Swindon Borough Council media release logo
An independent review of Swindon Borough Council’s waste and recycling service will be carried out to help address systemic issues and improve future capacity and resilience.

The decision has been taken as the Council hires more vehicles and staff to get recycling collections back to normal following the Christmas period.

Last November, the Council implemented the biggest changes to waste and recycling services in 15 years with the rollout of food waste collections across the Borough and a new recycling collection system.

Although the Council remains confident in the new system, its implementation has highlighted where years of local government funding pressures have added to the fragility of the service and affected both capacity and resilience.

The review of the service will examine where more investment is needed in equipment, processes, depot facilities, and staff to avoid a repeat of the recent issues.

In the immediate term, although general refuse is being collected on time, recycling is largely running up to two working days behind schedule, despite the Council utilising considerable additional resource and staff overtime.

The Council has also this week ordered three additional brand-new recycling lorries to add to its fleet to provide extra capacity in the event of a recycling backlog in the future.

Worker recycling bag into lorry.

Residents are being asked to leave their waste out on their normal collection days and the crews will collect it as soon as possible. If adverse weather is forecast, residents are encouraged to weigh down their recycling and wedge their weighted bags between their other containers or, alternatively, take their waste back in until the weather has passed.

Cllr Watts said: “While the new refuse and food waste collection service is largely working to schedule, the new recycling system rollout has proved challenging.

“We have had a fantastic response from residents following the implementation of the Borough-wide food waste service and the changes to the way recycling is collected, but we understand the frustrations over the recent delays as we seek to resolve substantial issues.

“Recent events have highlighted the service, as designed, is too lean and does not have enough capacity to recover when there is any disruption.

“The crews are working incredibly hard to get things back to normal, but trying to keep up with the recycling demand has become a game of snakes and ladders, and it is clear the resource we have at the moment is not sufficient to get us to where we need to be.

“This is why we are bringing in extra temporary waste vehicles and staff to make inroads into outstanding collections in the short-term and have this week ordered three additional brand-new recycling vehicles to give the team that extra capacity which is so needed.

“The changes to waste and recycling were agreed and approved in 2021, well before I came into post last summer, but it is important we learn from these current issues and quickly rectify them for local residents.

“As a result, I have asked for an independent review to be carried out so we can begin the process of optimising the service to make it more resilient. I have already observed there are significant systematic problems which are letting us down and my focus is on fixing these issues so we provide a waste and recycling service that our residents deserve.”