9 May 2019 by Steve Eminton

South East councils ‘saving £21.5 million’ on waste services

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Innovation in delivering waste and recycling services in South East England has saved at least £21.5 million according to a study of many authorities in the region.

The findings come in the latest report from Local Partnerships which works with the Local Government Association and HM Treasury to study and advise on local authority waste and recycling activities, contracts and infrastructure.

John Enright, the Project Lead at Local Partnerships for the recycling and waste sector, outlined some of the findings and aims of the study in a special video interview for letsrecycle.com. Mr Enright highlighted the “best endeavours” of local authorities “to deliver efficiencies while at the same time trying to protect and enhance services”.

The report, published this week, studied 34 of 74 waste collection authorities, waste disposal authorities and unitary councils in South East England.

For the South East, partnership working and joint delivery, as well as contract management and service reviews and changes play significant roles, the study found.

Fuel saving

And it highlighted how benefits gained by local authorities needed to be look at across service costs, such as a saving of one litre a year of diesel fuel per household in terms of collection savings in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse area.

The authorities who took part in this review are realising efficiency savings through:

  • „ contracts: financing, management, changing re-tendering and renegotiation
  • „ service reviews, changes, additions
  • „ charges for garden waste
  • „ communication and engagement
  • „ joint working
  • „ route optimisation
  • „ addressing contamination
  • „ optimising the value of resources
  • „ rationalisation of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and bring sites
  • „ staffing optimisation
  • „ technology changes
  • „ vehicle changes

The report is the eighth Local Partnerships review and in comparison to the efficiencies found in the other reviews over time, different financial models and shared services are some of the latest solutions adopted. But, ongoing efficiencies such as route optimisation, joint procurement/partnership working and contracts remain important.

Click on the image to access the report

In terms of specific councils, Buckinghamshire county council is highlighted for its financing work regarding its energy from waste plant.

The study notes: “The Energy from Waste Contract for Buckinghamshire county council is delivering in excess of £5 million of savings each year for the council compared to the cost of the previous disposal arrangements. It is therefore on track to deliver more than £150 million in total over the 30 years of the contract. A large portion of these savings can be linked to financing decisions made regarding the contract.

“The authority has directly financed the capital cost of the infrastructure which is around £180 million. Thereby it greatly reduced debt repayment costs and the gate fees that would have been effect if privately financed.”


Contract renegotiation benefits are also highlighted by Local Partnerships. It notes how South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have realised the benefits of contract renegotiation. The original waste collection contract was awarded in 2008 on a seven plus seven year basis.

The study says: “A major component of the contractor’s fixed costs is fleet purchase. It was therefore unlikely to be economically viable to negotiate the contract extension to cover a notably shorter period. As the contract was running well – the two districts consistently achieved recycling rates in the top three of English authorities and satisfaction rates were high – an early decision was taken to award the full extension in 2014. The renegotiation (excluding indexation) reduced annual contract costs by £60,000, equating to a £600,000 saving for the remaining term. It also avoided possible re-procurement costs which can be significant.”

Advice is given to councils on a number of topics. Some covers the joining up of waste services. Authorities are advised “if you leave too much time to talk through what the new service will look like it can encourage a lack of urgency in decision making. A degree of time pressure can help to get decisions made faster, saving colleagues’ time and helping to keep the pace up.”

Related Links
Report – Delivering Waste Efficiencies in the South East


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