Missed recycling collection rates treble across Brighton and Hove

Missed recycling collection rates have trebled compared with last year and missed rubbish collections more than doubled.

From April last year to March this year, Cityclean missed 1,089 recycling collections per 100,000 in Brighton and Hove.

The council’s rubbish and recycling service was given a target of no more than 303 missed recycling collections per 100,000 – 10 per cent down on the 2018-19 figure.

The statistics do not include bins that were not left out or could not be collected because they were contaminated.

A report going before Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee this week said that covid-19 affected the service towards the end of the 2019-20 financial year.

Recycling collections were suspended for a week in late March and limited collections operated for a further week because collecting rubbish was prioritised over recycling for public health purposes.

However, reports of missed collections during this period still counted towards the final figures.

Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou, chair of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee, said: “The last year has seen a number of issues for Cityclean that have impacted on collections.

“These have included the fire at the Hollingdean Waste Transfer Station, a large number of vehicle breakdowns, staff shortages and now Covid.

“We understand how frustrating missed collections can be, but these issues have now been overcome.

“With staff now returning from self-isolation due to lockdown, a fleet replacement programme underway, improving rounds that are having difficulties and investment in technology, we should see an improvement in the rate of collections.”

Green councillor Pete West said: “The appalling news that a staggering 1,089 per 100,000 recycling bin collections have been missed will sadly come as no surprise to anyone living in Brighton and Hove.

“The sight of an overflowing bin has almost become routine. Worse still, while it’s clear that Covid-19 will have had an impact on the Cityclean service in recent months, this does not explain away the repeated decline in bin collections across the last few years.

“The numbers tell a different story: that despite pledges that Labour councillors would directly ‘oversee the service’, the organisation of one of our most basic services, bin collection, continues to fail.

“We were told previously that missed collections were the result of the fire at the waste transfer facility. Then we were told there were a higher number of vehicle breakdowns. At one point, we were told that warm weather overheating trucks was to blame.

“The problem is, residents have heard it all and have grown tired of assurances that things will improve.

“There is clearly something deeply wrong at Cityclean and we urge the Labour council to do more to ensure residents actually see the rate of collections improve – not just find themselves the recipients of more empty promises.”

The report promises a review to find a solution for “persistent” missed collections.

A round restructure project and improving the service by using technology is expected in a report due in September.

Missed refuse collections were also off target across the city.

Cityclean’s target was a ten per cent improvement on the 2018-19 performance when an average of 171 collections were missed per 100,000.

At the year end, the average was 395 missed collections per 100,000.

The report said: “Responding to the Covid-19 situation has had an impact on missed collections towards the latter part of quarter four (March 2020).

“With a significant number of staff in self-isolation, agency staff have been deployed to cover rounds who are not as familiar with routes.

“Furthermore, social distancing measures have meant rounds are taking longer to complete, resulting in some work not being completed.”

A higher than the average number of vehicle breakdowns and driver shortages also contributed to missed collections earlier in the year.

Conservative councillor Lee Wares said: “For two years Labour has been modernising Cityclean yet over the same period missed refuse collections have risen from 57 per 100,000 homes to 354. That is a 600 per cent increase.

“Labour has claimed that the problems at Cityclean were far greater than was known which in itself is deeply worrying given they have been running the city for the last five years.

“We are told that round restructuring is the solution. Perhaps somebody in the Labour administration needs to stop talking about it and get on with doing it.

“One wonders where the £1 million overspend on agency staff in the last year went.”

Recycling rates have increased slightly in the last year but did not reach the target.

The year’s average was 29.5 per cent of waste, or 22,947 tonnes, going to recycling, composting or anaerobic digestion.

In percentage terms, this is an increase on last year’s 29.2 per cent or 30,030 tonnes out of 102,885 tonnes of household waste.

The council is rolling out more recycling wheelie bins as part of the effort to improve recycling rates.

A recycling leaflet inside council tax bills are proposed, detailing what can and cannot be recycled.

Work is also under way to support introducing a food waste collection trial.

A petition on the council’s website calling for food waste recycling has more than 600 signatures.

It is due to go before the full council on Thursday 22 July.

Missed recycling collections per 100,000 in 2019-20

April to June 444

April to September 992

April to December 852

April to March 1,089

Missed refuse collections per 100,000 in 2019-20

April to June 159

April to September 402

April to December 354

April to May 395