Recycling staff to face holiday embargo as collection rates ‘improve’

Recycling vehicle

Recycling vehicle - Credit: Archant

The number of complaints about missed recycling and waste collections has dropped significantly, North Somerset Council has said.

Route changes, staffing issues and more have seen Biffa struggle to cope with picking up waste across the district in recent months.

The firm has apologised in recent weeks for its poor record, but council staff are confident signs of improvements are there to see.

They believe most rubbish collections are now made on the correct day.

Biffa, which took on the authority’s £7million waste contract in April last year, has been fined more than 500 times for ‘poor service delivery’ between last September and August this year.

But during a meeting on October 9 of the community and corporate organisation policy and scrutiny panel it was revealed the number of complaints about the service had ‘dropped significantly’.

The panel was also told that Biffa had ‘put additional resources’ on some of the more problematic routes to help manage collections.

Most Read

Colin Russell, recycling and waste service manager for the council, told the panel for the past three weeks every route has been completed by the end of the week, and that ‘most days’ were being completed as well.

But Mr Russell added: “Christmas brings its own challenges, such as a 100 per cent increase in recycling, and we are already preparing for that period.

“And then we could have potentially bad weather for a few months after that, like we did this year.”

In preparing for Christmas, Hugo Jacobs, from Biffa, told the panel the firm would be enforcing a holiday embargo from December 27 to mid-January.

The firm has also decided to suspend garden waste collections for the three-week period after Christmas to allow crews to catch up.

However, Cllr Ann Harley warned the holiday embargo could result in ‘a few sickies’ by staff.

During the meeting last week, Mr Russell said following the upcoming festive and weather challenges the focus would be an education campaign on recycling so the public knows what can and cannot be recycled and which box to put it in.

He said the difference in time for crews to clear a well-separated box and a jumbled box could be between 20 seconds and two minutes.