Agenda item

Waste and Recycling Contract

To receive a verbal update on the current status of the Waste and Recycling Contract and consider any related recommendations.


Gary Stevenson, Head of Housing, Health and Environment, provided a verbal report on the status of the Waste and Recycling Contract.


Discussion included:

·         The contract performance was unsatisfactory.

·         Contracts should be for shorter periods.

·         An in-house service would allow direct management of problems.

·         The council would need to gear up for a full procurement and recruitment process in order to demonstrate the seriousness of bringing the service in-house.

·         The council had strong legal advice that Covid-19 would not be a valid claim of force-majeure and therefore the contractor had no legal mechanism to end the contract.

·         The service was provided in partnership with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and any changes would need to be made in agreement.

·         Re-provisioning the service would likely take 2-3 years and not address the fundamental problem of a lack of drivers.

·         The last minute suspension of the garden waste service was regrettable but necessary to support critical waste collections.

·         In-house provision was not a cure-all. Canterbury had similar problems and the situation had gotten worse.

·         Personalised updated through the e-newsletters was welcome.

·         The Council closely monitored service levels and worked with the contractor where trends were identified.

·         The Portfolio Holder and senior officers constantly reassessed the situation and were considering all options.

·         Significant changes within the contract period would be costly and at the Council expense.

·         The contact was due to expire in 2027.

·         There were no viable alternatives at this time.

·         The contract was competitively priced and performing reasonably well given the difficulties which were outside the control of the contractor.

·         The contract had been under-priced from the start.

·         Tendering had been weighted to much towards costs and not enough to quality.

·         Financial penalties had been levied on the contractor, the same as in Tonbridge and Malling. The council was only penalising the contractor for failures in the quality of service, not for issues outside their control.

·         The contract was delivering increased quantities of recycling.

·         The contract was managed through an initial notice of rectification or “yellow card” which allowed the contract to respond. Further fail would lead to a notice of default or “red card” which included financial penalties. Cards were issued for either a significant occurrence or an accumulation of minor instances.

·         The contractor had less than half the required number of drivers with significant losses of drivers to other industries and a large number of staff required to self-isolate.

·         Carbon emissions had not been a significant consideration at the time the contract was granted with particulate pollution being the major concern. Carbon emissions would factor when the contract was re-tendered.

·         New electric vehicles were being trialled but current prototypes were expensive and there was no information on their long-tern reliability.

·         Further scrutiny of the issue was required with involvement of contractor and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.

·         Issues would likely continue until Covid-19 and driver shortage abated.

·         Garden waste could be taken to the Household Waste and Recycling Centre. Vehicles would need to be unloaded by the householder. Those unable to do so could ask for assistance, compost at home or store within their garden until the service resumes.

·         The garden waste service was not charged as part of the waste contract. Costs of the suspension would be borne by the council.


RESOLVED – That the verbal update be noted.

Supporting documents: