Urbaser suspends some collections amid driver shortage

Waste management company Urbaser has announced that recycling collections in Tonbridge and Malling will be suspended for two weeks because of a shortage of refuse truck drivers.

The problems have been raised by residents for many weeks

It comes just days after the Tonbridge and Malling borough council revealed there had been “financial penalties” issued to the contractor due to “poor performance”.

Bin collections in the borough have been missed multiple times
Photo: Alan Bird, owner of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Refuse Collection Problems


In a statement released yesterday (24 June) the council said that like many other waste service providers, Urbaser has been “struggling” with a shortage of drivers for recycling rounds.

As a result, Urbaser announced that it is suspended recycling collections for a further two weeks to catch up.

The council expects full service to be resumed from Monday 12 July and has issued the following advice which applies to green-lidded bin and box collections only:

“Residents with outstanding recycling collections from last week (14-18 June) should leave their bins out. These collections should be completed by Saturday 26 June. Recycling collections due this week (21-25 June) and for the next two weeks (28 June-9 July) have been suspended.”

Urbaser was awarded the contract, previously held by Biffa in 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story).

‘Positive steps’

Javier Peiro, managing director, Urbaser Ltd, said: “We would like to apologise to residents for this disruption to their recycling service and reiterate that we remain committed to recommencing collections as soon as possible.”

“A significant upturn in waste and recycling volumes, combined with a national driver shortage exacerbated by the lack of driver training and testing during the pandemic, means that we are struggling to address the current shortfall.

However, we are taking positive steps to address the issue and this brief suspension of the service will help us to consolidate our resources and resume recycling collections.”

‘Very concerned’

Last week, the council released a statement reporting that it was “very concerned” around the previous disruptions to waste collections.

The problems have been raised by residents for many weeks
Photo: Mr Alan Bird

It added that the disruptions had resulted in “financial penalties” due to poor performance by the waste contractor.

The full statement from council leaders Nicolas Heslop and Tom Dawlings said: “We are very concerned about the issues that some residents are experiencing with the waste collection service and apologise to those who are affected.

We are in discussions with our contractor, Urbaser, about resolving these problems and delivering the waste collection and recycling service our residents expect.

“Both councils expect Urbaser to meet its contractual obligations in full and we are issuing financial penalties for poor performance where appropriate and in accordance with the terms of the contract.

“We will continue to apply pressure at senior levels at Urbaser to ensure the contract terms are delivered and will consider all options available to achieve that objective.”

Campaign group

The problems with collections in the borough have been raised for many weeks by a local campaign group called Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Refuse Collection Problems.

The group said the issues have been ongoing for a number of weeks and have seen issues such as broken bins being left in streets and waste piling up.

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