funding for the purchase of these assets instead of the bidders cost of capital.”