Recycling and waste services to return to council operation

3:02pm - 23 September 2020

North Somerset Council’s recycling and waste services will soon be brought back under local control following a decision made last night by councillors to end the current commercial contract and establish a wholly council-owned company to run the services from April next year.  

A meeting of the Full Council yesterday evening considered options for the future delivery of the services including continuing with the current contract, partnering with another organisation to run the services or running the services using an ‘in-house’ approach.

Having debated the different approaches councillors decided that the option which provided the best solution for residents and the objectives set out in the council's corporate plan was to establish an arm’s length trading company to run the services.

Recycling and waste services include the household kerbside collections and operating the three recycling centres in Weston-super-Mare, Backwell and Portishead. They have been delivered by Biffa since 2017, but discussions between the council and the company led the council to explore the opportunity to terminate the current contract early, by mutual agreement, and establish a new means of delivering and developing the service.

Cllr Bridget Petty, executive member responsible for recycling and waste, said: “It’s really important that our residents have the confidence that the council will continue to provide effective recycling and waste services and that staff, who will transfer over to the new company, will be supported through the transition process.

“We believe that the best way to deliver the quality local service we all need and deserve is to create a local company that has North Somerset at its heart.

“We want an excellent and reliable recycling and waste collection service for our residents and having an external provider has not always given us the flexibility we want to respond to the needs of our area.

“We appreciate and value the staff who work on our collection rounds. Their response during the current pandemic has shown to all our residents that we have a great team of people out there in all weathers doing their best to deliver a reliable service. We’re committed to supporting them to continue to provide a great service to local people.”

Over the coming months, the council will work with current service provider Biffa to ensure a smooth transition to the new operating arrangements under North Somerset Recycling Company which will come into effect by April 2021. 

The council-owned company will be designed to prioritise resident experience and work proactively in neighbourhoods.  

“We want to improve our residents’ experience of the service," added Cllr Petty. “Any profits made by the company will be used to support the council’s priorities and benefit local people.” 

Roger Edwards, Managing Director - Municipal at Biffa, said: “Biffa is pleased that we have reached an agreement with the council regarding the future direction of the contract that is beneficial to all parties. We thank all the North Somerset staff and team for their hard work to deliver a great service to the residents of North Somerset throughout the pandemic. 

"During the coming months we will work to ensure a smooth transition so that both the local team and the residents of North Somerset experience a seamless transfer. Although we will be sad to see valued colleagues leave Biffa, we wish them all well for the future.”

How residents use the service, and the day on which they get their collections, will stay the same for the time being. There will be no immediate changes.