Councils must collaborate more to deliver better value in waste

Local authorities need to share best practice and fine-tune services if they are to drive through cost savings effectively in their waste management operations, a report has found.

At a time when central government is urging councils to do “more for less”, the speed of cuts facing public services has raised fears that household waste collection and disposal services will suffer.

A number of recomendations to address this are made in a report by Eunomia Research & Consulting, launched at this year’s RWM exhibition. The study 10 ways to cut the costs of local authority waste collection outlines key action points aimed at helping councils cut costs without impairing recycling performance.

But the consultancy argues that an increasing number of local authorities are already managing to cuts costs while protecting or even improving services. It says that recycling and composting services have changed beyond all recognition since the early 2000s with recycling rates quadrupling between 2000 and 2010 from 10% to 40%.

According to Eunomia, one of the problems is the lessons learned over the past decade have not been widely shared. It says there are great opportunities for local authorities to share good practice and fine-tune services to reduce costs.

The consultancy’s recommendations include making sure the specification of collection services is right; investing in waste prevention; charging for certain services; improving commissioning, including the way contracts are managed; identifying and using the optimal vehicles for collection; and using partnership working to reduce costs.

Eunomia’s director, James Fulford, said: “There is definitely room for optimism. “This is a sector of local government that has delivered huge change in performance over the past 10-15 years.

“The fact that this sector has been sufficiently ambitious and successful in delivering this change is evidence on its own that we are going to be able to rise to meet the challenge of reduced finances.”

Nick Warburton

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