The Strategic Lead for Waste presented the Waste Update Report to the Committee. She confirmed that the report outlines the changes to the Waste Service coming into place in September 2023 and an overview of the improvement plan.
The new waste service collection plans due to commence in September 2023 are as follows: -
· Alternate Weekly Refuse Collection
· Weekly Recycling Collection
· Alternate Weekly Garden Waste Collection
· Weekly Food Waste Collection
The Strategic Lead for Waste updated the Committee that in February 2023 17 agency workers will become full time employees. She also confirmed that there remains a national HGV driver shortage which poses a challenge for recruitment of drivers.
The Chair raised concerns about the new caddie bin to be provided and raised concerns about the number of bins and whether they will be returned to the correct house. The Chair also queried if another vehicle will collect the food waste.
The Strategic Lead for Waste explained that there will be one 5 litre caddie which residents can store in their kitchen and there will also be an external 27 litre caddie to be stored outside. Both bins are small enough that they don’t need wheels and can be carried. The bin to be stored outside is lockable so creatures cannot open it and it will fit on top of resident’s wheelie bins. The Strategic Lead for Waste proposed holding a Member’s engagement session where they can view the sample caddies. The Strategic Lead for Waste confrimed that the new trucks have a rear lifting system for recycling and a side lifting system for food. A company has been found that will transport the food waste to Croydon in vehicles that use bio-fuels. Members were invited to visit the food waste plant if they wanted to.
The Chair queried if a food waste recycling centre had been considered in Thurrock. The Chair also queried who is on the Waste Service Board.
The Strategic Lead for Waste confirmed that she is on the board, Councillor Jefferies, the Assistant Director of Street Scene and Leisure, representatives from the fleet, the Health and Safety representative, Directors Julie Nelder and Julie Rogers, customer service team and information management team representatives.
The Assistant Director of Street Scene and Leisure added that the board is operatrionally focused and therefore there has been input from across the Council. It is task related and therefore some of these representatives wont be invited all of the time.
Councillor Byrne commented that the department have never ever put their hands up and said we got it wrong. He stated that a resident told him that recently when a driver got out of the truck there was a smell of cannabis. Councillor Byrne stated that he has raised this as a complaint and the response was the worked don’t smoke.
The Assistant Director of Street Scene and Leisure Council stated that the Council has recently improved the drug and alcohol policy and they will be implementing this. If evidence is provided to them they will commence an investigation and deal with it in line with the Council’s policy.
The Strategic Lead for Waste confirmed spot checks are being completed once a month and this will be recorded so it can be audited.
Councillor Muldowney commented that this is Government legislation which must be put in place. She praised the procurement of sustainable transport for this and that there is now a proper audit trail for complaints. Councillor Muldowney queried the assisted bin collection service.
The Strategic Lead for Waste responded that they are currently checking the assisted bin collection list. They are also looking at an option to put a sticker on these resident’s bin to demonstrate to crews which bins require this additional service. The loaders collect 1300 -1500 bins a day and therefore this may help to improve the service especially when it is not the usual workers completing the route due to staff sickness.
Councillor Muldowney queried if recycling will be staying two weekly and if this can be guaranteed given the Council’s financial situation.
The Assistant Director of Street Scene and Leisure referred to paragraph 2.1 of the report which outlines the new bin collection regime being brought forward in September 2023. The department are waiting on the outcome of a Government consultation which could affect how they collect the waste which may require greater source separation. The Assistant Director of Street Scene and Leisure stated she cannot answer at this time if there will be any change to the proposals described at paragraph 2.1 of the report.
Councillor Muldowney queried the current recycling rate.
The Strategic Lead for Waste stated that the recycling rate for last quarter was 32.2 % and nothing went to landfill.
Councillor Arnold questioned if there will be random drug and alcohol testing.
The Assistant Director of Street Scene and Leisure responded that the drug and alcohol policy is a recent policy and she doesn’t know if it goes as far as random drug testing. If there is evidence and they are able to pointed in the right direction they will investigate.
The Assistant Director for Enforcement and Community Safety added that his team would be interested in taking forward the complaint Councillor Byrne raised earlier in the meeting. He is also new to the role and therefore does not have detailed knowledge of the new policy yet however testing falls under three categories completely random, intelligence led or incident led.
Councillor Muldowney queried if brown bins will be collected again in Spring.
The Strategic Lead for Waste responded that Monday will be the start of week 1. This is with the caveat that they do not have high levels of sickness or van breakdown. It is a work in progress. The Strategic Lead for Waste highlighted that she is nervous about service delivery but it is the number one priority to make sure there is another staff to run the service.
Councillor Muldowney agreed it was right not to over promise given the service history.
The Chair commented that the Strategic Lead for Waste and the new Assistant Director for Street Scene and Leisure had made a good start and wished them luck. She highlighted that the service needs to get better and communication to residents.
1.1 It is recommended that Cleaner Greener Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee note the content of the report.