13 August 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Redbridge council brings waste service in-house

Labour-run Redbridge council has brought its waste and recycling collection service in-house.

The borough’s waste services were previously run by Amey, whose contract with the council expired at the start of this month.

Cllr Jas Athwal has welcomed the move to bring Redbridge’s waste service under the control of Redbridge Services Ltd

Cabinet Member Cllr John Howard launched the new service yesterday (August 12) at the council’s Ley Street Depot.

The East London borough has said moving the service under the control of a local authority company, Redbridge Services Ltd, will enable it to both increase the current 24% recycling rate and reduce its disposal costs.

The borough, which spans the Woodford, Ilford and Barkingside area of East London has around 102,400 households, around 31% of which are flats. It ranked as the 11th lowest performing authority in terms of recycling rate in England in 2017/18.

‘Achievement’

Commenting on the new arrangement, the leader of Redbridge council, Cllr Jas Athwal commented: “Breaking free of our old contract with a private company is a huge achievement for the council.

“Bringing our waste management back into public sector control will hugely improve our service while guaranteeing better working conditions and pay for our staff and reducing costs for the taxpayer.”

Cllr Jas Athwal, Redbridge council

“Bringing our waste management back into public sector control will hugely improve our service while guaranteeing better working conditions and pay for our staff and reducing costs for the taxpayer.”

This was echoed by Cllr Howard, who said: “We promised our residents to bring bin collections back under our control and we have delivered on that pledge. This is a huge step for our residents, staff and the council, and helps ensure our streets are kept clean and green.“

The council’s collection contract commenced in 2007, and the initial contract term ended in July 2014. The parties subsequently agreed to extend the contract period until July 2019 but this has not been renewed.

Amey

In a statement, Amey said that it was pleased to have worked with the council on the running of the service and thanked employees who had worked as part of the contract.

A company spokesperson said: “Amey is proud to have worked with Redbridge council for over 20 years, delivering key waste and recycling services to the local community. During this period we have successfully implemented new recycling services including garden waste schemes which increased recycling rates and improved services for local residents.

“We are pleased to have worked in partnership with the council to deliver a smooth transition period for all staff and residents as the service goes back in-house.”

Amey

“We are pleased to have worked in partnership with the council to deliver a smooth transition period for all staff and residents as the service goes back in-house. We would like to thank our employees, many of who have been long serving, for their hard work, as well as our colleagues at Redbridge council for their support over the years.”

All staff and vehicles will be retained under the move, and the council will trial wheeled bins for residual waste as it looks to update the service.

Costs

A financial analysis to the council earlier this year suggested that moving the service in-house was the most “cost-effective” route. It is expected to cost the authority around £5.2 million to run the collection service via a local authority company, compared to £5.5 million for outsourcing the work.

Ilford in the London borough of Redbridge

Redbridge is a member of the East London Waste Authority, and is therefore a signatory to the disposal agreement with Renewi which has been in place since 2002.

This sees around 450,000 tonnes of waste transported to two mechanical biological treatment (MBT) facilities at Frog Island & Jenkins Lane, East London, where it is processed into RDF. A report to the council explained that Redbridge is charged £147 a tonne for both residual waste and recycling, as the contract was initially focused on landfill diversion.

The report said that this limits the opportunity to collect additional streams at the kerbside because “additional collection costs would not be off-set by decreased disposal costs and/or recyclate income as more modern disposal contracts could offer”.

The cost per tonne for residual disposal and recyclate disposal will be the same until 2027 so any future service change “must ensure the Authority recycles more but does not increase the overall cost of the kerbside collection services the Authority provides”.

Plans

The council currently runs weekly black sack collections of residual waste with no limit on the amount of waste that can be discarded, which it says doesn’t incentivise residents to recycle. It also offers a black box for glass, bottles and cans and blue box for mixed paper and card.

Redbridge says that under the in-house deal it will roll out a trial which will see 180 litre bins rolled out across a small area for a weekly collection with a no side waste policy. It is hoped this will decrease the amount of residual waste the borough produces and subsequently sent for processing.

In 2017/18 the Authority disposed of over 70,000 tonnes of waste, which it says is the fourth highest tonnage per household in the United Kingdom.

The Authority said it is also in discussion with Renewi regarding whether the inclusion of separate food waste would be viable under the current disposal contract.

Councils moving waste services in-house has been in the headlines again in recent weeks, with Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Gwynne, having revealed that a Labour government would prioritise ‘insourcing’ by local authorities (see letsrecycle.com story).

This prompted a strong response from figures in the private sector, with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and waste management firm Serco both challenging the proposal (see letsrecycle.com story).

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