Members of the Leeds City Council Executive Council will discuss a report outlining the operational challenges posed by Covid-19, on the city’s waste management service and the additional resources set aside by the council this year to help raise them.
Over the past 20 months, the city’s waste management department has faced significant challenges in ensuring that the department remains resilient in the face of the continuing pressure of the pandemic, ensuring that the demands of work in all of Covid-19 are respected and that trash cans are always collected. A problem that has been aggravated more recently by the national shortage of LGV drivers.
Despite these challenges, the curbside collection of black and green bins continued throughout the pandemic, with only the start of brown bins collections in 2021 being delayed by a few weeks. The service’s commitment and hard work have been demonstrated by Leeds’ official garbage collection rate, which remains at 99.85% for 2021, down just 0.08% from pre-pandemic levels .
The report, which will be discussed by the council’s executive board next Wednesday at Civic Hall, also describes the significant increase in household waste during the pandemic as people spend more time at home. Stressing that the service has been able to collect 30,000 tonnes of additional waste presented over the past 20 months, including 2,500 tonnes of garden waste more than usual in the city’s brown bins in 2021 alone. This equates to crews emptying an additional 13 million trash cans during the pandemic.
Commenting on the work of the waste management service over the past 20 months, Councilor Mohammed Rafique, executive member of Leeds City Council for Environment and Housing, said:
âI would like to start by expressing my gratitude to all members of the waste management department for their commitment and hard work over the past 20 months. They have kept our city moving, working on the front lines throughout the pandemic, ensuring that city trash continues to be collected despite the challenge of multiple lockdowns and restrictions. “
The persistent logistical challenges posed by the pandemic and the significant increase in the volume of household waste to be collected and disposed of come at a cost. The board has therefore set aside around Â£ 5million this year to ensure the service continues to be able to meet these challenges.
A significant impact causing an increase in the cost of the service is the enormous increase in the volume of household waste. An additional Â£ 2.23million is expected to be needed just to pay for the treatment and disposal of this additional waste, mainly at the Energy Recycling and Recovery Facility (RERF). An additional Â£ 1.03million is needed for the rental and running costs of providing the additional wagons needed to collect the additional waste and to ensure that there are enough spare vehicles to cope with the Covid vehicle cleaning requirements.
While Â£ 1.89million is needed for the cost of providing additional waste handling staff and blanket to deal with the increased volume of waste and to ensure that the service can continue to cover staff who must isolate himself.
Thanks to effective management of the need for additional staff and collaboration with unions, the service was able to prevent any outbreak of Covid-19 in the workplace in the service. A significant achievement for a key frontline service of more than 350 employees, who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
In response to the need for additional resources for the service, adviser Mohammed Rafique, said:
âThe increase in anticipated costs is necessary as we continue to adapt to address the current challenges facing Covid-19. When the service had its initial budget set for the year, it did not include any additional costs related to Covid, and so it was crucial that we give the service the financial support necessary to ensure that it can continue to work throughout. of the pandemic. For the next fiscal year, we will look to include the planned cost of managing and disposing of the additional waste produced by Leeds homes in the initial budget, rather than something we report as an overrun during the year.
To view the full report, go to https://bit.ly/3y9kQCH