Christmas might be a time for love and laughter, but the season’s aftermath offers far from glad tidings for most local authorities. The sheer volume of rubbish and recycling being put out by households can place waste management processes under a huge strain, and leave operational teams playing catch up long into the New Year.
As the dust settles on the Christmas clean-up operation, now is the time to address how efficiently your team performed. Is there room for improvement? For many government departments, the answer is yes – and here’s what to do about it.
Clearing out after Christmas
One unfortunate consequence of people’s generosity is a massive surge in household waste at Christmas time. Around 88 square kilometres of wrapping paper is used each year – enough to cover the whole of Coventry, according to a charity survey – along with 300,000 tones of cardboard packaging.
Unwanted food also piles up in families’ rubbish bins when the festive period comes to an end. Unilever research has found that Britons throw away the equivalent of 74 million mince pies, five million Christmas puddings and two million turkeys each year, all of which has to be collected and disposed of by local authority teams.
It’s not just the volume of waste challenging councils after Christmas, either. Many households are confused about what materials can or cannot be recycled, or simply don’t bother recycling at all.
A Sky Ocean Rescue study has found that a quarter of the UK population think they’re too busy to recycle plastic at Christmas, while 22% feel they have too much waste to recycle.
On the flip side, some well-meaning families put items out that cannot be recycled. For example, 60% mistakenly try to recycle shiny or glittery wrapping paper, while over a third (37%) put Christmas cards decorated with glitter into their recycling box.
Confronting challenges head-on
For local authorities, Christmas collection chaos presents a number of challenges that must be negotiated to keep your residents happy. Firstly, receptacles tend to be full to overflowing by the time New Year comes around, and this has to be sorted as efficiently as possible.
Secondly, many of the items put out by households cannot actually be recycled, so waste management personnel need to sort through everything on collection – which can potentially slow down their round.
Finally, the day on which Christmas falls can wreak havoc with waste collection. Even if local authorities clearly advertise changes to the usual schedule, some households will forget. This results in more rubbish being put out in early January and can have a significant knock-on effect on New Year collections, leaving waste management teams playing catch-up.
The challenges above can also be compounded by the fact that many staff want to take time off over Christmas. Consequently, employees still on duty may be assigned to a new round – and streets could potentially be missed out as those workers navigate an unfamiliar route.
Finding the right solution for your post-Christmas clean-up operation
The easiest way for local authorities to stay in control of their responsibilities is to find an easy way to centrally manage waste collections. And digital technology provides the answer.
By onboarding an online waste management solution, key personnel can work more closely with your wider team to ensure that rubbish – in whatever volume – is collected and sorted quickly and efficiently.
The right software makes it simple to manage waste workflows by providing a complete overview of all collection requirements, which can be accessed in real-time to track crew progress. Route scheduling is also much easier, as crews can automatically be assigned rounds and service types – for complete clarity over what needs picking up, when and where.
Worksheets can be created ‘on the fly’ to assign ad hoc rounds, which is ideal during irregular waste collection times like Christmas. All this, and the administration and paperwork burden is still much smaller than a manual approach to waste management.
Are you ready to make your Christmas 2019 collections better than 2018? It’s never too early to start.
Whitespace Municipal Waste Management is a complete solution for your municipal waste collections. We’ve already helped 100+ local authorities meet their waste management targets; if you want to be next, book a free demonstration.