Council services by letter

Agenda item


Technology in waste collections

Report of the Corporate Director Community


The Committee received a report of the Corporate Director Community which set out an overview of the waste technology currently utilised as part of the waste and recycling collection service operating within Harrow.


Members asked the following questions and officers provided the following responses:


·                     What was the rate of contamination of dry recycling?


An officer advised that for Harrow, this figure was between 9-10%, whereas the industry average was 15%.


·                     Was the Bartec waste collector system compatible with the Council’s other packages such as SAP, CRM and CCP?


The officer stated that Bartec had first been introduced in 2009. It was possible to upload real-time information via CRM (which meant back office staff could access this immediately), as well as link this data into the Council website.  It was therefore not necessary to use SAP


·                     How was data collected by the waste teams?  Was it input manually?  Were Harrow’s refuse bins micro chipped?


The officer advised that the LLPG (Local Land and Property Gazetteer) data set was updated regularly.  Harrow’s bins were not chipped and data was entered manually into the system by the waste teams, who reported incidents by exception rather than by property.  Therefore, if there were no issues on a particular street, the entire street could be closed off on the system.


·                     Were there any savings associated with the new fleet of waste trucks?


The officer stated that in line with the Mayor of London’s Environment Strategy, the new vehicles complied with emissions standards required by the Euro 6 standard.  She added that Harrow was ahead of other London Authorities in this area.  Additionally, vehicles in the old fleet which had been on lease, often broke down and were more expensive to maintain.  The new fleet of vehicles was Council-owned and there were procurement savings associated with its purchase.  There had been some teething problems while the new system was embedded, nevertheless, the crews had been well trained and were happy with the new fleet as they found it simpler and quicker to resolve any issues.


·                     Why were some of the new vehicles white without any Council branding?


The officer advised that the unbranded, white vehicles were interim use for the period between the ending of the previous contract and the acquisition of the new vehicles.  The new fleet would be branded.


·                     What was the cost benefit of the new route optimisation technology?  This information should have been included in the officer report.


The officer stated that the Bartec system had been in place since 2009.  The new system enable more immediate reporting and response.  It would be difficult to quantify the cost benefit of this.


·                     What savings had been made under the new contract?  He gave the example of a resident who owned two brown bins, and had paid for both to be collected, however, only if the bins had the necessary sticker to indicate it should be collected.  Nevertheless, waste crews had collected both bins for several months before they realised their error – how had this been possible?


The officer advised that the new fleet had been in place since January 2019.  Previous to this, vehicles regularly broke down and crews were obliged to used manual sheets which could have contributed to the above situation.  Since the introduction of the new fleet and additional training for the crews, the entire processes had been finely tuned.  Although, some of the interim vehicles continued to be paper-based, the new fleet was fully automated.


·                     Which member of a team would typically input the data into the Bartec?


The officer stated that this was the driver’s role.  She encouraged Members to take part in a ride-along with one of the waste crews in order to gain a better understanding of the process.


·                     What contingency was there for technical failure of the system?  What were the processes to be followed in such cases?


The officer stated that paper copies of routes were available in case of a systems crash.  The crews were very familiar with their routes and would manage to complete routes successfully.  She confirmed that to date there had been no complete crashes. 


·                     Was it the case that residents could now report missed bins for up to 48 hours after the event?


The officer advised that this had been implemented following a review.


·                     What provision was there for elderly or disabled residents who could not put their bins out for collection?


The officer stated that those residents could request an Assisted Collection, which would be collected by the crews.


·                     What about the issue of bins with unclosed lids?


The officer stated that the policy was that bins with raised lids would not be collected and this was communicated to residents.  This was because lids that were not fully closed could lead to spillages, could get caught in the lift mechanism of the waste trucks and break off and thereby cause damage to the vehicles as well as give rise to health and safety issues.  Nevertheless, crews had some discretion in this area.


·                     Some residents were not online and preferred to contact the Council by telephone or in person.  With regard to those residents who had not renewed their brown bin contracts, would the waste crews be able to flag these individuals up so that they could be followed up?


The officer stated that those residents who had contracted in to the garden waste service were sent either an email or postal reminder to renew their contracts in January each year.  She added that it was also possible to sign up to the service online, at the one-stop-shops as well as at the kiosks.


·                     How were flats managed on the system?


The officer stated that the data for blocks of flats could take longer to input into the system.


·                     Had an equalities impact assessment been undertaken prior to the implementation of the Bartec system?


The officer advised that the system had been implemented in 2009 and she had been unable to find whether an Eqia had been undertaken.


·                     What feedback had been received from the crews with regard to the new reporting system?


The officer stated that crews had greater confidence in what they reported, with only genuine missed collections being entered into the system.


RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

Supporting documents: