Getting refuse collections back on-track after bad weather

Whether it’s high winds or heavy snow, poor weather can easily disrupt daily life. But while it’s only a minor inconvenience for the general public, the impact of difficult conditions can affect local authority services for weeks to come.

The recent snowfall across much of the UK is a classic example of this. Many roads were impassable, despite being gritted, which meant essential services ground to a halt. Waste management teams were unable to carry out their usual refuse collections and are still playing catch up over a week later.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you may be wondering how to minimise the impact that future climatic disruption has on your municipal waste management services. Here are some of our expert tips for getting back on track after bad weather…

Respond to road conditions

While poor weather sometimes mean that infrastructural services have to be cancelled altogether, you may find that extreme conditions only affect certain parts of your local area. If this is the case, press on with the waste collections that can be made, so that you’re only losing ground on a fraction of your usual route.

Then, as the climate begins to improve, focus on getting to one or two streets as soon as they are passable. This will enable you to tackle the backlog a little at a time, until you are fully up and running again, rather than letting rubbish mount up.

Communicate clearly to residents

One of the big impacts that bad weather has on waste management is confusion over what type of refuse is being collected. Many local authorities alternative between recycling and general waste each week, and a missed round can result in the wrong type of rubbish being put out by residents.

If this happens in your area, use the digital tools at your disposal to educate households on which collection you’ll be catching up on first. Many residents have access to an online portal where they can manage council services, and social media is also a very powerful tool for providing real-time updates.

You can also use social media channels to inform people exactly when and where refuse collections will resume, if you’re staggering activities while some parts of the neighbourhood are worse affected.

Plan partial availability productively

It’s not just road conditions that upset waste management services; availability of staff can also have a hugely disruptive impact. If your team is based across a wide geographical area, chances are that some of them will be unable to get into work when conditions deteriorate. This is where dynamic planning comes into play.

Even if you only have a skeleton workforce available, assign passable routes to the staff that are present so you don’t get completely behind on refuse collections. There are always tasks to be completed, and responding intelligently to the level of resource available will maximise productivity in difficult conditions.

Find the right tools to overcome setbacks

Some of the responses we’ve discussed here may seem daunting if you’re co-ordinating municipal waste management manually or using out-of-date systems. A good technology platform, meanwhile, allows you to adapt much quicker and easier to difficult conditions.

You can’t control the weather but, with the right software, you can control how you respond to it – in order to lessen any adverse effects. Solutions like Whitespace Municipal Waste Management enable you to plan and change refuse collection routes in real-time, accommodating unavoidable interruptions.

Equally, with our software you can develop and print round sheets on-the-fly, and even provide instructions to refuse collection crews as you go – so you’re always making productive decisions, even when the odds aren’t stacked in your favour.

With these dynamic capabilities in place, the next time bad weather comes along it’s unlikely to stop play altogether. Instead, a waste management platform gives you the power to regroup and plan a response that minimises long-term damage.

Whitespace Municipal Waste Management has already helped more than 100 local authorities and contractors cut the time and cost of refuse collections. To save money for your team book a free demonstration.


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