The WRWA trialled a booking system for six months between March and September 2021 at the Smugglers Way facility in Wandsworth, which receives upwards of 1,000 visits a day and is one of the UK’s busiest sites.
According to the WRWA, the system from Bookinglab led to cost savings of £200,000 as it prevented non-residents using the site, and waste volumes fell by 7%.
The authority — which runs facilities for Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth and Wandsworth councils — also said residents overwhelmingly backed the system too.
According to a report from the WRWA, 97% of visitors said they did not need to queue before entering the site, 98% said they found it easy to make a booking and only 12% of visitors wanted to scrap the system.
To make a booking, visitors must fill in a series of required fields, including their address, contact details and number plate.
If they enter an address from outside the catchment area, they cannot finalise their booking.
Likewise, if a visitor turns up on-site and their details do not match those provided, then they will be denied entry by site staff.
This is a great example of how booking technology can deliver enormous value
– Chad Duggan, chief executive, Bookinglab
After visitors arrive on site the ANPR cameras capture their number plate information. If the visitor hasn’t booked, is using the service too frequently, or is flagged as being banned — site staff will be alerted by the ANPR system.
Chad Duggan, chief executive of Bookinglab, said: “This solution is a great example of how booking technology can work alongside operational systems to deliver enormous value. In this case, we extended our capabilities to automate the data exchange between the booking system and on-site ANPR cameras.
“Importantly, this has provided site staff with real-time information — helping them prevent service misuse by validating whether a visitor resides within the boroughs served.”
Before the roll-out of a booking system, the WRWA said it was not uncommon to see queues of up to a quarter of a mile at the Smugglers Way Recycling Centre.
Under the system, the WRWA said they have been able to reduce off-site queueing by controlling site usage and redistributing visits.
By collecting data from their booking system, WRWA has been able to “better understand previous usage trends and optimise their appointment structures on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach”.
Mark Broxup, general manager at the WRWA, concluded: “From the trial, we wanted to achieve two things. Our first objective was to control site usage and redistribute visits. Our second was to reduce the material delivered to the centre by stopping non-resident site usage.
“In the 6-months the system was in place, we achieved all of this (and more). Based on these results and various visitor satisfaction surveys, our members voted to keep the system in place long-term.”
The move comes as local authorities up and down the country have been considering the future of the systems at their HWRCs as part of Covid-19 restrictions.
Those in favour of a system say it enables councils to ensure non-residents can’t use the sites, and also keeps numbers down on busier days, whereas concerns over fly-tipping and ease of access for people not online have been raised by those against.