As a provider of services for commercial businesses, we don’t operate in the same cash-strapped environment as local councils collecting from domestic bins. However, we can’t ignore that fact that households are suffering up and down the country as authorities try to make tighter budgets go as far as possible.
Both commercial and council-domestic waste collections are carried out on meticulously planned routes that ensure that bins are emptied quickly, efficiently and with the minimum fuss possible. However, as the council-domestic sector comes under greater and greater pressures as local authorities are forced to rationalise budgets, collection routes have had to be re-thought, making the routes longer and – there’s no doubt about it – bin collection operators work longer and harder than ever.
It seems that no locality is immune. We ourselves have seen our collection day switch from Wednesday to Friday, but the truth of the matter is that our local authority is now running fewer collection routes and making their existing staff work harder to get all the bins emptied. It’s not going entirely to plan – one council-owned truck went out of service and the whole plan lay in ruins within the first week.
Up and down the country, we’re hearing the same stories of councils working to ever tighter deadlines on ever longer routes, and the service, as you’d expect, is suffering.
Brighton –for example – has been forced to apologise after changes to round meant whole streets getting missed for days at a time. Changes meant to improve efficiency resulted in up to 60 streets with uncollected waste, and dozens of annoyed residents.
In Lincolnshire, one council is axing “brown bin” garden waste collections for the next few months in order to save £50,000, citing “significant budgetary challenges to face”.
And in Liverpool, weekly bin collections for 100,000 homes will be switched from weekly to fortnightly in a bid to save up to £1m every year. The council say that the cut in weekly general waste collections is possible due to a sharp increase in recycling, and comes at a time when the city needs to find over £150m in savings by 2017.
However, don’t blame the collection staff! They’re trying their best at the orders of the councils and officials that pay their wages.
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