Waste treatment technical support to Buckinghamshire Council

Resource Futures has been the retained technical adviser to Buckinghamshire Council for waste and recycling service delivery, waste infrastructure and procurement projects. We have been providing support on these issues for the Council since 2017.

Objectives

The aim of our work with Buckinghamshire Council is to provide high quality technical expertise to enable informed decision-making on a range of waste services issues, including a Household Recycling Centre efficiency review, procurement support and the planning, design and build of new waste treatment infrastructure.

The areas of support provided since 2017 include:

  • Household Recycling Centre (HRC) efficiency review
  • Technical support for the Extended Producer Responsibility consultations
  • Guidance on the transition to a unitary authority
  • Review of waste service delivery configurations and contracts
  • Review of commissioning options for the waste handling and HRC contracts – including in-house, outsourced and TECKAL, considering, in detail, the pros and cons of each option
  • Technical support in the specification of and procurement process for the Household Recycling Centre contract and the treatment of garden, food, bulky and wood waste contract

Technical and project management support for the development of the High Heavens waste site, from planning to the design and build of new waste infrastructure, including a depot, weighbridges, material loading bays and a new food waste transfer building, coordinating a range of engineering consultants.

Approach

Resource Futures provides ongoing support and advice to Buckinghamshire Council on a variety of operational, technical and strategic waste management issues. Over the course of the last five years we have successfully provided technical support to the Council and collaborated with legal consultants, financial modellers, engineering consultancies and designers, plus field-based environmental testing and monitoring firms, as well as a variety of Council departments including waste teams, planning, procurement, legal and financial teams, to successfully guide the Council through a range of high profile technical projects.

As part of the Authority’s drive to improve services and realise financial savings, the first project we undertook was to carry out an operational, environmental and financial review of the HRC network. This included the future need for sites with regards to population, site locations and individual site performance, as well as assessing any future policy changes and how this would impact site provision. Following this initial assessment, we modelled the financial performance of each of the sites and modelled a range of options which would yield savings for the Council, including potential site closures as well as charging for certain DIY types of waste, in line with UK regulations.

Following the review, we managed the desk based site contamination surveys across five HRCs to inform a gap analysis and identify the need for contaminated land surveys. The outcomes of these surveys were used as part of the package of documents supplied to prospective bidders during the HRC procurement process which we also supported the Council in delivering.

In 2019, Buckinghamshire Council wished to contribute to the development of the national Resources and Waste Strategy and the various emerging policies. We provided the evidence and input into their response to the UK Government’s consultation on the DRS options as outlined in the consultation documents. We collated Council data and carried out desk-based research to inform the responses and provide suitable evidence for consultation. The key implications to local authorities included the loss of high value materials, such as plastic bottles and aluminium, from the local authority collections and therefore revenue streams, plus the greater burden on the Authority to continue to provide comprehensive services for the harder to recycle items, such as film and organic waste. We also highlighted interconnections with the other elements of the strategy including the Extended Producer Responsibility  and the consistency in collections consultations taking place concurrently.

“Resource Futures’ knowledge and insight has helped us ensure that the financial and technical elements work as one for the benefit of the client.”

Steve Hazleton, New Networks – Financial advisers

We have also assisted the Authority with technical due diligence support over the years, supporting the Energy from Waste and HRC contract, including providing technical support with contract extension negotiations and providing workshop facilitation in support of this, as well as various stakeholder engagement exercises. We are currently overseeing the installation of new cabins at two HRC sites and borehole investigation work at another HRC site.

One of the most significant parts of the support currently being delivered is the management of the design, planning and implementation of the redevelopment of the Council-owned waste transfer station, the High Heavens Waste Complex. The Complex includes a waste transfer station for food waste, glass bays, wood waste and a bulky waste area with a shredding facility, plus a public-facing Household Recycling Centre. Resource Futures manages and provides the day-to-day support between the Council and the engineering company responsible for the design work. Resource Futures assisted in commissioning the engineering contractor and is now project managing their work, including providing technical support throughout the stages of design, planning and build of the site, alongside assisting with the procurement of the contracts for handling the various material streams brought to site.

We continue to provide extensive technical support in the development and delivery of the procurement of key services provided by the Council as a disposal authority – the treatment of organic waste (food and green waste as well as wood and bulky waste shredding), operational management of the Council-owned transfer station and the management of the network of HRCs, and the resulting material commodities. We provided support in identifying priorities for these key services through facilitating workshops with multiple stakeholders including Buckinghamshire Council departments, ex district collection teams and external legal and financial advisers. We were also responsible for the coordination and technical input into the key procurement documentation (e.g. specifications) and developing technical evaluation criteria and methodologies. We used our experience in local authority contracts, as well as practical operations implication of these contracts, to facilitate the Authority through the tender evaluation process, including Competitive Dialogue and quality assessment of the final tender. We also worked with the legal consultants to ensure that the documents prepared can form a robust basis for the contract.

“Resource Futures has provided invaluable support to the Council.”

Gurbaksh Badhan – Head of Strategic Waste Management and Enforcement

Outcomes

  • Successfully supporting the Council through a range of complex technical projects, each with positive outcomes which have enabled the Council to enact change.
  • The successful award of the HRC operation and Green, Food, Bulky and Wood Waste (GFBW) haulage and treatment contracts. The Council has benefited from the development of fit for purpose contract documentation and fit for purpose infrastructure to last for the next five to 15 years.
  • Planning permission granted for the redevelopment of the High Heavens Waste Complex site. The build element of the project is currently being delivered.

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