Waste management services offer council opportunity for service improvements and savings

Craven District Council identifies waste management service as offering potential for customer service improvements and efficiencies. This case study forms part of our productivity experts resource.

Efficiency and income generation

The LGA’s Expert Programme has highlighted the good progress already made by the council in delivering efficiencies whilst also providing it with a robust programme of activity to deliver even greater savings and customer service improvements over the next two years. 

Paul Ellis, Director of Services, Craven District Council


Craven council has already experienced challenging financial times for a number of years and has to recover a budget deficit by saving in excess of £2.5m (a third of its revenue budget) since 2008/09. This has included significant reshaping of the organisation, downsizing of management and staff and exploring new ways of delivering services. Waste Management has been subject to much change as a result with the introduction of alternate weekly waste collections, a commercial recycling service, garden waste subscriptions and an expansion of curbside recycling all contributing to the council's overall savings requirements. With savings still required the council has to look even harder for efficiency savings and it has identified its Waste Management Service as offering the potential for further customer service improvements and efficiencies. As a result it has set an objective of exploring the possibility of operating the service at a financial break- even point by April 2015.

Expert activity

The expert engaged by the council was able to bring in a raft of best practice experience from local authority waste management services across the country and use it to analyse the council's current performance, policies and procedures. The expert also met with staff at all levels within the organisation to discuss their ideas for efficiency savings and test various cost saving scenarios.

His review led to the production of a modernisation report with the following recommendations which are all being taken forward.

  • Shift working offers savings and should be explored with the workforce.
  • There should be an annual review of households receiving an assisted collection with proof required to demonstrate an assisted collection is justified. A disclaimer is already signed but this should be followed up with a site visit as confirmation.
  • There should be an annual review of those householders that have larger capacity wheeled bins.
  • Any second and subsequent bins should be charged at £36 annually. This approach should be explored for excess waste with a rent a bin annual charge.  A market research and customer satisfaction survey should be carried out on the commercial waste service.  The commercial waste service should have a route and shift review carried out to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
  • A bring-to-site licence should be introduced and could be issued to commercial properties to increase paper and cardboard recycling.
  • The garden waste service should have a route and shift review carried out to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
  • The garden waste service can be set up as a standalone service over the 8 and a half months it operates.
  • The garden waste service could be operated using an annualised hours working agreement.
  • The garden waste service is not a statutory service and a sale of this service could be considered.
  • The bulky waste service struggles to cover its direct costs and a transfer to the third sector should be considered at no cost to the council. This would release resources for recycling expansion.
  • The commercial waste service is not a statutory service and could be rented/leased with monetary receipts used to expand the recycling service.

Management and administration support

  • Bringing together the management administration and operations will introduce service efficiencies and savings
  • A move of the management administration to the depot will shorten communication paths and increase efficiency.
  • There are a number of different structure options that offer savings if introduced – see examples in section 5 of this report.
  • A depot manager position should be created to control and oversee all the services at Engine Shed Lane Depot.

Vehicle Management

  • The workshop staff are fully utilised with the existing levels of plant and equipment, however, there is a significant level of unproductive time.
  • Discussions with other public services, Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade should be entered into to assess the possibility of offering workshop services to these other public services.
  • The O-Licence holder on site should be either the waste and recycling manager or the depot manager.
  • Better staff utilisation can be obtained by offering cheaper MOTs in the afternoons which can be carried out by existing staff.

Round Routing System

  • The Route Optimisation project was started in 2012 and was terminated in May 2013 due to information difficulties. With RCV’s obtaining 3-4mpg, this project should be restarted to ensure efficiencies are maximised and fuel costs minimised.

Recycling Arrangements

  • There is the potential for savings in the service by changing the existing working patterns to a shift pattern.
  • Moving to a shift pattern allows negotiations on the flexibility allowance.
  • A route review should be carried out with the aim of balancing resources with service needs.
  • The released resources can be utilised in the introduction of a trial weekly recycling service in an urban area.

Cost savings

Working towards a cost neutral service will be a mixture of efficiencies, cost savings and increasing revenues.


Service working arrangements Shift working £84,876
  Commercial service Vehicle £20,200
  Staff £30,470
Management and admin support Restructure £45,662
  Fuel £5,000



Commercial service New customers (10) £10,000
  Licence sales £1,000
Vehicle maintenance New clients MOT’s £1,000
Recycling (1% increase) Increased income £ 15,000


The expert has identified cost savings of £186,208 and income potential of £27,000 to March 2015.

Impact and outcomes

The project allowed a root and branch review of the council's waste management service to be undertaken and revealed a number of areas where improvements could be made to generate efficiencies.

Of particular note are recommendations to transform the existing task and finish working practices and to facilitate a more business focussed approach to the Council Garden and Commercial Waste services, generating increased incomes.

The project also identified that street cleansing was a poor relation to refuse collections and that a proportion of any additional income or efficiency savings should be re-invested back into this area, improving the quality of service to customers, the Council’s reputation and potentially attract even greater custom to the service.


Paul Ellis
Director of Services
Craven District Council

Productivity Expert Programme manager
Local Government Association (LGA)