Cheshire East Council (CEC) commissioned a Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) review, which sought to examine its Network against best practice and the Council’s own Municipal Waste Management Strategy objectives. Resource Futures considered financial and operational improvements. This involved a spatial analysis of the nine sites to identify the appropriate number of sites and if they are in the most appropriate locations. The project also involved modelling the financial savings associated with a variety of operational and policy changes that officers could use as a basis for consultation with Members and the public.
The objectives were to:
- Review the HWRC network in line with CEC’s Waste Strategy to 2030.
- Determine whether the network was using industry best practice.
- Provide CEC with a minimum of three options that will enhance the service associated with management and operation of its HWRCs, ensuring all legislative and constitutional obligations are met.
- Benchmark how the current HWRC service compares with comparable local authorities.
Benchmark cost effectiveness and commerciality of the current contract with comparable authorities to provide an understanding of the market place and comparable service costs of similar authorities.
In 2014, Cheshire East Council (CEC) published a Municipal Waste Management Strategy, identifying how they plan to manage waste up to 2030. Our work sought to examine the HWRC service against best practice and Waste Management Strategy objectives.
The team used residential postcode data and HWRC locations in a bespoke GIS model to identify the travel distance and drive time for each household to each HWRC. Maps were produced to illustrate the overlap and gaps in HWRC provision within the area.
The financial savings of full and partial site closure, reduced opening hours, charging for DIY type waste, charging to accept trade waste, adding re-use activity and resident permits were also all modelled for each site, and for different network configurations.
Taking account of the spatial analysis and the financial savings associated with the operational changes above, scenarios were identified that involved various combinations of operational and policy changes to produce the desired financial savings.
The impact on the recycling rate and tonnage throughput for each site was also modelled. This changed depending on the scenario and therefore consideration was given to whether the HWRCs could accommodate additional tonnage and site visitors.
We examined the service provision against best practice and CEC strategy objectives. Provision of HWRCs is a statutory duty but there is no mandatory minimum provision. The review identified a potential over provision of sites with options for a phased closure and reconstruction of sites in central and northern Cheshire East. It also suggested that CEC could consider a more commercial approach to operating, potentially opening key sites for trade waste or charging for some items such as rubble. In addition, there is a need to focus efforts on reuse of waste in addition to recycling with the potential opening of reuse shops on key sites in partnership with the charitable sector.
The options identified and modelled where included in a public consultation managed by CEC which highlighted their preferred option and the reason changes needed to made. As a result of the consultation, operational changes, reduced opening hours and site closure were implemented, resulting in financial savings to the Council. Of particular significance is a 90% reduction in rubble throughput as a result of charges. Members and the public have been generally supportive of the changes and there have been very few complaints and no increase in flytipping incidents attributed to the changes.