North Lincolnshire Council - Reviewing Household & Trade Waste Collection

A comprehensive efficiency review of waste services in North Lincolnshire. This case study forms part of our productivity experts resource.

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A comprehensive efficiency review of waste services in North Lincolnshire to gather intelligence on waste operations, household recycling centres, waste disposal, back office systems and processes, data collection and analysis, and produce an options appraisal setting out options to:

  • improve service performance
  • reduce costs
  • reduce tonnages
  • increase recycling

A review of operational waste services was implemented in October 2016. The review proposals were designed to deal with changes to waste collection and disposal following the opening of a new Waste Transfer Station and the introduction of a 4 day working week over 36 hours. The LGA assignment assessed these changes to determine whether they are efficient and effective.

Although the council delivers within budget, the waste service area experienced an overspend in 2017/18.

The solution:

The review considered the following key areas and made recommendations to further investigate/take action:

Refuse Collection Services Management and Organisation

A review of the current management arrangements is progressing to rationalise the number of posts and their respective duties. This will also provide an opportunity to consider further, a shift in culture within the whole service.

The constraints of the depot layout with two buildings is not conducive to the culture change that is required. Some changes to the layout would create a better feeling of inclusivity. This may in turn produce a better environment to facilitate the operational changes required to improve output and performance. Subject to capital funding, there is scope to transfer all waste operations to the Transfer Station site freeing up the Depot.

A new integrated role dealing with education and frontline customer engagement will replace the existing Waste Recycling Services Officers to enable a focus on public awareness and participation campaigns in order to reduce demand on services and move up the waste hierarchy. The selling of trade waste collection contracts will be prioritised and staff will receive development to enable them to improve their success.

Residual Waste Collection Service

A review of the key drivers for the implementation of the four-day week will be undertaken to focus on the number of vehicle loads per day. Introduction of the four-day week in theory should have provided an extra load per day and delivered up to 20% efficiency improvements.

The modernisation programme is looking at improving performance from its current average of 925 bins per round to an average of 1200 bins per round. The council will consider potential incentives for the workforce to encourage round optimisation. Other possibilities being considered to help the crews deliver a higher performance include an earlier start time if they believe this will deliver service improvements.  In waste, there is a maxim that every hour before 8am is worth two after, as roads are clearer. If the first load can be completed before the school run and peak rush hour, vehicles can be heading to the transfer station rather than being slowed down by traffic blocking collections. 

Waste Demand Management is a corporate transformation strand, led by the Director of Operations. Consideration is being given to a number of policy changes including eligibility criteria for larger (360L) bins.

Recycling Collection Services

North Lincolnshire is unusual in that it operates three kerbside recycling collection services. There is an in-house wheeled bin collection of cardboard and plastics. An in house wheeled bin collection of garden waste and an external contract to collect paper, cans and glass via a box.

Although this produces high quality recyclates it is also recognised as one of the most expensive ways of collecting waste. It is proposed to review current service delivery in the medium term.  

Trade Waste Collection Services

The review confirmed that our Trade Waste Service is viable and new business should be pursued. Further insight on collected tonnages has been obtained from a hire vehicle with bin weighing equipment. This insight will ensure that we target additional business in a way that supports manageable growth and supports our priority of financial sustainability.

A review of the charging policy has been undertaken and implemented.

Training for trade waste staff to improve their sales and marketing techniques will be organised to build on the financial acumen of staff.

Environmental Health Officers are also directing potential customers to the trade waste service following shop or business inspections, where appropriate to do so. 

To facilitate growth, a review of the crew levels on trade waste rounds is being undertaken, ensuring health and safety risks are mitigated. Rounds are being optimised and customers moved to support the waste hierarchy.

Household Recycling Centre Provision

An analysis of the opportunities for introducing compactors onto HRC sites in order to improve storage levels and cost will be undertaken to better understand cost reduction opportunities from the reduction in skip movements.

The impact (including cost savings/income generated if applicable):

The following efficiencies /income generation are proposed:






Staffing Review





Review of waste & Recycling Collection Service





Trade Waste





How is the new approach being sustained?

The approach will be sustained by a combination of:

  • Management challenge and review
  • Culture change programme to re-engage the workforce
  • Contract review
  • Improved focus on demand management, education and enforcement
  • Policy review  

Lessons learned:

  • The current staffing structure is overcomplicated and needs review.
  • In undertaking a review of waste services, any new arrangements must be integrated and consider the cost from collection to final disposal including storage and transportation. Integrated unit costs will support evidence based robust decision making.
  • Waste is sometimes double handled and costs of transport are high.
  • Trade waste services can and should make a significant return for the council and the service offers a commercial growth opportunity.
  • There is a strong argument to consider moving all of the waste operation services to the transfer station as it would reduce traffic movements and make better use of space.
  • Regular checks of HGV drivers continued competency should take priority to manage risks.
  • The culture of the service needs to change to re-engage with the workforce.
  • The policy on large bins should be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
  • The policy on providing free additional collections for social landlords should be reviewed.
  • Review the policy to collect cash at HRC sites.

Contact: [email protected]

LGA contact: [email protected]