Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge and Malling borough councils suspended their garden waste collections on in July 2021 to enable available resources to be focused on residual and recycling wate collections following a shortage of drivers and loaders.
During this time, the councils have been able to complete just two ad hoc collections of garden waste via their waste contractor Urbaser.
The councils said this had cost them nearly £750,000 in lost subscription fees, and began “detailed and ongoing dialogue” with Urbaser to solve this.
A report which went before Tunbridge Wells council on Friday (11 March), said these discussions “have resulted very recently in a proposal from our contractor to pay enhanced rates to drivers to encourage recruitment and retention”.
The report added: “ Having undertaken a careful analysis of the current labour market, the contractor is confident that these enhanced payments will enable the deployment of sufficient resources to restart the service”.
The waste and recycling collection contract is a joint contract with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council who will also be party to the agreement
The costs associated with the enhanced payments will be shared by the two councils and Urbaser in a 57%:43% split, for a six-month period up to a combined cap of £177,896, ex VAT.
It is estimated that the two councils will pay around £13-14,000 a month for the next six months to cover the contract, with Urbaser fronting the rest.
The contract with the two councils, also known as the South Kent Waste Partnership, covers around 100,000 homes.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council recorded a 51.6% recycling rate in 2020/21, while Tunbridge Wells recorded a 47.5% rate .
Garden waste collections will be significant for the council, as Defra statistics suggest around 25% of recycling in the area is made up from organics, including garden waste.