No quick fix for waste collection problems

No quick fix for waste collection problems

Monday 21 June – Delays and disruption to waste collections are likely continue for some time, Somerset Waste Partnership said today (21 June).

SWP and its collections contractor SUEZ apologise and are asking for the public to be patient, warning that there is “no quick fix” in the face of an escalating nationwide shortage of truck drivers.

SWP is responsible for more than 350,000 collections every week, the vast majority of which have gone smoothly despite the pandemic.

But in recent weeks staffing shortages have caused significant delays to some recycling and garden waste collections.

Recycling collections missed from last week will be picked up on this week’s scheduled collection day, not before.

Crews will return as soon as possible for any collections missed this week, within two days if they can.

SWP is monitoring collections closely and will consider further steps if needed.

Residents can help ease the pressure by:

  • Doing as much as possible online – use the My Waste Services feature on the SWP homepage to order replacement containers, report a missed collection, request an assisted collection etc.
  • Only reporting a missed collection if it is urgent – crews will be back as soon as they can.
  • Crushing, squashing and flattening waste if it is safe to do so – this saves space and speeds up collections.
  • Making use of recycling sites – if a collection is delayed but waste really needs to be disposed of.

Covid-19 has worsened the well-documented national shortage of LGV drivers by delaying the training and testing of new recruits.

At the same time, the UK has seen a significant number of EU drivers leave and the recent reopening of non-essential retail has added to the demand for drivers.

The Road Haulage Association said the current situation is of “catastrophic proportions”.

With lots of distribution centres in the county, driver recruitment is especially difficult in Somerset – as is recruitment of collection crews and securing a reliable supply of agency cover when needed.

SWP Managing Director, Mickey Green, said: “We know we’re not where we need to be, but there’s no quick fix.

“We apologise and are working hard to get things back of track, please bear with us.

“It’s frustrating, but let’s not forget that these crews are key workers who have worked non-stop through a pandemic that has increased loads by about 20%.

“A lot of people have worked long hours to make sure waste is collected. It’s very difficult at the moment and we appreciate your patience.”

Updates on collections can be found on the SWP website, however full details are often not known until late into the afternoon or evening.

Qualified HGV drivers, including anyone recently retired, are urged to consider driver and crew vacancies in Bridgwater, Evercreech, and Taunton.

SUEZ is working hard to retain, recruit and train drivers, including substantial advertising, a “refer a friend” scheme and approaching ex-Forces networks.

Driver/loader and loader vacancy details: www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/job2021

Please check SWP’s website for updates at somersetwaste.gov.uk.