This report provides an update on the activity carried out by the following contractors to Medway Council for the contract year October 2018 to September 2019 and end of contract report for the total contract term for Waste collection and street cleansing services September 2010 - October 2019:
Veolia Environmental Services - providing waste recycling collection, and street cleansing services and waste disposal.
Medway Norse – Management of HWRCs
The Committee received a comprehensive report and the Head of Environmental Services provided an update on the activities carried out by Veolia Environmental Services on the provision of waste and recycling collection, waste disposal and street cleansing services and Medway Norse providing management of the three household waste recycling centres for the contract year October 2018 – September 2019.
The Head of Environmental Services paid tribute to Veolia for their performance on the Waste Contact for the past 9 years.
The Head of Environmental Services drew attention to the changes introduced by Kent County Council in the past year at their household waste recycling centres which had resulted in Medway introducing a checking system to protect free use of Medway’s sites for Medway residents. She advised that a reclaim system had been introduced for Kent residents but there had been not been a significant increase in KCC tonnages.
Andy Mann, Partnership Director from Medway NORSE attended the meeting to answer questions.
The Committee discussed the following issues:
· Waste and recycling collections - The Committee discussed the achievements arising from the Veolia waste and recycling contract and in particular the introduction of weekly recycling collections during the contract period which had been welcomed. Reference was made to the previous problems experienced with a Christmas/New Year collection, but it was acknowledged that these issues had now been resolved and collections in the 2019/2020 Christmas/New Year period had worked well.
· Recycling tonnages – The Committee discussed the recycling rates over the term of Veolia’s 9-year contract and concern was expressed that the recycling tonnage rate was not increasing and was 3.3% lower than in 2014/15. In response, the Head of Environmental Services advised that the inability to increase recycling tonnage rates was a national problem. She advised that when weekly recycling collections were introduced in 2014/15, this had temporarily increased the recycling rate but this has since plateaued.
She assured the Committee that the benefits of recycling and the different types of collection services were actively publicised on social media and there had been an increase in requests for more recycling containers and services since the COVID – 19 lockdown had been introduced in March 2020. This would be reflected in the 2020/21 Waste Contract review report.
· Employment of staff – In response a question as to whether Medway NORSE would continue to employ staff directly as opposed to using employment agencies, Andy Mann from Medway NORSE advised that all staff had transferred from Veolia to Medway NORSE under TUPE and therefore were on the same terms and conditions, and whilst Medway NORSE recruited staff via employment agencies they were then transferred into full time employment direct with the Company. He confirmed that since taking over the contract, Medway NORSE had recruited an additional 24 members of staff.
· Waste Management Strategy – In response to a question about the Waste Strategy 2005 – 2020, the Head of Environmental Services advised that there was not a statutory duty for the Council to produce a Waste Strategy but there was a statutory duty to have a Recycling Plan. This was currently in the process of being drawn up and would include an investigation of all possible initiatives for recycling and would be reported to the Committee at a future date.
· Depot facilities – The Head of Environmental Services advised that Veolia had retained use of its depot at George Summers Close and Medway NORSE’s recycling fleet were currently operating from a depot at Pier Approach Road.
· Challenge Fund 2012 – In response to a question concerning funding received from the Challenge Fund 2012 which aimed to encourage local authorities to reinstate or retain weekly residual rubbish collections, the Head of Environmental Services advised that this was a one-off funding stream, but she confirmed that bids would be submitted if further funding was made available.
· Recycling containers located in car parks – It was identified that a number of recycling containers located in car parks across Medway advertised a weblink that was out of date. The Head of Environmental Services agreed to investigate this as soon as possible.
· Veolia Environmental Trust – In response to a question as to whether Medway NORSE would be taking up a charitable cause such as Veolia’s Environmental Trust, the Head of Environmental Services advised that this particular Environmental Trust belonged to Veolia and therefore it would not be appropriate for Medway NORSE to provide funding to the Trust.
· Carbon footprint – The Head of Environmental Services advised that climate change had been included within her remit from April 2020, and she confirmed that the issue of climate change and carbon footprint would be included in the 2020/21 Waste Review report.
· Recycling targets at household waste centres – In response to a question, the Head of Environmental Services confirmed that there were no financial penalties for not reaching recycling targets at household recycling centres. However, she confirmed that in the past year, officers had successfully achieved a recycling market for mattresses. Unfortunately, there was no longer a market for the disposal of rigid plastics. When using the household waste recycling centres, people were discouraged from using black sacks so that rubbish could be separated at the site. The Head of Environmental Services confirmed that there were multiple markets available for recycling products but commented that during the COVID – 19 pandemic, many of these had temporarily closed.
· Recycling of paint, oil and solvents - In response to questions, the Head of Environmental Services confirmed that whilst the household waste recycling centres all accepted engine and cooking oils, unfortunately, there was not currently a market for recycling paints. This was an area of recycling that was being investigated to establish whether there were opportunities for recycling paints via community painting schemes.
· Risk management – In response to a question as to the validity of the risk management categories set out in paragraph 5 of the report having regard to the current COVID – 19 pandemic, the Head of Environmental Services stated that as the report covered the period October 2018 – September 2019, the risk categories were correct. However, in the light of recent circumstances these would be reviewed for the 2020/21 report.
The Head of Environmental Services also reported that during the pandemic, whilst the Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres had been required to temporarily close, they had remained open for longer than many other local authority sites and prompt action to introduce a pre-booking system had enabled the sites to re-open at the earliest opportunity.
· Date of annual scrutiny of the Waste Contracts – The Head of Environmental Services acknowledged that this report reviewing the Waste Contracts was nine months after the end of the contract period and suggested that the timing of this report be considered when the Committee considers its work programme for 2020/21.
a) noted the contents of the report including the annual Service Reports set out at Appendices 1 and 2 of the report.
b) noted that the draft Recycling Plan would be submitted to this Committee at a future date for consideration.
c) noted that consideration would be given to the timing of the Annual Review of the Waste Contracts report when considering the work programme.