Tackling the challenges of garden waste collections

The only certainty is that there is always a need for change!

For local authorities (LAs), business agility – the ability to adapt to change – remains a really important aspect of how they manage their operations. Legislation, resident behaviour, and societal trends are typical of the factors that are continually shifting and driving the need for change.

Simpler Recycling’ is an example of a change driver handed down by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), with the objective of reforming and harmonising waste collections across England ready for April 2026.

Garden waste collection is one of the seven recyclable household waste streams that forms part of every authority’s program. However, from the perspective of collections, garden waste does present some challenges.

Challenges of garden waste collections

There are a number of factors that create some complexity within garden waste collection. Firstly, resident behaviours vary. Delivering the garden waste collection service involves increased interactions with residents, such as contract renewals, extra bins and discounts, evidence capture for benefit recipients, and factoring compliance with GDPR.

Secondly, there is a natural inconsistency in bins and their presentation. Garden waste volumes are seasonal and weather-dependent, leading to varying bin presentations. Out of growing seasons, rounds may be merged, impacting service frequency. Additionally, bins are susceptible to damage, making them the most frequently damaged containers for some councils.

Thirdly, the planning and administration of garden waste services pose challenges. Payment management and pricing need to be carefully considered. Inventory control is also vital, with IT systems assisting in inventory management and automating deliveries. Contract periods, usually annual, are likely to stress telephone agents, admin teams and IT systems when the entire estate shares the same renewal anniversary, such as the 1st of April.

Building on the foundation of digital transformation

With digital transformation progressing across many areas of council services, ultimately, to ensure that they are able to be agile, councils need to adopt methodologies and technology systems that provide flexibility.

To help address these issues, many councils have built out their digital transformation initiatives by implementing some powerful technologies.

  • CRM – integration to track and record interactions with residents, track and phase renewal anniversaries, and drive outbound messaging strategies.
  • Online contact – promoting online interactions in different digital channels, allowing councils to better manage and structure their workflow in responding to resident enquiries and requests.
  • Inventory management – Using IT systems for stock management and automating bin deliveries.

However, many lack front-end and in-cab systems that provide the capability to leverage these systems and maximise their benefits.

The role of Whitespace front-end systems and in-cab devices

Front-end system

This is the resident self-service ‘customer-facing’ component, typically embedded within the council website.

This allows residents to:

  • Subscribe, renew or amend subscriptions online
  • Pay for services online
  • Inform residents of collection start dates and frequency
  • Report damaged bins
  • Report missed bins

This automates complementary back-office tasks:

  • Assigns the subscription to the correct round on the correct day and frequency
  • Automatically tasks delivery of the bin before collection start date to new service users
  • Syncs inventory management systems with bin allocations and movements
  • Posts letters, permits and stickers to residents
  • Up-dates the digital round sheet with new collections

In-cab device

  • Real-time mobile data is pushed out to the in-cab device in each fleet vehicle
  • The crew will see the new subscription as a new collection on the digital round sheet
  • The system indicates payments, ensuring only bins of paid subscribers are collected
  • Provides notifications of customers’ bins and assisted collections
  • Allows crews to provide confirmation of successful collection
  • Provide comments, such as reporting on attachment of stickers, damage, and so on

The benefits of front-end and in-cab technology

  • Route Planning: Assists in determining the most efficient order for the collection of waste bins, reducing travel time, fuel consumption, and associated costs.
  • Dynamic scheduling: Ensures that collection crews are able to adjust their routes and timings as needed, improving responsiveness to changing demand.
  • Data-driven decision making: Sensors and in-cab devices in collection vehicles provide valuable data on collection points, waste volumes, and operational performance. This data enables councils to make better informed decisions, optimises resource allocation and improves overall service delivery.
  • Communication and coordination: In-cab communication systems facilitate seamless communication between drivers and central control. This improves coordination, allowing for quick responses to changes or issues during the collection process.
  • Customer experience: Drivers benefit from using mobile devices to confirm collections, provide updates, or receive feedback. This enhances resident satisfaction and engagement.
  • Reduced environmental impact: Efficient routes and optimised schedules contribute to a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions, aligning with environmental sustainability goals.
  • Cost savings: Improved operational efficiency through fuel cost reduction, in-cab technology helps councils reduce their costs.

Prepare for Simpler Recycling with Whitespace

Whatever the needs of your council to get ready for the Simpler Recycling reform of local authority environmental services across England by the end of March 2026, Whitespace is here to help. We currently partner with over 100 local authorities to help deliver efficient high quality environmental services.

To find out more about Whitespace Municipal Waste Management solutions, please get in touch by calling us on +44 (0)1483 231 650 or emailing us at info@whitespacews.com



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